NORMAN, Okla. -- The No. 16 Sooners (21-9) will look to build some momentum with UT-Arlington (14-16) on Tuesday, April 2 before they open the Big 12 road portion of the schedule this weekend at Texas A&M.
First pitch at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Tuesday is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will mark the end of OU’s current eight-game home stand. Tuesday night is also $.50 hot dog and coke night at the ballpark.
OU leads the all-time series 15-8. Before the Sooners’ 11-6 win last year in Norman, the Mavericks had won six straight games over the Sooners. The two have played each other every year since 1997 and met three weeks ago in Arlington at Clay Gould Ballpark. OU came out on top in that contest, winning 8-0 behind Ryan Rohlinger's three RBI.
Tuesday’s contest will also be broadcast live on KOKC 1520 AM with Chuck Kelly calling the play-by-play and DeWayne Vaughn providing color analysis. Pregame coverage for all Sooner baseball games, begins 15 minutes prior to first pitch. In addition, live stats for all games this season can be viewed on Soonersports.com and the O-Zone (OU’s premium site) will provide a live webcast.
UPDATING THE SOONERS
The Sooners ended a three-game losing skid on Sunday in the series finale against No. 11 Texas at L. Dale Mitchell Park. The OU offense erupted for 12 runs off 12 hits on Sunday to salvage the series against Texas and help P.J. Sandoval improve to 4-1 in 2006.
In game two of the series, the Sooners fell behind early but rallied to erase a 4-0 deficit with one run in the fifth and three more in the sixth inning. However, the Longhorns used a five-run seventh inning to cruise to their sixth straight victory over OU. The defeat was the first for OU’s Steven Guerra (8-1), who still leads the Big 12 in wins.
On Friday against Texas, Oklahoma lost its first game of the season when outhitting the opposition in a 2-0 defeat. In a pitching duel between OU’s Daniel McCutchen (4-4) and Texas’ Kyle McCulloch, the Sooner offense outhit Texas 5-3 but stranded seven baserunners.
Earlier in the week, OU lost a mid-week contest to visiting Dallas Baptist (9-3). The Patriots scored a combined seven runs in the second and third innings and held OU scoreless until the fourth frame to record just its second win in the all-time series (2004).
TICKETS AND PROMOTIONS
Seats to this weekend’s games are available for $10 (reserved), $7 (general admission), $5 (youth) and $3 for groups of ten or more at the OU Athletics Ticket Office (800-456-4668) and at SoonerSports.com. The gates will open an hour and a half before game time and it is $.50 hot dog and coke night at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
PLAYER TO WATCH: AARON REZA
The Sooners’ utility infielder is riding a four-game hitting streak. In the last four contests, Reza has connected for six base hits (.375) and three RBI. His current .313 batting average ranks fifth on the team and his 21 RBI is the fourth highest total on the squad.
The Mavs enter Tuesday’s contest at 14-16 and a 7-2 mark since facing OU last on March 14 at Clay Gould Park. In addition, UTA is off to its best start in the Southland Conference at 10-0 in school history.
Since suffering an 8-0 defeat at the hands of the Sooners, UTA has swept Nichols State and Stephen F. Austin in three-game series and defeated Louisiana Monroe. The Mavs only two losses in the last nine games came against Oral Roberts (13-8) and Oklahoma State (8-3). UTA has played a challenging schedule in 2006, playing six games against ranked teams (3 - Arkansas, 2 - Baylor, Hawaii). The Mavs were victorious in one of those games, a 15-9 victory over then-No. 24 Hawaii. In addition, UTA has played Kansas State (L, 13-3), Texas A&M (L, 14-3) and Texas Tech (L, 15-7).
-Offensively, junior Adam Moore leads UTA in every major offensive category except batting average (.345), where he ranks second. Moore is tops on the squad in home runs (5), RBI (25), on-base percentage (.460) and slugging percentage (.575).
-Freshman Kyle Gainley is expected to get the start for UTA on the mound. The left-hander is 0-3 this year in eight appearances (four starts). He has allowed 23 runs (18 earned) over 24 1/3 innings (6.66 ERA) this season and has 15 strikeouts opposite 14 walks.
-UTA is coached by Jeff Curtis, who is in his fifth season at the Mavs’ helm and is 138-127 (.521) in that span. He led the Mavs to a 26-32 record last year and a fifth-place finish in the Southland Conference. Returning from last year’s team are five letterwinners and two position starters.
-OU leads the all-time series 15-8 and has won the last two meetings.
OU will play its first Big 12 series on the road against Texas A&M this weekend. The series begins on Friday, April 7 at 7 p.m. and continues on Saturday at 7 p.m. The three-game set will conclude on Sunday at 1 p.m. All three games of the series can be heard live on KOKC 1520 AM.
After being ranked in each of the four major polls on March 13, 2006 for the first time since April 19, 2004, the Oklahoma baseball team remained in the all four rankings for the fourth consecutive week,losing ground in each poll. For the sixth consecutive week, OU was ranked in the top 30 by both Collegiate Baseball magazine and the National Collegiate Baseball Writer’s (NCBWA) polls. OU is No. 28 in Collegiate Baseball and No. 17 in the NCBWA poll. In the USA Today/ESPN poll, OU is ranked No. 16 and Baseball America has the Sooners at No. 28.
OU has connected for 90 RBI with two outs on the board in 2006. That accounts for 43 percent of the team’s total of 209 RBI. The team’s top three RBI individuals, Kevin Smith, Aaron Reza and Ryan Rohlinger, each have double-digit RBI with two outs. Smith has 15, while Rohlinger has 13 and Reza 10.
The OU pitching staff is averaging just under three walks per game (3.06-fifth best average in the Big 12) and has walked two or fewer batters on 12 occasions this year, including four games without registering a single walk (Texas State, WIU-GM2, Memphis and Indiana State.) In one stretch, the staff went 22 2/3 innings without walking a batter, starting with the seventh inning of the Long Beach State game, continuing through the Memphis and Indiana State games, and ending in the third inning against Notre Dame. Steven Guerra has been the most successful starter in the category, lasting five outings without a walk.
The Sooners have played in 10 one-run games this season and have suffered losses in three of those contests. Two of those defeats have come in the last nine games (Arizona State-GM1 and Baylor-GM1). The only other one-run defeat came in the Service Academies Classic against Memphis. The Sooners average 5.2 runs/game in one-run contests, 2.3 below their season average. In 2005, OU played in 12 one-run games and recorded a 9-3 mark.
WHEN A STARTER EXITS
OU is 17-2 this season when the starting pitcher exits the game with the lead. The two defeats both occurred with Daniel McCutchen on the mound (March 17 vs. ASU and March 24 vs. Baylor). In comparison, when OU is trailing and the starter leaves the game, it is 3-4 with wins over Texas State, Notre Dame and Baylor (March 26) and losses to Lamar (Feb. 5), Rice, Wichita State and Dallas Baptist. There has only been one game this season that a starter left and the score was tied. On April 1 versus Texas, Steven Guerra left after six innings with the score tied at four and suffered his first loss of 2006. Additionally, OU is 1-2 this year when a starter throws a complete game. Daniel McCutchen threw in all three of those games and lost to Memphis and Texas and defeated UC Riverside.
SHUTTING OUT THE OPPOSITION
OU is tied with Missouri, Kansas State and Texas A&M in the Big 12 with four shutouts this season. The Sooners have blanked Western Illinois (14-0), UC Riverside (1-0), Centenary (12-0) and UT-Arlington (8-0) in 2006. The Sooners only recorded two shutouts all of last season and the last time an OU squad posted four shutouts in a season was during the 1994 campaign, which saw OU win its second National Championship. The last time a Sooner team posted five shutouts was in 1992 and the record for most shutouts in a season is 18 (1976 and 1973).
OU AGAINST RANKED COMPETITION
The Sooners have faced seven teams this season ranked in one of the four major polls in collegiate baseball (USA Today/Sports Weekly, Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball and NCBWA). OU is 6-6 in those contests with wins over Texas (11, 10, 10, 13), Baylor-twice (21, 22, 23, 24) Arizona State (13, 16, 11, 13) Long Beach State (20, 19, 15, 11) and Notre Dame (NR, NR, 22, 27). OU has lost Texas-twice, Arizona State, Rice (4, 5,4, 2) and Wichita State (NR, NR, 28, 24). The Sooners will also face four more teams ranked in this week’s polls (Rice, Texas Tech, Wichita State and Nebraska) later on this season, combining for eight of their final 25 regular season games. (All rankings listed were taken at the time of competition).