NORMAN, Okla. -- The No. 13 Oklahoma baseball team (39-17, 17-10 Big 12) returns to the diamond on Wednesday to begin postseason play with the Kansas Jayhawks (38-23, 13-14) at 5 p.m. OU enters the first game of the 2006 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship, at the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, as the field’s No. 3 seeded team, while the Jayhawks are seeded sixth.
The game is the fourth meeting between the teams this season with OU holding a 2-1 advantage. The Sooners hold a 137-80-1 lead in the all-time series. Wednesday’s game is the first ever between OU and Kansas in Big 12 postseason play. To purchase tickets to next week's games, call (405) 236-5000 or visit Big12Sports.com.
All of the Sooners’ games this week will be broadcast live in Oklahoma City on KOKC 1520 AM with Chuck Kelly calling the play-by-play. Pregame coverage begins 15 minutes prior to first pitch.
For fans outside the listening area, live audio of all games will be provided via the internet through Yahoo Sports. Live statistics for all games are also available on SoonerSports.com.
UPDATING THE SOONERS
The Oklahoma Sooners rebounded last weekend with a 2-1 series victory at then-No. 11 Nebraska.
OU opened up the three-game set with a 3-2 victory which was anchored by strong pitching. Steven Guerra tossed seven strong innings to earn his 10th victory of the season and Daniel McCutchen nailed down his first save of the season with two solid frames.
After dropping game two, 10-4, the Sooners rebounded on Sunday with a complete effort to defeat the Cornhuskers 6-2. McCutchen made his second appearance of the weekend and struck out 11 batters in eight innings of action. The offense pounded out 13 hits and secured third place in the Big 12 standings.
Sunday’s win, OU’s 39th of the year, marked the most in program history since the 1989 team won 42 games in the regular season. The 2006 regular season win total also tied the 39 won by the 1994 team, which went on to win the College World Series.
PLAYER TO WATCH: DANIEL MCCUTCHEN
Since the last meeting with Oklahoma, Kansas suffered a three-game sweep to Texas before rebounding to win five of its last seven games to close out the regular season.
-Offensively, a duo of seniors lead the team. Senior Jared Schweitzer is tops among batting averages with a .351 clip. Schweitzer also has eight homers and 33 RBI. Senior Gus Milner is the club’s top RBI hitter with 54, one behind OU’s Kevin Smith.
-Senior, Kodiak Quick is expected to get the starting nod on Wednesday against the Sooners. The righty is 10-4 this year (6-3 in Big 12) with a 3.29 ERA. In 98.1 innings, the hurler has 60 strikeouts opposite 33 walks. Senior Don Czyz (5-0, 1.62 ERA) leads the Big 12 with 17 saves.
-Kansas is coached by Ritch Price, who is in his fourth season at the helm with a 139-111-1 (.555) record. In 12 overall seasons as a head coach, Price is 356-336-2 (.514). The Jayhawks return 17 letterwinners and seven position starters from a 2005 team that finished seventh in the Big 12 (36-28 overall, 11-15).
-OU leads the all-time series with Kansas 137-80-1 . The Sooners have won seven of the last eight games with the Jayhawks and since Big 12 play began in 1997, OU is 22-8 against KU. The two have never met in Big 12 postseason play.
With the new format for this year’s championship (pool play), OU will play at least two more games after Wednesday’s showdown with Kansas, continuing with No. 7 seeded Missouri (29-24, 12-15) on Friday at 5 p.m. The third round game will provide OU with a chance to avenge a Bedlam sweep from two weeks ago, when it meets Oklahoma State on Saturday at 5 p.m.
CAUFIELD NAMED SEMI-FINALST FOR POY AWARD
Senior Chuckie Caufield joined a field of 30 players that will look to win the 2006 Brooks Wallace College Player of the Year Award this July. The semi-finalist list will be cut to three on June 15.
AROUND THE BIG 12
Below is a look at this week’s schedule around the Big 12, Sunday’s Championship game will be played at 1 p.m.
Wednesday - Time
#5 Baylor vs. #4 Nebraska - 10 a.m.
#8 Texas Tech vs. #1 Texas - 1 p.m.
#7 Missouri vs. #2 Oklahoma State - 8 p.m.
Thursday - Time
#1 Texas vs. #5 Baylor - 5 p.m.
#4 Nebraska vs. #8 Texas Tech - 8 p.m.
Friday - Time
#2 Oklahoma State vs. #6 Kansas - 8 p.m.
Saturday - Time
#5 Baylor vs. #8 Texas Tech - 10 a.m.
#1 Texas vs. #4 Nebraska - 1 p.m.
#6 Kansas vs. #7 Missouri - 8 p.m.
Saturday - Time
Championship Game (FSN) - 1 p.m.
OU IN BIG 12 POSTSEASON PLAY
After going 0-2 in last year’s championship, the Sooners are 15-17 in Big 12 postseason play and they are 2-2 as the No. 3 seed. The Sooners have won one Big 12 postseason Championship in 1997. Below is a look at how OU has fared against each team in the Big 12 in the postseason tourney:
Texas A&M 3-4
Texas Tech 4-3
The Sooners’ starting pitchers from the weekend rotation -- Daniel McCutchen, Steve Guerra and P.J. Sandoval -- were all named to the Academic All-Big 12 Team along with Aaron Ivey and Ryan Rohlinger.
Guerra and Sandoval were named to the first team for having a GPA between 3.20-4.00, McCutchen was named to the second team for having a GPA between 3.00-3.19.
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 11th consecutive week. For the 12th 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. 13 in Collegiate Baseball and No. 14 in the NCBWA poll. In the USA Today/ESPN poll, OU remained in the No. 13 slot and Baseball America also has the Sooners at No. 13. Refer to page six for a complete week-by-week breakdown of the rankings.
OKLAHOMA/BIG 12 RPI’s
Although not official, Boydsworld.com provides a weekly pseudo RPI system. OU is ranked No. 10 in last week’s ranking released on Monday, May 22. The Big 12 is rated the No. 3 power conference in the nation and is right behind the ACC and SEC. Texas (No. 5) and Nebraska (No. 7) are the only Big 12 teams ahead of OU.
NATIONAL STATISTICAL RANKINGS
In the last NCAA statistical rankings, released on Tuesday, May 16 Oklahoma was listed as the best team in terms of fielding percentage (.984). In addition, OU was tied for 24th in terms of winning percentage (.698), and 19th in batting average (.323). Individually, Steven Guerra has the third most wins in the nation (9). Nine pitchers have 11 wins, while six others have reached 10. Will Savage is tied for 32nd in the nation with nine saves.
OU AGAINST RANKED COMPETITION
The Sooners have faced ten 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 11-12 in those contests with wins over Nebraska (11, 8, 10, 11), Kansas (NR, NR, NR, 30) Rice (1, 2, 3, 1), 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, 28). OU has lost to Nebraska, Kansas, Texas-twice, Arizona State, Rice (4, 5,4, 2), Wichita State (NR, NR, 28, 24) twice (NR, NR, NR, 23) and was swept by Oklahoma State (NR, 24, 26, 28). All rankings listed were taken at the time of competition.
BEST IN THE BIG 12
The Sooners knew heading into 2006 that the defense would be solid with all but one position starter returning from 2005. So far after 56 games, OU owns the best fielding percentage in the Big 12 (.984), has committed the fewest errors (34) and is fifth in double plays turned (49). OU has finished 24 games this season without an error and is 20-4 in those contests.
TWO OUT OF THREE AIN'T BAD
In all but two of the 16 weekends of the 2006 regular season, OU has come out with at least two wins, including five sweeps (Western Illinois, UC Riverside, Centenary, Missouri and Texas Tech). The weekend against Texas marked the first below .500 record for OU in a weekend series. OU lost the first two games but rallied to defeat Texas 12-7 in the series finale. In addition, the series loss to Texas was the first Big 12 series defeat under head coach Sunny Golloway. The Sooners also lost the three-game series to Oklahoma State this season. OU, led by Golloway in 2005, defeated Kansas St., Oklahoma State and Texas Tech in three-game series and also topped Texas A&M, Baylor, Missouri, Texas Tech, Kansas and Nebraska this season.
OU has connected for 165 RBI with two outs on the board in 2006. That accounts for 44 percent of the team’s total of 377 RBI. The team’s top two RBI individuals, Kevin Smith (55) and Ryan Rohlinger (49), each have double-digit RBI with two outs with 29 and 26, respectively. In addition, Kody Kaiser (35) has driven in 16 runs with two out and while Aaron Reza (30) has 15 and Freddy Rodriguez (36) has 19. As a team, OU is hitting .319 with two outs, led by Rohlinger’s .408 clip.
OU HISTORY IN TOP 25 POLLS
The last time OU was ranked as high as No. 8 was during the 1998 season (No. 8 by Collegiate Baseball on March 16). In the USA Today/ESPN poll released on March 16 of that year, OU was the No. 7 ranked team in the nation. The 1998 team was ranked as high as No. 3 (CB) on March 9.
STREAK STOPS AT 13
The Sooners’ season high 13-game winning streak was stopped in its last contest versus Kansas. The streak was the longest since the 1985 season when the Sooners strung together 19 consecutive victories. During the recent streak, OU hit .365 as a team with 28 doubles and 16 home runs. Kevin Smith drove in 20 runs during the winning streak and Ryan Rohlinger drove in 17. In addition, Kody Kaiser (15 RBI) was one of four Sooners (Caufield, Rohlinger, Smith) to hit three homers.
One of the goals established by pitching coach Fred Corral was to have his staff reach 300 innings before 100 walks. After game three of the Texas A&M series, OU had walked 97 batters in 303 IP. Currently, the pitching staff is averaging just under three walks per game (2.88, fourth-best average in the Big 12) and has walked two or fewer batters on 27 occasions this year (OU is 20-7 in those games), 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 consecutive 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 separate outings without surrendering a walk.
The Sooners have played in 20 one-run games this season and have suffered losses in five of those contests. Two of those defeats occurred in back-to-back weekends (Arizona State-GM1 and Baylor-GM1). The other two one-run defeats came in the Service Academies Classic against Memphis and against Kansas State (5/6). The fifth came in the series opener to Kansas State (5/6). In 2005, OU played in 12 one-run games and recorded a 9-3 mark.
SHUTTING OUT THE OPPOSITION
OU is second in the Big 12 in shutouts with five this season (Missouri-6, Nebraska-5, Oklahoma State-5). The Sooners have blanked Western Illinois (14-0), UC Riverside (1-0), Centenary (12-0), UT-Arlington (8-0) and Texas A&M (1-0 in 11 innings) in 2006. The Sooners only recorded two shutouts all of last season and the last time an OU squad posted five shutouts was in 1992. The record for most shutouts in a season is 18 (1976 and 1973).