March 12, 2001

A CLOSER LOOK AT OKLAHOMA

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Oklahoma Begins Eight-Game Road Stretch At Oral Roberts

Coming off an 11-game homestand, the Oklahoma baseball team (8-13, 4-2 Big 12) now hits the road for the next eight games. The stretch begins with a mid-week contest at ORU on Tuesday before heading to Baylor for the weekend. The game at ORU is slated to start at 3 p.m. at J.L. Johnson Stadium in Tulsa.

Last Time Out

With the help of two seventh inning home runs, Texas A&M defeated Oklahoma 3-2 Sunday afternoon at L. Dale Mitchell Park and captured their third-straight Big 12 Conference series win in Norman. The solo shots by A&M were launched by rightfielder Neal Stephenson and first baseman Jeff Freeman off of OU starting pitcher Austin Mix (0-3) in the seventh frame with the Sooners clinging to a 2-1 lead.

After A&M jumped ahead with a 1-0 advantage in the third inning, OU scored two runs in the fifth inning to claim the lead. With one out in the inning, senior third baseman Jason Bartlett (1-for-4) reached second base on an error by the Aggie shortstop. Senior first baseman Greg Dobbs (1-for-3) followed with a walk and junior designated hitter Charlie Frasier (1-for-4) laced a double to score Bartlett and advance Dobbs to third. Dobbs crossed home plate on the next play, a ground out by junior rightfielder Zach Harris (1-for-4).

Despite the loss, Mix pitched the entire game for his second career complete game and allowed only seven hits and two earned runs while striking out eight batters.

Although OU was only able to muster six hits total off of A&M reliever Chris Russ (4-1) and starter Justin Moore, the Sooners stranded nine runners on base, including four in scoring position.

At The Plate

As a team, Oklahoma is batting .304 with 22 home runs and 132 RBIs ... The Sooners' batting average continued to rise for the third-consecutive week ... Last week (against Creighton and Texas A&M), OU's offense averaged 11.60 hits and 7.20 runs per game ... The offense has recorded five double digit-hit and three double digit-run performances over the last seven games ... Every member of the regular starting lineup has belted a home run this season ... On the season, Oklahoma has produced 39 RBIs with two outs in an inning ... Junior designated hitter Charlie Frasier leads all Sooners in the category with seven ... For the third-consecutive week, senior first baseman Greg Dobbs was the team's leading hitter ... Dobbs batted .409 (9-for-22) with five runs scored and three RBIs.

On The Mound

The Sooner pitching staff is currently sporting a 5.54 ERA and has allowed 114 earned runs in 185.1 innings pitched ... The staff allowed 26 runs to score during the final three innings over five games combined last week ... In comparison, the opposition only scored 18 runs through the first six frames over that span ... Eight different pitchers have received starting assignments ... Sophomore righty Austin Mix leads all hurlers with 40 strikeouts.

DIAMOND NOTES

* The team dropped their third-straight home series to Texas A&M last weekend since the inception of the Big 12 Conference in 1997.

* The defense committed 10 errors over five games last week.

* The Sooners went 6-5 over the recent 11-game homestand.

* Head Coach Larry Cochell is two wins shy of 400 victories at Oklahoma.

* OU has the same Big 12 Conference record (4-2) through the first two league series this year that it had a year ago.

* Junior pitcher Rocky Cherry currently sits in sixth place on OU's career appearances list with 60 outings over the last three years. Cherry is nine appearances shy of breaking the all-time mark of 68 set by Casey Mendenhall (1990-92).

* Starting leftfielder Bryan King, batting .333 on the year and third on the squad in RBIs, suffered a torn ACL while running the bases in Sunday's game and will be lost for the remainder of the season.

* Over Austin Mix's last three starts, in which he has two losses, the Sooner offense is only averaging 1.67 runs per game.

MORE ON OKLAHOMA

Tough Loss

Starting leftfielder Bryan King suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee while running the basepaths during Sunday's series finale against Texas A&M and will be lost to the team for the rest of the season. The senior currently ranks third on the team in hitting with a .333 mark, is first in slugging percentage at .583 and doubles with eight, second in runs scored with 19 and third in RBIs with 16 on the year. King is also tied for the club lead in stolen bases with six.

King transferred to Oklahoma after the 2000 season from Arkansas, where, as a junior, he hit .274, cracked three home runs and drove in 23 runs, while scoring 26 more.

Freshman Ryan Welborn is projected to fill the starting role vacated by King. Welborn is currently hitting at a .357 (5-for-14) clip with four runs scored and one RBI in nine games played.

Offensive Explosion

Over the last 11 games, OU's offense has been hard to stop. The team is hitting .324 with 85 runs scored and 31 extra-base hits, including 11 home runs, and has combined for a .463 slugging percentage. The Sooners have also recorded five double digit-run and seven double digit-hit efforts over that time. Seven of the nine individuals in the regular starting lineup over that span batted over the .300 mark.

Stepping Up

Junior righthander Rocky Cherry has turned in strong pitching performances in his last two starts for a pitching staff that has picked up most of its wins in relief. After beginning the season making five relief appearances, Cherry has earned two starts in his last three outings and has posted a 2-0 record over in the two starts to improve his 2001 record to 4-1, which leads the team. In his two starts, the Coppell, Texas, native has posted a 2.08 ERA, allowed 12 hits and three earned runs in 13 innings pitched, while striking out five and issuing only one walk.

Appearing in a starting role is nothing new to Cherry who has split time in both starting and relief roles during his three-year career at Oklahoma. Over his last 11 decisions, Cherry is 9-2 during that time dating back to the middle of last season.

AT THE PLATE: ORAL ROBERTS

Scouting The Golden Eagles

Oral Roberts has jumped out to a 10-3 mark to start the 2001 season and has won seven of its last eight contests. The only losses suffered on the season came at the hands of Texas-Arlington (6-4), Southern Illinois (4-2) and nationally-ranked Arizona State (17-3). The Golden Eagles have yet to lose at home this year as they have posted a perfect 6-0 mark and are outscoring their opponents at a rate of 48-10 at J.L. Johnson Stadium.

On the year, ORU's offense is outscoring the opposition 87-51. As a team, the Golden Eagles are batting .272 with eight home runs and 79 RBIs. Senior shortstop Steve Holm leads all hitters with a .346 average and is tied for second on the team in runs scored with 12. Junior outfielder Wilton Reynolds provides the offensive power for the club with his team-leading three home runs and 14 RBIs.

On the mound for ORU, the pitching staff has combined for a 3.24 ERA and has only given up 41 earned runs in 114.0 innings pitched. Starting pitcher Michael Rogers, a junior righthander, owns a staff-low 1.61 ERA and .204 opponent batting average and is one of two pitchers to have a perfect 3-0 record on the season. The other pitcher with a 3-0 record thus far is junior righthander Stockton Davis.

The Sooners can expect to face Rogers or one of two other ORU hurlers on Tuesday, senior lefty Trevor Leu (1-1, 6.00 ERA) or freshman righthander Rene' Recio (1-1, 5.40 ERA). Leu went 0-1 against OU in one start against the Sooners last year.