NORMAN, Okla. -- The No. 14 (USA Today/ESPN) Oklahoma Sooners (20-6) will take on Dallas Baptist (18-10) on Tuesday, March 28 at L. Dale Mitchell Park. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. and it is also $.50 hot dog and coke night at the ballpark while supplies last.
OU’s No. 14 ranking is the highest for the program since Baseball America tabbed the Sooners the No. 13 team in the nation on April 19, 2004. This week’s ranking is the highest in the USA Today/ESPN poll since the 1998 Sooners were ranked No. 10 in the April 13 poll.
Seats to Tuesday’s game 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.
Tuesday’s game against Dallas Baptist will be broadcast live via the Internet on Yahoo 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.
UPDATING THE SOONERS
The Sooners opened the Big 12 portion of the 2006 schedule on Friday with No. 22 Baylor and after dropping the series opener, 6-5, they rallied to win the final two games of the series.
On Saturday, Steven Guerra improved to 8-0 and Ryan Mottern (3 RBI) led the Sooners’ offense to a 5-2 victory. Steven Guerra became the first Sooner pitcher to start the season 8-0 since Kevin Olsen started 10-0 in 1998 and first to record eight straight wins since Austin Mix in 2000.
In the series finale, OU rallied from an 8-0 deficit to record four runs in the fifth inning and five more in the eight to top Baylor 11-10 to claim the series victory. Freddy Rodriguez hit his first career home run (three-run shot) and Kevin Smith had three RBI in the contest to help OU overcome its largest deficit of the season.
SCOUTING DALLAS BAPTIST
The Patriots took a season-high, six-game winning streak into last weekend and dropped a three-game series to New Mexico (1-2). After losing the first two games by a run apiece (10-9, 4-3), DBU rebounded for a 10-2 win in the series finale.
The Patriots are no stranger to Big 12 competition as it went 3-6 against the conference last season and is 0-1 so far this year. That loss came at the hands of Texas Tech (13-5) and DBU is scheduled to play six more games against Big 12 competition after Tuesday’s game.
-Offensively, senior outfielder Drew Holder leads DBU in nearly every offensive category except batting average, where he ranks second with a. 377 clip. Holder leads the DBU in doubles (13), homers (10), RBI (47), slugging percentage (.807), total bases (92) and on-base percentage (.479). Sophomore Austin Krum leads the club with a .384 batting average.
-Junior right hander Rodney Brantley will get the starting nod on Tuesday versus the Sooners. Brantley is 5-1 this year in seven starts and owns a 2.51 ERA. In 46 2/3 innings pitched, Brantley has struck out 38 batters and walked 15.
-DBU is coached by Eric Newman, who is in his second season at the Patriots’ helm and is 32-23(.581) in that span. He led DBU to a 32-23 record last year. Returning from last year’s team are seven position starters
-OU owns a 15-1 advantage in the all-time series. The only time OU lost DBU was during the 2004 season (7-5).
OU continues its eight-game home stand and returns to Big 12 action this weekend to host No. 10 Texas for a three-game set at L. Dale Mitchell Park. The entire series will be broadcast by ESPNU and begins on Friday, March 31 at 7 p.m. The series continues on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and the finale is slated for a 1 p.m. first pitch. The three games can also 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 third consecutive week and improved its standing in all but one poll. For the fifth 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. 23 in Collegiate Baseball and No. 15 in the NCBWA poll. The Sooners’ achieved its highest ranking of the season this week at No. 14 in the USA Today/ESPN poll and is ranked No. 18 by Baseball America. Refer to page six for a complete week-by-week breakdown.
IMPRESSIVE LAST 13 GAMES
The Sooners’ season-high, eight-game winning streak came to an end on Friday, March 17 against Arizona State (7-5). Despite the loss, OU rebounded and has won three of the last four games. In the last 13 games, OU is 11-2 and during that span, it has scored 112 runs off 150 hits and is hitting .331 as a team with 33 doubles, ten home runs and 101 RBI. Ryan Rohlinger leads the offensive charge during the streak, with six doubles, three homers and 17 RBI. His .415 batting average is only second to Russel Raley’s .440 clip (11 hits, 2B, 3B and six RBI).
On the mound, Steven Guerra is 4-0 in that same span with a 2.10 ERA.
WHEN A STARTER EXITS
OU is 16-2 this season when the starting pitcher exits the game with the lead. The two exceptions 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 3-3 with wins over Texas State, Notre Dame and Baylor (March 26) and losses to Lamar (Feb. 5), Rice and Wichita State. Additionally, OU is 1-1 this year when a starter throws a complete game. Daniel McCutchen threw both of those games and lost to Memphis before defeating UC Riverside.
The 2006 Sooners are off to one of the best starts in the program’s last 30 years after 26 games. Since 1976, only the 1981 (24-2) 1984 (22-4), and 1985 Sooners (23-3) held a better mark after the first 26 games of the season. Additionally, the 1987 and 1991 teams also started off its respective season at 20-6. The 2006 version of the Sooners will hope to finish as successfully as those teams. In the years listed above, each team finished with 40 or more wins; 1981 (40-15), 1984 (42-15), 1985 (55-14), 1987 (42-20) and 1991 (40-23).
SHUTTING OUT THE OPPOSITION
OU is tied with 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).
The Sooners ended their second longest home stand of the season of four games after the UC Riverside series. OU finished 3-1 during the stretch and is 11-2 overall this season at L. Dale Mitchell Park. The Sooners’ longest home stand (eight games) began last weekend against Baylor and continues with Texas for a three-game set (March 31-April 2) and concludes with UT-Arlington (April 4).
OU AGAINST RANKED COMPETITION
The Sooners have faced six 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 5-4 in those contests and has defeated 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 Arizona State, Rice (4, 5,4, 2) and Wichita State (NR, NR, 28, 24). The Sooners will also face five more teams ranked in this week’s polls (Texas, Missouri, Rice, Wichita State and Nebraska) later on this season, combining for 11 of their final 29 regular season games. (All rankings listed were taken at the time of competition).
SCORING EARLY AND OFTEN
OU is ranked second in the Big 12 (overall games) in runs scored with 208 and it has recorded 68 percent of those tallies in the second through six innings this season. The Sooners have crossed the plate 141 times in those five innings, including 32 times in the second frame alone. Additionally, OU has scored first in all but seven of its games this season (Texas State, Rice, Indiana State, Centenary-GM3, Arizona State-GM1, Baylor-GM1 and GM3) and is 16-3 when it posts the game’s first run, suffering losses to Wichita State, Lamar on Feb. 5 and Memphis.