NORMAN, Okla. -- In its final regular-season games of 2006, the No. 13 University of Oklahoma baseball team (37-16, 15-8 Big 12) travels to Lincoln for a three-game series against the consensus top-11 Nebraska Cornhuskers (38-11, 16-8 Big 12).
Since 1963, OU leads the series with Nebraska, 83-62. Since the formation of the Big 12 Conference, the Sooners are 9-22 against the Huskers with an 0-4 record in the Big 12 Tournament. However, OU has managed at least one victory in each of the past three trips to Lincoln.
This weekend marks OU’s fourth television appearance of the season with Saturday’s game to be aired live on Cox Sports TV (channel 7 in Oklahoma City and 3 in Tulsa) with Greg Sharpe on play-by-play, Kyle Petersen on color, and Paul Myers on the field.
This weekend’s games will also be broadcast live on KOKC 1520 AM with Chuck Kelly calling the play-by-play. Pregame coverage for Friday begins 15 minutes prior to first pitch. Saturday’s and Sunday’s games will join-in-progress after coverage of the Sooners participation in the softball regional.
In addition, live statistics for all games this season can be viewed on SoonerSports.com.
UPDATING THE SOONERS
The Oklahoma Sooners took their licks in a clean sweep of the Bedlam Series presented by the Bank of Oklahoma and Your Oklahoma Ford Dealers.
Oklahoma State defeated the Sooners in all three games for the first time since 2001. Friday’s 4-2 loss at Drillers Stadium in Tulsa was the closest OU came to victory, and the last time in 18 innings that the Sooner offense produced a run as OSU pitchers threw complete-game shutouts in Saturday’s 7-0 and Sunday’s 4-0 game at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.
OU’s Aaron Reza was one of the lone bright spots for the Crimson and Cream, hitting 5-for-10 and driving in one of the two runs scored by the Sooners. Reza also made his first start in left field with spectacular success.
The Sooners and Huskers share the disappointment of being swept in their respective three-game series last weekend. Nebraska looks to hold onto its No. 2 conference standing, while OU (tied for third) needs to take two from the Huskers to ensure third place.
- After being shut out their last 18 innings, the Sooners face the No. 1 pitching staff in the Big 12 in Nebraska. The Huskers own a 3.35 ERA and are holding opposing batters to a .238 average.
- Offensively, Ryan Wehrle leads the NU bats at .370. The sophomore is also tops on the team with 18 doubles. Junior Luke Gossett leads the team with 15 home runs.
- The Huskers like free bases as six of their regular starters have double-digit stolen base attempts.
- Nebraska is coached by Mike Anderson, who is in his fourth season at the Huskers’ helm. Anderson is 178-68 (.724) in that span. He led the Huskers to a Big 12 regular-season co-championship with Baylor in 2005 at 19-8 in the league. NU returned 17 letterwinners from a team that finished 57-15 last year.
IVEY AND ROHLINGER HONORED
Sooners Aaron Ivey and Ryan Rohlinger were named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VI Baseball First Team released Thursday by the College Sports Information Directors of America. Click here for the complete release.
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.
The trio has a combined 21-12 record in 44 starts with a 3.95 ERA.
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.
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 10th consecutive week. For the 11th 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. 15 in Collegiate Baseball and No. 18 in the NCBWA poll. In the USA Today/ESPN poll, OU dropped to the No. 13 slot and Baseball America has the Sooners at No. 14. Refer to page six for a complete week-by-week breakdown of the rankings.
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.
OKLAHOMA/BIG 12 RPI’s
Although not official, Boydsworld.com provides a weekly pseudo RPI system. OU is ranked No. 12 in this week’s ranking released on Wednesday, May 10. The Big 12 is rated the No. 3 power conference in the nation and is right behind the ACC and SEC. Texas (at No. 3) and Nebraska (at No. 6) are the only Big 12 teams ahead of OU.
NATIONAL STATISTICAL RANKINGS
In the latest 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.
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 53 games, OU owns the best fielding percentage in the Big 12 (.984), has committed the fewest errors (33) and is third in double plays turned (49). OU has finished 22 games this season without an error and is 18-4 in those contests.
OU has connected for 160 RBI with two outs on the board in 2006. That accounts for 44 percent of the team’s total of 365 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 (30) has driven in 16 runs with two out and while Aaron Reza (28) has 14 and Freddy Rodriguez (26) has 15.
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 (2.89, fifth-best average in the Big 12) and has walked two or fewer batters on 26 occasions this year (OU is 19-7 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.
CRUCIAL LAST AT-BAT
In addition to the Sooners’ 17 comeback victories this season, six of the games listed above were won on the Sooners last at-bat (Baylor, UTA, A&M and TCU). OU has also won two more games in its final at-bat when the games were tied (March 3 vs. UCR - 10 innings and March 12 vs. Centenary-9 innings). The opposition has also used its last at-bat to find victory against OU (March 17 vs. Arizona State, Memphis, March 24 vs. Baylor and May 6 vs. Kansas State).
SHUTTING OUT THE OPPOSITION
OU is second in the Big 12 in shutouts with five this season (Missouri-6, Nebraska-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).
WHEN A STARTER EXITS
OU is 25-2 this season when the starting pitcher exits the game with the lead. The two defeats both occurred with Daniel McCutchen on the mound (March 17 vs. ASU and March 24 vs. Baylor). In comparison, when OU is trailing and the starter leaves the game, it is 7-6 with wins over Texas State, Notre Dame, Baylor (March 26), UT-Arlington (April 4), TCU (April 11) and Texas A&M (April 15 and 16). There has been three games this season that a starter left and the score was tied and OU is 2-1 those games. Steven Guerra made the start in each of the three game and suffered his first loss of 2006 on April 1 versus Texas. Guerra also left the Texas A&M game in a scoreless tie (with runners on base) and OU won 1-0 in extra innings and he left the Texas Tech game with the score tied at 4-4 and OU won 6-5. Additionally, OU is 1-3 this year when a starter throws a complete game. McCutchen threw in all four of those games and lost to Memphis, Texas and Texas A&M and defeated UC Riverside.
SCORING EARLY AND OFTEN
OU in second in the Big 12 (all games) in runs scored with 389 and it has recorded 62 percent of those tallies in the first six innings this season. The Sooners have crossed the plate 240 times in those innings, including 106 times in the fifth and sixth frames combined. Additionally, OU has scored first in all but 22 of its games this season and is 25-3 when it posts the game’s first run, suffering losses to Wichita State on Feb. 28, Lamar on Feb. 5 and Memphis. Listed on page 14 is a complete breakdown of OU’s runs scored inning-by-inning.
EXTRA BASE HITS
OU has recorded two or more extra base hits in all but 14 games this season (LBSU, Memphis, Indiana State, UC Riverside-GM1, Baylor-GM1, Texas-GM1 and GM2, Texas A&M-GM1 and GM2, Missouri-GM1, Wichita State-GM2, OSU). OU is 26-6 when it records two or more extra base hits in a game. The Sooners’ season high for extra base hits in a game is seven. That feat has been accomplished twice this season. The first came against Arizona State in game two of the series, where OU connected for five doubles and two home runs. Most recently, the Sooners hit four doubles and three home runs in game two against Kansas.
BULLPEN VS. STARTERS
Daniel McCutchen (15), Steven Guerra (15), P.J. Sandoval (14), Ryan Mottern (6), Will Savage (1), John Brownell (1) and Brad Burns (1) have all made at least one start this season and are a combined 24-15 this season with an ERA of 4.42. The Sooners’ bullpen consisting of 12 pitchers is 13-1 with 10 saves and a 5.31 ERA. Additionally, the Sooners’ starters account for 62 percent of the team’s strikeouts (228/371) and 55 percent of the team’s walks (83/155). Finally, teams are hitting .270 against the starters and .298 against the bullpen.
BASEBALL AMERICA NCAA REGIONAL PREDICTIONS
Baseball America released its latest NCAA Regioanl predictions on May 4 OU was listed as one of 16 regional host sites as the No. 1 seed. In the Baseball America midseason report, OU was also listed as a No. 1 seed in a Norman Regional and picked to finish third in the Big 12.
The 37-16 Sooners have proven that they are an offensive team after collecting 10 or more hits in 32 of its 53 games with a 29-3 record on those occasions. (losses came to Lamar, Arizona State and Wichita State-May 2). Additionally, the OU offense has scored double-digit runs on 16 occasions this season and is 16-0 in those games. OU is averaging 7.3 runs a game and 11.2 hits per game in 2006. Nine different regulars are hitting .300 or better (min. 100 at-bats) and eight sluggers have 25 or more RBI, including four with 30 or more (Caufield-39, Kaiser-34, Rohlinger-49 and Smith-55).