NORMAN, Okla. -- The Oklahoma Sooners (16-9) will take a three-game winning streak into the weekend at No. 15/17 Baylor. OU is fresh off a 7-5 defeat over Dallas Baptist on Tuesday. Baylor also won a non-conference contest on Tuesday following a 10-3 victory over Texas Southern.
OU started conference play last weekend in successful fashion by defeating then-No. 14 Texas A&M in two of the three games. The series win improved the Sooners mark to 5-1 when playing in a series (two or more games) this season.
The three-game series between OU and Baylor will be broadcast live on KOKC (1520 AM) with Chuck Kelly calling the play-by-play. 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.
STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP
Friday, April 1
OU - S. Guerra, RHP (3-1, 3.32 ERA)
BU - T. Taylor, LHP (2-3, 3.59 ERA)
Saturday, April 2
OU - B. Burns, RHP (1-0, 3.55 ERA)
BU - M. McCormick, RHP (3-1, 3.21 ERA)
Sunday, April 3
OU - W. Savage, RHP (3-2, 3.35 ERA)
BU - C. VanAllen, LHP (4-2, 4.12 ERA)
-Overall Record: 17-10, Big 12: 4-2
-Rankings: No. 15 (Baseball America), No. 17 (Sports Weekly/ESPN)
Baylor won an impressive string of seven-straight victories over a trio of ranked opponents from March 11-March 20. In that span, the Bears topped Vanderbilt (No. 8) in three games, TCU (No. 24) in a single game and swept No. 1 Texas in a three-game series. Since then, Baylor has struggled going 2-3 over the next five games, including a 0-12 loss to Texas State. In addition, the Bears lost a series with Oklahoma State (1-2) but still find themselves tied for second place in the Big 12 with the Cowboys.
The Baylor offense is led by Josh Ford. The senior is leading the charge with a .312 average and 18 RBI. He is one of four Bears to hit three or more home runs this season (Kyle Reynolds leads the team with five ) and he has hit safely in the last three games. The Bears will throw Trey Taylor in the series opener, a lefty that is 2-3 this season with a 3.59 ERA. Mark McCormick will start Saturday’s contest and the right-hander is 3-1 in seven starts this season while leading the squad with 42 strikeouts. He holds a 3.21 ERA and pitched a masterful game against No. 1 Texas in which he allowed one run on four hits in 7.2 innings of work. In the series finale, Baylor will throw another left-hander, Cory VanAllen. In seven starts, VanAllen is 4-2 with a 4.12 ERA and is another Bear that had success against the Longhorns. VanAllen’s last win came against the nation’s top ranked team (Texas). He threw 6.1 innings of three-hit ball and allowed two runs (one earned).
LAST MEETING WITH BAYLOR
In the 2004 Phillips 66 Big 12 Tournament, sixth-seeded Baylor scored 13 runs over the final three innings to down No. 2 seed Oklahoma, 14-4, in a seven inning run-rule affair on May 28 at Ameriquest Field. It marked OU’s second loss of the tournament and it eliminate the 17th-ranked Sooners’ from the tourney. In the regular season, OU swept Baylor in the series in Norman. All three games were decided by one run (5-4, 12-11, 5-4).
SOONERS CAREER NUMBERS VERSUS BAYLOR
Below is a look at some of the Sooners’ career numbers over the past three years against the Bears in 10 meetings (5 wins, 5 losses). Matt Bose is the only Sooner to play in all ten meetings.
DALLAS BAPTIST POST-GAME NOTES
Kevin Smith made his first start in six games at third base. The last time Smith started at the hot corner was on 3/18 versus Arizona State. In the last six games, Smith has started four games, all as OU’s designated hitter.
Tuesday’s win was the eighth game this season that OU never trailed (or was tied) at any point in the game.
P.J. Sandoval turned in another fine relief performance following his first save of the year. In his last two outings, Sandoval has allowed just two hits and zero runs in 5.1 innings of work. He also has not surrendered a walk and struck out five.
Seniors Eric Thornton, Matt Bose and Jeff Scuderi were named the team’s captains before the game. The trio combined for 178 appearances last season (163 starts) and were accountable for a third of the team’s RBI (101/329) and over a quarter of the runs scored (104/387).
OU has received four solid performances from its starting pitching in the last four games. In the 29 innings pitched by Will Savage (two starts), Brad Burns and Steven Guerra, the hurlers have held a steady 2.17 ERA with 17 strikeouts and just four walks. Despite their efforts, only Savage and Guerra picked up the “W.” Savage’s start versus Texas A&M in the series opener was spoiled by the Aggies in the ninth inning and John Brownell picked up the win after relieving Burns in game two against the A&M.
GUERRA NAMED BIG 12 CO-PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Junior Steven Guerra was named the Big 12 Co-Pitcher of the Week on Tuesday following the Paso Robeles, Calif., native’s third win of the season. Guerra pitched a complete game three-hitter with four strikeouts in the Sooners’ 2-0 shutout of then-No. 14 Texas A&M, a day after celebrating his 21st birthday (March 24).
The hurler held the Aggies to a .109 average for the game (3 for 29) as the Sooners went on to take the first game of a doubleheader sweep over Texas A&M, and the series advantage (2-1) last Friday at L. Dale Mitchell Park in Norman, Okla.
OU’s Guerra shared the honor with senior Scott Richmond (OSU) after he led the Cowboys to a series win over nationally-ranked Baylor.
Friday’s shutout of Texas A&M was the longest outing and only complete game for OU’s staff this season. Guerra threw 125 pitches and retired 10 straight Aggies at one point in the game and 20 of the last 22 batters he faced. The Aggies managed to move just three runners in scoring position on the right-hander.
RALEY IS STREAKING
Junior Russell Raley hit safely in 15 of the Sooners’ first 16 games this season before stumbling in consecutive games (0-for-7) against Northwestern State and Arizona State. Since then he has collected 12 hits (four multi-hit games) and five RBI in the last seven games. Now on a seven-game hitting streak (currently a team best) Raley owns the longest streak by an Sooner this season (13 games). Earlier this season, his 13-game hitting streak was snapped after reaching base four times (2 walks, 2 errors) in the 14th game (vs. UAPB). The Uvalde, Texas native came one game shy of tying his career-best streak set a season ago. Raley’s career high of 14 consecutive games with a hit was set last season in between April 13 and May 7.
ROHLINGER REBOUNDS NICELY
After Ryan Rohlinger’s career-high hitting streak of 12 games came to an end against Arizona State with an 0-for-5 performance in Tempe on March 20, the junior has came back strong. Now the Sooners’ starting third baseman, Rohlinger has hit safely in four of the last five games (five hits, three RBI) since the finale against ASU. Rohlinger still leads the team in batting average (.366), hits (37) and is second on the team with 23 RBI. The West Bend, Wisc., native’s previous best hitting streak was established last year on two occasions, when he reached a string of eight consecutive games.
The Sooners won their first road game of the season against TCU on March 22 to bump their record on the road to 1-4. OU ran into trouble two weekends ago when it was swept in three games against Arizona State in Tempe. So far this season, OU is 3-8 in games played away from the friendly confines of L. Dale Mitchell Park. Five of those contests have been played at neutral sites with OU participating in two tournaments this season (Coca-Cola Classic and the KIA Bash). OU is 1-5 in “true” road games, dropping three contests to ASU and one at then-No. 2 Cal State Fullerton, and is batting just .226 with 11 RBI in those contests.
MORE ON THE SERIES WIN OVER TEXAS A&M
The Sooners defeated the Aggies in a series for just the third time (first at home) in nine attempts. Since the creation of the Big 12 in 1997, OU is 16-17 (postseason included, 3-3) overall against Texas A&M and 3-6 in series meetings. In 2000, OU swept the Aggies in three games and defeated them 2-1 in last year’s series,both three-game sets took place in College Station, Texas.
OU improved to 6-3 for the opening series of Big 12 play in a year. Since 1997, OU has only lost the opening series of the Big 12 season on three occasions (1998 at A&M, 1-2; 2003 at Baylor, 0-3; 2004 vs. Texas,1-2).
Russell Raley played a key role in the series as he hit. 500 in the three games, collected two RBI and scored three runs. He was also a perfect 3-for-3 with runners in scoring position.
TOP 25 OPPOSITION
The Sooners face seven different schools throughout the season (combined 18 games) ranked in either the Baseball America or Sports Weekly/ESPN top 25 polls this week (two in the top 3). More than half of those contests occur once Big 12 competition begins as Texas (1/1), Texas A&M (16/19), Baylor (15/17), Nebraska (20/16), Texas Tech (25-ESPN) are all currently ranked in the top 25. Wichita State (22-ESPN) is the only non-conference opponent left on OU’s schedule. The Sooners have already played four ranked opponents after defeating No. 14/15 Texas A&M in two games, No. 22 TCU and then dropping games to No. 2/2 Cal State Fullerton and then-No. 12 Arizona State, 7-0 and 7-5 respectively.