NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma (28-22, 11-13) will play a doubleheader at home on Tuesday versus Northern Colorado. The two have only met one other time in the schools' history, a 10-1 Sooner victory at the 1974 College World Series.
OU enters the last week of the season having won its first back-to-back conference series this season. OU defeated Kansas State and Oklahoma State in the last two weeks and as a result, clinched a spot in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Tournament. The conference postseason begins Wednesday, May 25 and runs through Sunday, May 29 at the Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.
The second game of the doubleheader between OU and Northern Colorado will be broadcast live on KOKC (1520 AM) with Chuck Kelly calling the play-by-play. The 2:30 p.m. game will be available on the internet through Yahoo. The pre-game show will start 15 minutes prior to the scheduled first pitch. All times and availability are subject to change. Live stats will also be available through SoonerSports.com.
NORTHERN COLORADO NOTES
Overall Record: 19-32 | Rankings: NR
The Bears enter Tuesday’s contest on the back end of a seven-game, nine-day road trip. UNC is 1-5 on its current road stint and is 9-24 away from home this season. The Bears have played their share of games against Big 12 competition this season, recording one victory (vs. Kansas in Feb.) in nine chances. UNC lost the other two games against the Jayhawks and was swept by Nebraska in the middle of March and Kansas State last weekend.
The Bears’ offense has struggled as of late, scoring just five runs in its last four games. Before its recent four-game losing streak, UNC defeated Wichita State, in Kansas, by an 8-5 score. Sophomore third baseman Brennan Garr leads all sluggers with a .371 batting average and a .553 slugging percentage. Sophomore catcher John Ray’s 10 homers is a team best (34 RBI) and senior first baseman Phil Delich is tops in RBI with 37.
Craig Ayers (RHP) will make his team-leading 10th start on Tuesday in game one. Ayers is 1-7 this season with a 9.76 ERA. He has struck out 20 batters and walked 29 in 39.2 innings of action. All but nine of his 52 runs have been earned this season.
In game two, UNC will throw Cary Lott who will be making his first start of the season and just the second of his career. Lott is 0-0 this season in seven relief appearances in which he has pitched 9.1 innings. In that span, the right-hander has a 6.75 ERA and has struck out nine and walked nine.
LAST TIME OUT - SOONERS CLAIM BEDLAM SERIES TITLE
The Sooners used extra innings during a 5-4 win in game three to take two out of three games against Oklahoma State in the Bedlam Series on Sunday. Russell Raley’s game winning RBI in the 11th inning plated Ryan Rohlinger and secured the series win at the Bricktown Ballpark. By winning the series against OSU, the Sooners, tied for fifth place with OSU, clinched a spot in the 2005 Phillips 66 Big 12 Tournament held in Oklahoma City this season. OU is one of five teams to have secured a place in the conference postseason (Baylor, Nebraska, Texas and Missouri). OU dropped game one to the Cowboys, 3-1, on Saturday after Friday’s series opener was suspended due to severe weather in Tulsa at Drillers Stadium. The Sooners then came back hours later to rebound and even the series with a 4-3 win in game two at the "Brick."
MORE ON THE SERIES WIN OVER OKLAHOMA STATE
Six of the last 10 contests between the Sooners and Cowboys have been decided by two runs or less.
The series win gave OU its first back-to-back wins in a three-game set during conference play this season. It was also OU’s second Big 12 series win away from home.
The two teams each scored 10 runs in the three games but OU outhit the Cowboys 28-23. The Sooners also provided the only two home runs of the series (Jackson Williams and Kevin Smith). Williams’ homer in game one snapped an 0-for-26 stint for the Sooner catcher.
OU only used five pitchers throughout the series. Each of the three starters (McCutchen, Patterson and Burns) lasted at least five innings and besides Will Savage, who pitched 8.1 effective innings of relief, John Brownell was the only other Sooner who came out of the bullpen versus Oklahoma State.
Sooner reliever Will Savage has become OU’s go-to guy in the bullpen. The junior leads the team with 83.1 innings pitched and 26 appearances. Savage has appeared in OU’s last eight games. Savage has started just five games this season with his last start coming on April 12 vs. TCU. In the 12 relief appearances since the TCU game, Savage has went on to record a 5-0 mark and a save, to accompany his 1.14 ERA in 32 innings of work. In addition, he has allowed nine runs (four earned) on 29 hits and three walks, while striking out 13 and holding batters to a .242 batting average.
Junior Russell Raley has been a permanent fixture in the Sooners lineup for the last three seasons. On Tuesday, the second baseman will be making his 110th and 111th consecutive start for the Sooners. Raley started 60 games a season ago (missing just two of the first three games) and has started every game this season. He finished 2003 with 16 straight starts and he has come off the bench in just 11 contests in his OU career. Of the 109 consecutive starts, only four did not occur at second base (2004-three starts at third and 2005-one start as DH).
EXTRA INNING SUCCESS
After starting the season 0-3 in games played in extra frames (Northwestern State, Texas A&M and Texas), the Sooners have battled back with four consecutive victories. Three of those games have come in the Sooners’ last six outings. OU’s last extra-inning triumph came against OSU on Sunday in an 11-inning affair that saw OU come out on top, 5-4. Before that, OU posted back-to-back, extra-inning victories two weekends ago against Kansas State (11 and 10 innings). The other victory in extra frames this season took place in a 2-1 pitchers’ duel against Missouri in the series opener (10 innings)
CAUFIELD’S SPEED = SOONERS’ SUCCESS
Junior Chuckie Caufield leads the 2005 Sooners, after 47 games, with eight stolen bases (tied with Kaiser) and is tied for second on the club with 39 runs scored. In games where the center fielder swipes a base, OU is 7-0 and when the Ada, Okla., native scores a run, OU is 17-10 (.630). Even in the three games that Caufield has been caught stealing, the Sooners remain perfect with two more victories.
THORNTON LEADS SOONERS IN RBI
Eric Thornton collected five RBI against Kansas State leads all Sooners with 41 this season (he had 39 last season). Thornton has hit safely in nine of the last 11 games and has driven in seven runs in the last seven contests. Also in that span, he has posted a .356 batting average, two homers, three doubles and a .645 slugging percentage.
The Sooners improved to 19-5 at home after recording a 5-4 win over Wichita State on May 3. In its 24 games played at L. Dale Mitchell Park, OU is hitting .334 as a team and has significantly outscored the opposition, 219-132. Nineteen of the Sooners’ 33 homers this season have been hit in their home park. Twenty-seven of Kevin Smith’s 39 RBI have come at home. The junior is hitting .329 with a .488 slugging percentage in the 24 games. Left-handed pitcher Garrett Patterson has also enjoyed playing in front of the home crowd. The junior is 3-1 with two saves in three starts and three relief appearances at L. Dale Mitchell Park. The lefty has 37 strikeouts in 31.0 innings pitched and a 2.32 ERA in games played in Norman.
RODRIGUEZ BACK ON THE RISE
Junior Freddy Rodriguez entered the Northwestern State series as the Sooners’ leader in batting average (.409), almost two months ago and had his nine game hitting streak (17 hits and 12 RBI) come to an end in the series finale. For the next 15 games the shortstop struggled, collecting just five hits in that time and on April 10 after a game with Kansas, he was batting just .248. Since that game, Rodriguez has come back strong. In the last 19 games, he has collected the most hits (28) by any Sooner in that span. The Westminister, Calif., native is currently batting .302 (second best on the team) and is riding an eight-game hitting streak (.382, 14-for-36). He has also collected eight multi-hit games in the last 16 contests, after having only five after the first 31 games.