NORMAN, Okla., -- The Oklahoma Sooners (13-8) will open Big 12 action with No. 14/15 (Baseball America/ESPN-Sports Weekly) Texas A&M on Thursday, March 24 at 7 p.m. at L. Dale Mitchell Park. OU is coming off a 5-4 upset of No. 22 TCU in Fort Worth, Texas on Tuesday. The win snapped the Sooners’ three-game losing skid and provided some much needed momentum to enter the Big 12 season.
Game two of the Texas A&M series is also scheduled for a 7 p.m. start on Friday and the series finale will see the first pitch thrown near 2 p.m. The Aggies are coached by Mark Johnson, who in 20 years at A&M has compiled an 846-406-2 record. In the last 10 meetings, the series is tied at five games apiece.
All three games of the Texas A&M series 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. Friday’s game will also be broadcast live on television by OU channel 4 (Cox). All times and availability are subject to change. Live stats will also be available through SoonerSports.com.
WEEKEND'S PROBABLE STARTERS
Thursday, March 24
OU - W. Savage, RHP (2-2, 3.41 ERA)
TAMU - J. Meyer, LHP (5-1, 3.53 ERA)
Friday, March 25
OU - S. Guerra, RHP (2-1, 4.26 ERA)
TAMU - K. Marlatt, RHP (3-1, 1.35 ERA)
Saturday, March 26
OU - B. Burns, RHP (1-0, 3.67 ERA)
TAMU - TBA
TEXAS A&M NOTES
Overall Record: 18-7, Big 12: 1-2
Rankings: Baseball America - 14, ESPN/Sports Weekly - 15
Texas A&M is coming off a 9-2 win over Houston on Tuesday. It was the Aggies’ fifth road win of the season in seven tries. With an overall record of 18-7 and a 1-2 mark in Big 12 play, the Aggies will come to Norman after dropping two out of three games in their Big 12 opening series a week ago at then-No. 24 Texas Tech. The Aggies were outscored 19-8 in that series and lost a close second game, 1-0. Texas A&M is led by Cliff Pennington who has turned in a .416 clip after 25 games this season. Pennington also leads the team in RBI (23), homers (5) and slugging percentage (.697). He has also displayed some patience at the plate, walking 20 times and only striking out on seven occasions in 89 at-bats.
OU will see Jason Meyer (LHP) throw for A&M on Thursday. Meyer is 5-1 on the season and suffered the loss in the Aggies’ 13-1 loss to Texas Tech last weekend. Meyer has defeated Tennessee, then-No. 19 Washington and then-No. 18 Southern California by striking out 28 batters in six starts this season and his ERA stands at 3.53. Friday’s stater, Kyle Marlatt, has made eight appearances (three starts) for Texas A&M this season and holds a 1.35 ERA and a 3-1 record. Marlatt has struck out 14 and walked 12 in 26.2 innings pitched. The Aggies’ Saturday starter is yet to be determined.
LAST MEETING WITH THE AGGIES
The Sooners took two out of three games last season at Olsen Field. Russell Raley batted .417 in that series with three RBI and Ryan Rohlinger also swung a hot bat (.300, HR, 5 RBI). OU was ranked No. 18 at the time and Texas A&M came into the series at No. 13. The series opener saw the Aggies top the Sooners, 11-8, but OU battled back in the final two games of the series to win 8-7 and 9-5.
SOONERS CAREER NUMBERS VERSUS TEXAS A&M
Below is a look at some of the Sooners’ career numbers against the Aggies over the past three seasons.
CAUFIELD STEALS THE SHOW
Junior Chuckie Caufield stole his team-leading sixth stolen base in style on Tuesday in OU’s 5-4 win over Texas Christian. The swipe of home plate in the ninth inning provided OU with the go-ahead run against. He was thrown out earlier in the game for just his second unsuccessful attempt this year. Not only did Caufield’s speed help win the contest, but his bat was more than sufficient hitting out his regular leadoff spot. The Ada, Okla., native finished the game 4-for-5 and raised his batting average to .343, second highest on the squad this season.
MORE ON THE TCU WIN
The game gave OU its first road win of the season in six attempts
OU recorded its first win over a ranked opponent this season by defeating No. 22 (Baseball America) TCU
The Sooners were 0-7 entering the game when trailing after seven innings. However, OU overcame a 4-2 deficit after the seventh frame and completed the rally to trump the Horned Frogs, 5-4.
Closer Daniel McCutchen turned in his second-consecutive solid relief appearance of the year. McCutchen recorded the save (2) against TCU following his performance in the ninth that included one strike out and one hit. McCutchen also pitched well coming out of the bullpen against Arizona State in the series finale.
P.J. Sandoval turned in his best performance of 2005. The JUCO transfer turned in 3.1 innings of one-hit ball to record his second win of the season. Sandoval struck out two and did not walk a TCU batter.
ROHLINGER’S HOT BAT SILENCED IN ARIZONA
Junior Ryan Rohlinger’s career-high hitting streak of 12 games came to an end against Arizona State in Tempe on Sunday. Entering the game, Rohlinger had collected 26 hits (3 doubles, two triples, home run) and 16 RBI over the last 12 games but the 0-for-5 performance against the Sun Devils in the final game of the series ended that streak. Rohlinger still leads the team in batting average (.384), hits (33) and is second on the team with 20 RBI. The West Bend, Wisc., native’s previous best hitting streak was established last year on two occassions, when he reached a string of eight consecutive games.
The Sooners won their first road game against TCU to help improve the road record to 1-5. OU ran into trouble last weekend when it was swept in three games against Arizona State in Tempe. So far this season, OU is 3-8 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 1-5 in “true” road games, dropping three contests to ASU and one at then-No. 2 Cal State Fullerton, and is batting just .226 with 11 RBI in those contests.
Ryan Rohlinger hit the second walk-off home run of his Oklahoma career on March 13 to help the Sooners top Northwestern State and give OU the series win (2-1). Rohlinger drove an 0-2 fastball over the right field fence in the bottom of the ninth inning, with two runners on, to push the Sooners ahead 7-6 for the win. His first career walk-off homer at OU came a year ago in head coach Larry Cochell’s 500th victory at OU. The two-run home run gave the Sooners a 7-5 win over Arkansas-Little Rock on April 27. Rohlinger finished the final game against Northwestern State with a 2-for-3 day that included three RBI and two runs scored.
Junior Freddy Rodriguez has proved to be a valuable asset to the Sooners’ offense and defense. The versatile infielder, who has played at every position in the infield this season, is fifth on the team in batting average with a .315 clip. His 15 RBI ranks fifth on the team. The Westminister, Calif., native had his nine-game hitting streak snapped on March 13 but he was able to collect 17 hits and 12 RBI in that span. OU is 4-4 when he starts at first base and 5-2 when he starts at the other infield positions.
The Sooners improved to 10-1 at home after recording a 4-1 mark during their last home stand that consisted of five games. OU was scheduled to play six consecutive games at home before the game on Tuesday, March 15 was rained out against Dallas Baptist. In its 11 games played at L. Dale Mitchell Park, OU is hitting .356 as a team and has significantly outscored the opposition, 138-59. All but one of the Sooners’ 12 home runs this season have been hit in their home park.
TOP 25 OPPOSITION
The Sooners face eight different schools throughout the season (combined 20 games) ranked in either the Baseball America or Sports Weekly/ESPN top 25 polls this week (three in the top 10). More than half of those contests occur once Big 12 competition begins as Texas (4/4), Texas A&M (14/15), Baylor (10/11), Nebraska (20/16), Texas Tech (21/19) are all currently ranked in the top 25. TCU (22-Baseball America) and Wichita State (22-ESPN) are the only non-conference opponent left on OU’s schedule. The Sooners have already played three ranked opponents after defeating No. 22 TCU and then dropping games to Cal State Fullerton (1/1) and then-No. 12 Arizona State, 7-0 and 7-5 respectively.