OU Faces Texas Tech In Season Finale

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
MAY 19, 2005

NORMAN, Okla. -- The Oklahoma Sooners (30-22 overall, 11-13 Big 12) will put their four-game winning streak on the line this weekend with the final series of the regular season against the Texas Tech Red Raiders (33-20, 9-13).    Friday’s action gets underway at 7 p.m. and will be followed by 1 p.m. games on Saturday and Sunday.  The series finale will also be senior day for OU’s three captains;  Matt Bose, Jeff Scuderi and Eric Thornton.

The three-game series with Texas Tech will be available on the internet through Yahoo with Chuck Kelly calling the play-by-play.  The pre-game show will start 15 minutes prior to the scheduled first pitch.  The final series of the year will also be televised by ESPNU (DirecTV Ch. 609).    Dave Barnett will call the play-by-play and Buck Martinez will provide the color analysis on Friday and Saturday and Mark Neely will replace Barnett on Sunday.  It is also a free preview weekend for DirecTV subscribers.  All times and availability are subject to change.  Live stats will also be available through SoonerSports.com.

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Overall Record: 33-20, Big 12: 9-13   |  Rankings: NR
Texas Tech enters the weekend series having won its last three games and it is averaging 11 runs per contest in that span.  The Red Raiders have played eight of their last nine games at home.  Most recently, Tech defeated New Mexico State, 12-6, on the road on Tuesday, May 17.  The last time the Red Raiders were involved in a Big 12 series on the road was against Baylor (4/29-5-01), a series in which they managed to defeat the Bears, 3-2, in the middle game.

Tech boasts the league’s third highest overall batting average at .306 and has a roster filled with seven different batters with 30 or more RBI.  The Red Raiders are led by Joseph Callender (.387, 48 RBI) and Cameron Blair (.377, 17 HR, 58 RBI).   After 21 conference games, Blair leads the Big 12 with 10 homers and 24 RBI and his .413 batting average ranks second.

Billy Carnline (RHP) will make his 12th start on Friday.  Carnline leads the club in wins with a 7-3 record and after 65.2 innings pitched, he has allowed 33 earned runs (4.52 ERA) on 76 hits and 29 walks, while striking out a team-leading 52 batters.  Tech will throw another right-hander on Saturday as Tanner McElroy (2-2, 2.13 ERA) makes his fourth start of the year.  In his lone Big 12 start against Nebraska, McElroy was stellar in Tech’s 7-6 victory. He lasted seven innings in which he allowed two runs (zero earned) on five hits and six walks.  Dustin Richardson will take the mound in the series finale.  Richardson is 1-1 with a 5.52 ERA in 11 appearances (six starts) this season.  In 29.1 innings, he has walked 26 and struck out 15. 

Since the two started meeting in 1976, the Red Raiders hold a 21-18-1 advantage.  In the 16 meetings in Norman, OU owns a 9-6-1 series edge.  Since the start of baseball in the Big 12 (1997), the Red Raiders have an 18-12-1 record against the Sooners.

The No. 13 Sooners scored 10 runs on 11 hits in a series opening win at Dan Law field.  Eric Thornton (3-for-4, 3 RBI, 2 runs) and Russell Raley (2-for-5, RBI, 2 runs) led OU’s offensive charge. 

In game two, the Red Raiders turned the tables on Oklahoma and defeated the Sooners, 14-4, on Saturday afternoon.  Ryan Rohlinger finished the game with 3-for-5 performance which included a solo homer in the second frame. 

The rubber match finally provided a close contest but, unfortunately for the Sooners, Texas Tech came out on top, 6-5, in 10 innings.  Tech’s Cody Fuller hit a walk-off single to left field in the bottom of the 10th inning and plated the winning run to clinch the series win.   OU had battled back after being down by three runs, but the Red Raiders scored the final two runs of the contest to secure the victory. 

The two met again in the Big 12 Tournament and a strong pitching effort from Mark Roberts and a 2-for-4 day, including a RBI, from Eric Thornton helped OU avenge the series loss with a 3-1 victory in the loser’s bracket. 
The Sooners extended their winning streak to four games with a doubleheader sweep of Northern Colorado (19-34) on Tuesday at L. Dale Mitchell Park.  OU took game one by cruising to a 16-5 win and Ryan Rohlinger hit two home runs to lead the Sooners to a victory, 4-2, in the second game.

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.”

OU is currently riding its second longest winning streak of the season at four games.  The Sooners won eight straight games earlier in the season and that streak started with South Alabama on Feb. 13 at the 2005 Coca-Cola Classic.  OU then went on to sweep Eastern Illinois and Western Illinois in separate three-game series and finished off the streak with UCLA at the Kia Bash on March 4.  During the current streak, OU is hitting .324 with five home runs and 24 RBI. 

Fifteen of the Sooners’ 37 home runs this season have come in the last eight games.  OU has hit a round tripper in all but one of those contests (game two vs. OSU).  Ryan Rohlinger has hit five in that span.

Freshman catcher Jackson Williams has played in 48 games this season, starting 44 of them.  Despite his current .260 average, the Broken Arrow, Okla., native is hitting the ball well as of late.  Williams is hitting .333 in the last five games (6-for-18) and has driven in five runs on two singles, two doubles and two homers. He broke out of his 0-for-26 slump in a big way against Oklahoma State with a solo homer in the eighth inning.  Before that game, his average was at a season-low .248.  Williams has consistently been around the .300 mark for most of the season and was hitting at a .301 clip 16 games ago.

Sooner reliever Will Savage has become OU’s go-to guy in the bullpen. The junior leads the team with 84.2 innings pitched and 27 appearances. Savage has appeared in nine of OU’s last ten games. Savage has started just five games this season with his last start coming on April 12 vs. TCU. In the 13 relief appearances since the TCU game, Savage has went on to record a 5-0 mark and two saves, to accompany his 1.08 ERA in 36.2 innings of work. In addition, he has allowed nine runs (four earned) on 31 hits and three walks, while striking out 16 and holding batters to a .246 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 112th 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 111 consecutive starts, only four did not occur at second base (2004-three starts at third and 2005-one start as DH).

Beginning with a season-high four RBI against Texas Christian on April 12, senior Eric Thornton is currently averaging 1.09 RBI a game over the last 21 games.  The slugger drove in 39 a season ago and currently has 23 RBI.  Thornton’s 43 RBI this season ranks second on the team and when looking at Big 12 games, the McCloud, Okla., native is tied for the team lead with Russell Raley at 13.

Since blowing a save against Nevada on March 6, Daniel McCutchen has returned to the Sooners’ starting lineup and has been solid in five Big 12 outings.  Now the Sooners’ Friday starter, McCutchen made his second start of the season, first since Feb. 12, against No. 1 Texas (4/15).  Despite a no-decision and an OU loss, McCutchen was stellar in nine innings of five-hit ball.  He also posted a season-high ten strikeouts in the game.  Against No. 5 Nebraska on April 28, the hurler recorded his first win since defeating Northwestern State on March 13.  In his five Big 12 starts, McCutchen has a 1-2 record and has struck out 39 batters in 36.2 innings pitched.  In addition, he has allowed 12 runs (eight earned) on 30 hits and nine walks.  His ERA in that span is 1.96 and opponents are hitting just .229 off him.  In his last six outings, the Norman native has 47 strikeouts, opposite 11 walks, in 42 2/3 innings.

The Sooners improved to 21-5 at home after recording a 4-2 win over Northern Colorado on May 17.  In its 26 games played at L. Dale Mitchell Park, OU is hitting .338 as a team and has significantly outscored the opposition, 239-139.  Twenty-two of the Sooners’ 37 homers this season have been hit in their home park.  Ryan Rohlinger is hitting .420 at home and has five homers and 32 RBI.  Thirty of Kevin Smith’s 37 RBI have come at home.  The junior is hitting .337 with a .523 slugging percentage in the 26 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 four 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.

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.  His second nine-game hitting streak of the season ended in OU’ last game vs. Northern Colorado.  In the last 21 games, he has collected the most hits (29) by any Sooner in that span.  The Westminister, Calif., native is currently batting .294 (fifth best on the team)

Junior (2B) Russell Raley has put the bat on the ball in critical situations for OU this season. He’s hitting .387 with runners in scoring position, .397 with two out (16 two-out RBI) and .800 (4-for-5) with the bases loaded. He’s come up 19 times with a runner at third and less than two out, and he’s driven in that runner 15 times. Earlier in the season, Raley had a 13-game hitting streak come to a halt against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, despite the fact that the Uvalde, Texas native reached base four times in the game (two errors and two walks).  Raley was one game shy of tying his career high of 14 that he set a year ago in between April 13 and May 7. 

Junior Chuckie Caufield leads the 2005 Sooners, after 52 games, with eight stolen bases (tied with Kaiser) and is tied for third 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.

Eric Thornton, Matt Bose and Eric Thornton, OU’s 2005 captains, had a successful weekend against Kansas State.  The three seniors combined for 10 hits, nine RBI and four runs scored.  Although Thornton is no stranger to the Sooners’ starting lineup (44 starts), it was just the 16th start for Matt Bose and sixth start for Scuderi this season.  In two games vs. KSU, Bose went 3-for-6 with a RBI and two runs, while Scuderi was 2-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored. Thornton, Bose and Scuderi, the team’s only seniors, were named the team’s captains before the Dallas Baptist game on March 29.  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).

Left-hander Garrett Patterson adjusted to his new role as a reliever in the Sooners’ bullpen by recording two saves (Kansas and Wichita State) and a win (Missouri) in his seven relief appearances since leaving the starting rotation on March 18 against Arizona State.  Patterson left that game with a lower-abdominal strain, but has since returned and pitched effectively in relief.  In 14 innings out of the bullpen, Patterson struck out 22 and allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits and 13 walks.  His best relief appearance may have come against Missouri (4/23), in which he threw 4.2 innings of one-hit ball against the Tigers, while striking out eight.  The McAlester, Okla., native has started two games since and recorded a win in his last start against Oklahoma State.  He struck out six batters in 5.1 innings while allowing three runs on four hits.  In his other start against Nebraska, Patterson struck out four but suffered a loss after giving up five runs (two earned) on six hits and one walk.

Junior Ryan Rohlinger continues to lead the Sooners offensive charge this season as he is tops on the team in batting average (.358), hits (72), home runs (9) and RBI (45).  Rohlinger hit .282 last year with six homers and 32 RBI.  The West Bend, Wisc., native recently had his seven-game hitting streak snapped against Nebraska, but he has hit safely in 20 of the last 25 games with a .366 batting average in that span.  He has also collected 10 multi-hit games in the last 25 contests to go along with seven home runs, 20 RBI and a .677 slugging percentage.

After 52 games last season, the 2004 Sooners were 34-18 overall (22-9 home / 7-6 away) and 17-7 in Big 12 play.  That same OU team was hitting .292 (524 hits) with 40 homers, 295 RBI and 346 runs scored.  On the mound, the Sooners’ pitching staff held a 3.89 ERA. 

In 2005, OU is 30-22 after 52 games (21-5 home / 5-13 away) and 11-13 in conference action.  They are hitting .292 (538 hits) with 37 home runs, 299 RBI and 350 runs scored.  In addition, OU hurler’s have a combined ERA of 4.53.

Freshman Kody Kaiser started off the season on a nine-game hitting streak, ending on March 4 against UCLA, but he continues to hit the ball well in his first season at OU.  The freshman has started all 52 of the Sooners’ games this season and has hit safely in all but 15 of those games.  He is third on the team with 64 hits and fourth with a batting average of .296.   The Edmond, Okla., has come within one hit of completing the cycle on two occasions this season and has collected 14 multiple-hit games.  In just his fifth collegiate game (vs. Eastern Illinois), Kaiser led off the game with a triple and added a double and a home run in his next two at-bats before grounding out to second base in his last chance at the cycle. On Feb. 28 against Western Illinois, Kaiser started with a double, triple and a single but could not come up with a homer in his final at bat.

He has now served as the team’s leadoff hitter in 13 games (16-for-56), batted second in three games (4-for-15), batted out of the three-hole in 23 contests (26-for-94), batted fourth in seven games (10-for-29), batted fifth in five games (5-for-18) and hit in the sixth spot (3-for-4) in his remaining game.

The Sooners have suffered over half of their losses (12/22) this season to teams ranked in either the Baseball America of Sports Weekly/ESPN polls, at the time of competition.  On the reverse side, OU has just six wins against ranked teams (Baylor, Missouri, Nebraska, TCU and Texas A&M-2).




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