NORMAN, Okla. -- After putting up impressive offensive numbers against TCU on Tuesday in a 20-10 decision, the Sooners (20-12 overall, 5-4 Big 12) will travel to Austin, Texas, this weekend to battle No. 1 Texas (29-6 overall, 6-5 Big 12).
The Longhorns lead the all-time series 118-47-2, including a 87-27-2 mark at home (17-14 on the road and 14-6 at neutral sites). Under head coach Larry Cochell, OU is 18-30 against UT and the Sooners last won a series in Austin in 1997, when they took two out of the three games.
The three-game series between OU and Texas 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 three games of the series will be televised as the opener will be broadcast by ESPNU (Dave Barnett: play-by-play and Keith Moreland: color), Saturday’s game on Fox Sports Net (Craig Eschenfelder: play-by-play and Keith Moreland: color) and the finale on Sunday on ESPN2 (Mark Neely: play-by-play and Keith Moreland: color). Click here for a complete TV schedule of 2005 Sooner games. All times and availability are subject to change. Live stats will also be available through SoonerSports.com.
STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP
Friday, April 15
OU - D. McCutchen, RHP (1-3, 7.67 ERA)
UT - K. McCulloch, RHP (6-2, 3.13 ERA)
Saturday, April 16
OU - S. Guerra, RHP (4-2, 3.58 ERA)
UT - A. Alaniz, RHP (2-0, 2.14 ERA)
Sunday, April 17
KU - B. Burns, RHP (2-1, 3.49 ERA)
UT - R. Boone, RHP (4-2, 3.05 ERA)
Overall Record: 29-6, Big 12: 6-5
Rankings: No. 1 (Baseball America and Sports Weekly/ESPN)
The Texas Longhorns have gone 8-2 since Baylor swept them in the opening series of Big 12 play almost a month ago. Since then, UT has swept Texas Tech in a shortened series (7-3, 8-7) and took two games away from Kansas State and Nebraska in Big 12 action so far this season. The Longhorns are 4-2 at home in conference play and 22-2 overall when playing at Disch-Falk Field in 2005. The sweep suffered to Baylor is the only time the Longhorns have failed to win a series with an opponent this season.
UT’s Seth Johnston has been the offensive leader so far in 2005. The senior is batting .400 (58-for-145) with a team-leading 30 RBI to accompany his three home runs. Sophomore outfielder Drew Stubbs leads the club with six homers and is batting .299 (44-for-147) in 35 games. Johnston’s numbers are solid in Big 12 play as well, hitting .465 with seven RBI while Stubbs has struggled with a .208 clip and four RBI. On the mound, Kyle McCulloch (RHP) is expected to get the nod in the series opener. McCulloch is 6-2 overall with a 3.13 ERA and 48 strikeouts against 19 walks in 13 appearances, 11 of the appearances are starts (Big 12: 2-1, 3.96 ERA, 16 SO, 7 BB). Saturday (Adrian Alaniz) and Sunday’s (Randy Boone) starters are also right-handers. Adrian Alaniz is 2-0 this season in seven starts with a 2.14 ERA and 43 punch outs while Boone has started 10 games (4-2) and owns a 3.05 ERA with 59 strikeouts (team high).
LAST MEETING WITH TEXAS
After the two split the first two games of the series, the Sooners bid for a series win ended when a ninth inning rally fell short as the 23rd-ranked Sooners were edged 5-4 by top-ranked Texas in the series finale. UT took game one of the match-up, 3-1, and OU battled back the next day to record a 3-2 victory. In the lone win, OU trailed 3-1 before Ryan Rohlinger delivered a two-out double in the bottom of the eighth inning to score the go-ahead runs. Rohlinger finished the series 4-for-6 with three RBI.
LAST TIME OUT
The Sooners swept the season series on Tuesday at L. Dale Mitchell Park against Texas Christian with an offensive outburst of 20 runs (third time this season to score 20 or more tallies) and 20 hits to defeat the Horned Frogs, 20-10. OU won the first game of the year in Fort Worth, 5-4, with Chuckie Caufield’s run in the ninth inning, scored on a stolen base. In Tuesday’s game, OU took its final lead in the bottom of the fifth inning, with three runs, to go ahead 11-10 and then broke the game open with a three-run seventh and a six-run eighth.
Six different Sooners recorded multi-hit games led by Ryan Rohlinger (3 RBI) and Freddy Rodriguez, who collected four hits apiece. Eric Thornton (4 RBI) finished 3-for-6, while Kody Kaiser (2 RBI) and Russell Raley (2 RBI) were 2-for-5 and Kevin Smith was 2-for-4 (2 RBI). John Brownell recorded the win, his second of the year opposite one loss, and lasted two innings to scatter two earned runs on four hits and a walk with one strike out.
ROHLINGER COMFORTABLE BACK IN THE THREE HOLE
Junior Ryan Rohlinger continues to lead the Sooners offensive charge this season as he leads the team in batting average (.378) and hits (48) and is second on the team in RBI (30). Rohlinger has moved up and down the lineup this year, not to mention being moved from shortstop to third base, and seems to have found a comfortable home as the No. 3 hitter. Rohlinger started off the season batting third in the lineup for the first five games of the season but was only hitting .250 with three RBI. After the Feb. 20 game vs. Eastern Illinois, he has not seen time there until three games ago.
Now batting third again, Rohlinger is stroking the ball at a .615 clip (8-for-13) and a .769 slugging percentage, in the last three contests, to go along with a triple and four RBI. In eight games in the No. 3 hole, Rohlinger is batting .394 and slugging .594 with a double, triple, home run, seven walks and seven RBI.
TOP 25 OPPOSITION
The Sooners face five different schools throughout the season (combined 13 games) ranked in either the Baseball America or Sports Weekly/ESPN top 25 polls this week (two in the top 3). All but one of those contests occur in Big 12 competition as Texas (1/1), Baylor (12/16), Nebraska (17/11) and Missouri (13/21) are all currently ranked in the top 25. The Sooners have already played five ranked opponents after defeating then-No. 14 Texas A&M in two games and then-No. 22 TCU and dropping two games to Baylor and single games to No. 2/2 Cal State Fullerton and then-No. 12 Arizona State, 7-0 and 7-5 respectively.
BURNS RECORDS ANOTHER “W”, FINALLY
Outside of the one earned run, freshman pitcher Burns kept Baylor’s offense silent on April 2, as the right-hander left the game after five innings without allowing a hit. Burns left the game with tightness in his shoulder. The hurler walked three and struck out four Bears in his sixth start and eighth appearance of 2005. Kevin Smith and Freddy Rodriguez produced RBI singles in the sixth inning to give OU a 4-1 lead and that helped Brad Burns (2-0) record his first decision in over a month. In seven starts this season, Burns only other decisions of the season came in a win on Feb. 21 versus Eastern Illinois and a loss to Kansas on Sunday.
SEVERAL SOONERS STREAKING
Six different Sooners are currently riding a hitting streak of three or more games. Leading that bunch is Chuckie Caufield, who hit safely in his tenth straight game on Tuesday vs. TCU. The center fielder is batting .341 with three RBI and 10 runs in that span. Kevin Smith is the closest to Caufield with a six-game streak where he is hitting 7-for-20 with seven RBI. In addition, Russell Raley (7-for-20, 4 RBI), Ryan Rohlinger (10-for-16, 5 RBI) and Kody Kaiser (7-for-15, 5 RBI) are on four-game streaks and Eric Thornton (7-for-14, 7 RBI) has hit safely in the last three contests.
The Sooners improved to 16-3 at home after recording a 20-10 win over TCU on Tuesday. In its 19 games played at L. Dale Mitchell Park, OU is hitting .342 as a team and has significantly outscored the opposition, 196-106. All but one of the Sooners’ 15 home runs this season have been hit in their home park. Twenty-seven of Kevin Smith’s team-leading 31 RBI have come at home. The junior is hitting .385 with a .585 slugging percentage in the 19 games. Left-handed pitcher Garrett Patterson has also enjoyed playing in front of the home crowd. The junior is 3-0 with a save in three starts and two relief appearances at L. Dale Mitchell Park. The lefty has 31 strikeouts in 23.2 innings pitched and a 1.90 ERA in games played in Norman.
The Sooners won their first road game of the season against TCU on March 22 but continue to struggle with a 2-6 mark. The Sooners have only lost two three-game series so far this season, both on the road (ASU and Baylor). So far this season, OU is 4-9 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 2-6 in “true” road games, dropping three contests to ASU, two at Baylor and one at then-No. 2 Cal State Fullerton, and is batting just .212 with 18 RBI in those contests.
KAISER ON A ROLL
Despite snapping a nine-game hitting streak on Feb. 28 against Western Illinois, freshman Kody Kaiser continues to hit the ball well in his first season at OU. The freshman has started all 32 of the Sooners’ games this season. Kaiser has hit safely in all but seven of those games (UCLA, Nevada, Arizona State, Texas A&M and Baylor-2) in 2005. He is second on the team with 43 hits and third with a batting average of .328. The Edmond, Okla., has come within one hit of completing the cycle on two occasions this season and has collected seven 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 four games (7-for-18), batted out of the three-hole (26-for-94) in 23 contests, batted fourth in two games (4-for-7), batted fifth in two games (3-for-8) and hit in the sixth spot (3-for-4) in his remaining game.
Seniors Eric Thornton, Matt Bose and Jeff Scuderi 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).
ROAD RADIO - Texas (94.1 FM)
Fans traveling to Sooner baseball games on the road will be able to listen to the Sooner Sports Network radio broadcast on a special feature called “Road Radio”. At each site, fans using a regular Walkman radio may tune in to a special FM frequency to hear Chuck Kelly with the play-by-play of the game as broadcast live on KOKC 1520 AM or on the internet via Yahoo broadcasts. The frequency will be announced at the ballpark and will be available on the web site for future games. The feature is also made available at home games when the broadcast is internet only. When at L. Dale Mitchell Park, fans can tune into 95.5 FM to catch the play-by-play.
KANSAS POST-SERIES NOTES
OU defeated Kansas 7-5 and 11-9 in the first two games of the three-game set to record the series victory before dropping the finale, 9-3. The Sooners’ overall mark against the Jayhawks improved to 91-46 (36-11 at home).
Sunday’s 9-3 loss snapped OU’s five-game winning streak at home and it marked just the third loss of the season suffered at L. Dale Mitchell Park in 18 games. The last time OU was defeated in Norman came in the series opener against Texas A&M on March 24.
Chuckie Caufield’s double in the fifth frame extended his hitting streak to nine games. In that span the junior is batting .350 (raising his batting average 21 points since the streak started) with 14 hits (3 doubles) and three RBI.
After Kansas had posted six errors in the series’ first two games, OU returned the favor in the finale with a season-high six errors. The seven runs in the KU first inning on Sunday was also a season high allowed by the Sooners, the six surrendered to Nevada earlier this year was the previous high.