NORMAN, Okla. -- With 12 games remaining in the Big 12 season, Oklahoma (24-20, 7-11) begins a critical series on Friday against Kansas State (24-20, 7-14) in Manhattan, Kan., at 6:30 p.m. The Sooners will continue the series on Saturday at 2 p.m. and wrap things up on Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Sooners are currently in seventh place in the Big 12 standings, trailing Texas Tech (8-11) and sitting ahead of the Wildcats in tenth place.
The Sooners have won five consecutive games in the series and hold a 9-1 mark against the Wildcats in the last 10 games, the lone defeat coming in Manhattan (2003). OU has won the last three series meetings against KSU and hold a 167-61-1 advantage in the all-time series.
The three-game series between OU and Kansas State 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.
KANSAS STATE NOTES
Overall Record: 24-20, Big 12: 7-14 | Rankings: NR
The Wildcats have won six out of the last seven home games, with the lone loss coming in a ten-inning defeat to Texas A&M (6-5) on April 24. Kansas State is 15-7 at home this season and five of those losses have come in Big 12 play (three games to Missouri, Texas Tech and Texas A&M).
Kansas State owns the third highest overall batting average in the Big 12, hitting at a .313 clip. Seven different regulars are hitting over that mark and Steve Murphy leads the club with eight home runs and 38 RBI. Murphy is hitting .335 so far this season after leading the club with a .338 average a year ago. He added three homers and 40 RBI in 2004 to earn Second Team All-Big 12 honors.
KSU will throw Chase Mitchell (5-5, 4.87 ERA) in the series opener. The right-hander has suffered all five of his defeats in Big 12 play and has struck out 47 batters in 64.2 innings pitched in 11 starts this season. A lefty, Mitch Walter, will take the mound in game two on Saturday. Walter is 2-3 this season in 11 starts and 0-2 in conference play (seven starts). The left-hander posts a 5.25 ERA after seeing action in 58.1 innings and leads the club in walks with 27. Adam Cowart is set to finish off the Wildcats’ rotation in the finale on Sunday. Cowart leads the team in victories (6-3) but is below .500 in conference action with a 2-3 mark. The righty owns the lowest ERA (4.31) among Kansas State’s starters but that average increases in his seven Big 12 starts (6.00). Cowart leads the Wildcats in strikeouts (50) and innings pitched (77.1).
STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP
Friday, May 6
OU - D. McCutchen, RHP (2-3, 4.44 ERA)
KSU - C. Mitchell, RHP (5-5, 4.87 ERA)
Saturday, May 7
OU - S. Guerra, RHP (4-5, 4.76 ERA)
KSU - M. Walter, LHP (2-3, 5.25 ERA)
Sunday, May 8
OU - TBA
KSU - A. Cowart, RHP (6-3, 4.31 ERA)
2004 MEETINGS WITH KANSAS STATE
The Sooners outscored the Wildcats, 44-12, in the three meetings last season at L. Dale Mitchell Park. The victories marked the fourth consecutive time that OU had swept KSU at home during the regular season.
OU opened the series by driving in 21 runs on 15 hits to easily outpace the visitors, 21-6. Game two featured much of the same as OU recorded 12 hits in the 11-3 victory. Then the Sooners finished off Kansas State in the finale, 12-3. The home team also had solid pitching as all three starters lasted at least six innings (Mark Roberts-6, David Purcey-7 and Mike Swindell-7.
LAST TIME OUT - SOONERS EDGE WICHITA STATE, 5-4
The Sooners (24-20) got a much needed win, 5-4, on Tuesday over Wichita State (34-19) at L. Dale Mitchell Park to split the four-game home stand. Russell Raley led the way offensively with two hits and two RBI. Freddy Rodriguez and Chuckie Caufield added three hits and two hits, respecitvely.
OU used a four-run fifth inning to take a two-run advantage and the Sooners’ bullpen, led by Will Savage and Garrett Patterson, held down the lead. Savage pitched 4.2 innings after taking over for starter John Brownell in the fourth inning. Savage earned the win after recording three strikeouts and allowing one run on five hits. Patterson then entered the game in the ninth to record his second save of the season.
THORNTON THUMPS SHOCKERS
Eric Thornton collected five RBI in a week’s span against Wichita State. In the first meeting, Thornton drove a three-run homer to right field, which in turn tied the game at four runs apiece, but OU eventually lost 7-5. In Tuesday’s contest, Thornton hit a two-run double and those two RBI put the Sooners ahead, 4-2. Thornton is currently tied for the team lead in RBI, with 36.
CAUFIELD’S SPEED = SOONERS’ SUCCESS
Junior Chuckie Caufield leads the 2005 Sooners, after 44 games, in runs scored (37) and stolen bases (7). In games where the centerfielder scores a run, OU is 16-9 (.640) and 6-0 when the Ada, Okla., native swipes a stolen base. Even in the three games that Caufield has been caught stealing, the Sooners remain perfect with two more victories.
McCUTCHEN IS CLUTCH
Since blowing a save against Nevada on March 6, Daniel McCutchen has returned to being a starter for the Sooners. McCutchen has spent most of the season in the bullpen with some struggles but he has redeemed himself with three solid starts in the last three weeks. The games marked his first starts since the second game of the season against then-No. 12 Arizona State. Since the game against Nevada in the KIA Klassic, the hard throwing righty has lowered his ERA from a 13.03 to its current total of 4.44. In his last four appearances, three of which were starts, the Norman, Okla., native has allowed just four runs (two earned) in 29.1 innings tossed. Also in that span, McCutchen has posted 34 strikeouts and allowed just 18 hits and eight walks. Against No. 5 Nebraska last Thursday, the hurler recorded his first decision in the last four contests (Kansas, No. 1 Texas, No. 17 Missouri), leading OU to a 5-1 win..
Junior (2B) Russell Raley’s extended his hitting streak to ten games in Tuesday’s 5-4 victory over Wichita State. Raley’s streak is the currently the longest by any Sooner and in that span, he has collected 15 hits and 10 RBI. 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.
Sooner reliever Will Savage has become OU’s goto guy in the bullpen as the junior leads the team with 69.2 innings pitched and 20 appearances. Savage has started just five games this season and also leads the team in victories (5-3). On Tuesday against Wichita State, Savage allowed his first earned run in his last five relief appearances (15.1 innings). In those five appearances, Savage has struck out nine, opposite two walks.
The Sooners won their first road game of the season against then-No. 22 TCU on March 22 but continue to struggle with a 3-12 mark. The Sooners have lost just four three-game series so far this season, all on the road (Missouri, Texas, ASU and Baylor). So far this season, OU is 5-15 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 3-12 in “true” road games, dropping three contests at Texas, three at ASU, two at Baylor, two at Missouri and one at Wichita State and one at then-No. 2 Cal State Fullerton, and is batting just .218 with 40 RBI in those contests
RODRIGUEZ BACK ON THE RISE
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. In the last 13 games, he has collected the most hits (19) by any Sooner in that span. The Westminister, Calif., native is currently batting .298 (third best on the team) and he is trying to get over the .300 plateau for the first time since March 22.
LOOKING BACK A YEAR AGO
After 44 games last season, the 2004 Sooners were 27-17 overall (16-9 home / 7-6 away) and 13-6 in Big 12 play. That same OU team was hitting .282 (426 hits) with 32 homers, 231 RBI and 266 runs scored. On the other side of the ball, the Sooners’ pitching staff held a 4.04 ERA.
In 2005, OU is 24-20 after 44 games (19-5 home / 3-12 away) and 7-11 in conference action. This year’s Sooners are hitting .292 (449 hits) with 22 home runs, 254 RBI and 29 runs scored. In addition, OU hurler’s in 2005 have a combined ERA of 4.62.
PATTERSON SPELLS RELIEF
Left-hander Garrett Patterson has 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 five 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 11.2 innings out of the bullpen, Patterson has allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits and 10 walks. In addition, the McAlester, Okla., native has struck out 20. Patterson did start against Nebraska over the weekend and threw 6.1 innings in which he allowed two earned runs on six hits. On Tuesday against Wichita State, he recorded two strikeouts in the ninth inning to post his second save of the season. Against Missouri (4/23), Patterson finished off a suspended game against to pick up what Daniel McCutchen started. Patterson threw 4.2 innings of one-hit ball. The two hurlers combined to strike out a season-high 15 batters in the ten-inning win (2-1) over No. 17 Missouri.
ROHLINGER STAYS HOT
Junior Ryan Rohlinger continues to lead the Sooners offensive charge this season as he is tops on the team in batting average (.357), hits (60) and second on the team in RBI (34). Rohlinger hit .282 last year with six homers and 32 RBI. Rohlinger has moved up and down the lineup this year, not to mention being moved from shortstop to third base, and is currently been hitting out of the three-hole. The West Bend, Wisc., native recently had his seven-game hitting streak snapped against Nebraska but he has hit safely in 12 of the last 16 games with a .386 batting average in that span. He has also collected seven multi-hit games in the last 16 contests to go along with two home runs, nine RBI and a .544 slugging percentage.
The Sooners improved to 19-5 at home after recording a 5-4 win over Wichita State on Tuesday. In its 24 games played at L. Dale Mitchell Park, OU is hitting .334 as a team and has significantly outscored the opposition, 219-132. All but four of the Sooners’ 22 home runs this season have been hit in their home park. Twenty-seven of Kevin Smith’s 32 RBI have come at home. The junior is hitting .329 with a .488 slugging percentage in the 24 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 three 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.