NORMAN, Okla. -- The No. 14 (USA Today/ESPN) Oklahoma baseball team (20-7, 2-1 Big 12) will take on No. 11 Texas (19-10, 4-1) this weekend in a three-game set.
The series will open on Friday with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at L. Dale Mitchell Park. The series continues on Saturday at 5:35 p.m. and concludes on Sunday at 1:05 p.m.
The last time the two teams met was during the 2005 season in Austin, Texas. The Longhorns swept the series and currently own a four-game winning streak over the Sooners. Before that streak, the Sooners topped the Longhorns in Norman during the 2004 season. The 3-2 win in 2004 marks the lone victory in the last 14 meetings for OU against Texas.
OU will be making its season debut on television this weekend against Texas. The entire series will be televised live by ESPNU with Mark Neely (play-by-play) and Kyle Peterson (color analyst) calling the game. ESPNU is available through DirecTV on channel 609.
The three games will also be broadcast live on KOKC 1520 AM with Chuck Kelly calling the play-by-play and DeWayne Vaughn providing color analysis. In addition, Saturday and Sunday’s games can be heard on Sirius Satellite Radio (channel 158). Pregame coverage for all Sooner baseball games, begins 15 minutes prior to first pitch. In addition, live stats for all games this season can be viewed on Soonersports.com and the O-Zone (OU’s premium site) will provide a live webcast.
UPDATING THE SOONERS
OU has won 11 of its last 14 games and dropped its last contest on Tuesday to Dallas Baptist, 9-3.
The Patriots outhit OU, 11-9, and used four runs in the second inning and three more in the third frame to outpace the Sooners. Ryan Rohlinger and Chuckie Caufield each connected for two base hits in the Sooners’ third loss at home this season. OU is 11-3 at L. Dale Mitchell Park this season.
The Sooners opened the Big 12 portion of the 2006 schedule last weekend with then-No. 22 Baylor. After dropping the series opener, 6-5, OU rallied to win the final two games of the series (5-2, 11-10).
TICKETS AND PROMOTIONS
Seats to this weekend’s games are available for $10 (reserved), $7 (general admission), $5 (youth) and $3 for groups of ten or more at the OU Athletics Ticket Office (800-456-4668) and at SoonerSports.com. The gates will open an hour and a half before game time. On Friday, the first 200 fans will receive a free OU t-shirt, on Saturday, the first 250 fans in attendance will receive a free OU bucket hat and the first 100 fans on Sunday will receive a free Bob Stoops bobblehead. Coach Stoops will be throwing out the first pitch on Sunday and kids are invited to run around the bases after the game.
The Longhorns have won seven of their last eight games, suffering their only Big 12 loss of 2006 to Texas Tech. The Longhorns are 4-1 in the conference after sweeping Oklahoma State last weekend in Austin. Texas’ current four-game winning streak (ties season high) started with a 3-2 win over then-No. 2 Rice.
-Offensively, freshman outfielder Kyle Russell leads the team in batting average (.375), home runs (5), RBI (28) and slugging percentage (.736). Russell, who is one of four Longhorns with 20 or more RBI, has nine RBI in Big 12 play and has hit safely in five of the last six games with seven hits and 11 RBI.
-Junior right hander Kyle McCulloch will get the start on Friday. McCulloch, who lasted eight innings (six hits, zero runs) in his start against OU in 2005, is 2-4 this season with a 3.62 ERA. The righty has 45 strikeouts and 14 walks in 49 2/3 innings pitched.
-Texas is coached by Auggie Garrido, who is in his 10th season at the Longhorns’ helm and is 410-203-1 (.669) in that span. He led Texas to a 56-16 overall record last year and a third place finish in the Big 12 (16-10). Returning from last year’s National Championship team are 14 letterwinners and four position starters.
-Texas owns a 121-47-2 advantage in the all-time series. The last time OU defeated Texas in a three game series was during the 1998 season. The Sooners swept the Longhorns that year in Norman and claimed a 2-1 series win a year earlier in Austin.
PLAYER TO WATCH: STEVEN GUERRA
OU concludes its current eight-game home stand on Tuesday, April 4 against UT-Arlington. The Sooners defeated UTA earlier in the year at Clay Gould Ballpark, 8-0. Tuesday’s first pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. and can be heard live on KOKC 1520 AM. Following the mid-week contest, OU will play its first Big 12 series on the road against Texas A&M.
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 third consecutive week and improved its standing in all but one poll. For the fifth 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. 23 in Collegiate Baseball and No. 15 in the NCBWA poll. The Sooners’ achieved its highest ranking of the season this week at No. 14 in the USA Today/ESPN poll and is ranked No. 18 by Baseball America. Refer to page six for a complete week-by-week breakdown of the rankings.
OU HISTORY IN THE POLLS
OU’s No. 14 ranking is the highest for the program since Baseball America tabbed the Sooners the No. 13 team in the nation on April 19, 2004. This week’s ranking is the highest in the USA Today/ESPN poll since the 1998 Sooners were ranked No. 10 in the April 13 poll.
OU has connected for 83 RBI with two outs on the board in 2006. That accounts for 43 percent of the team’s total of 193 RBI. The team’s top three RBI individuals, Kevin Smith, Chuckie Caufield and Ryan Rohlinger, each have double-digit RBI with two outs. Smith has 14, while Caufield and Rohlinger each have 10.
The OU pitching staff is averaging just under three walks per game (2.96-fourth best average in the Big 12) and has walked two or fewer batters on 11 occasions this year, 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 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, tossing four games without a walk.
The Sooners have played in 10 one-run games this season and have suffered losses in three of those contests. Two of those defeats have come in the last six games (Arizona State-GM1 and Baylor-GM1). The only other one-run defeat came in the Service Academies Classic against Memphis. The Sooners average 5.2 runs/game in one-run contests, 2.6 below their season average. In 2005, OU played in 12 one-run games and recorded a 9-3 mark.
WHEN A STARTER EXITS
OU is 16-2 this season when the starting pitcher exits the game with the lead. The two exceptions 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 3-4 with wins over Texas State, Notre Dame and Baylor (March 26) and losses to Lamar (Feb. 5), Rice, Wichita State and Dallas Baptist. Additionally, OU is 1-1 this year when a starter throws a complete game. Daniel McCutchen threw both of those games and lost to Memphis before defeating UC Riverside.
SHUTTING OUT THE OPPOSITION
OU is tied with Texas A&M and Kansas State in the Big 12 with four shutouts this season. The Sooners have blanked Western Illinois (14-0), UC Riverside (1-0), Centenary (12-0) and UT-Arlington (8-0) in 2006. The Sooners only recorded two shutouts all of last season and the last time an OU squad posted four shutouts in a season was during the 1994 campaign, which saw OU win its second National Championship. The last time a Sooner team posted five shutouts was in 1992 and the record for most shutouts in a season is 18 (1976 and 1973).
OU AGAINST RANKED COMPETITION
The Sooners have faced six teams this season ranked in one of the four major polls in collegiate baseball (USA Today/Sports Weekly, Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball and NCBWA). OU is 5-4 in those contests and has defeated Baylor-twice (21, 22, 23, 24) Arizona State (13, 16, 11, 13) Long Beach State (20, 19, 15, 11) and Notre Dame (NR, NR, 22, 27). OU has lost Arizona State, Rice (4, 5,4, 2) and Wichita State (NR, NR, 28, 24). The Sooners will also face five more teams ranked in this week’s polls (Texas, Missouri, Rice, Wichita State and Nebraska) later on this season, combining for 11 of their final 29 regular season games. (All rankings listed were taken at the time of competition).
The Sooners ended their second longest home stand of the season of four games (3-1) after the UC Riverside series. OU is 11-3 overall this season at L. Dale Mitchell Park. OU’s longest home stand (eight games) began last weekend against Baylor and concludes with UT-Arlington on Tuesday, April 4.
CONSISTENT POSITION STARTERS
SCORING EARLY AND OFTEN
OU is ranked second in the Big 12 (overall games) in runs scored with 211 and it has recorded 67 percent of those tallies in the second through six innings this season. The Sooners have crossed the plate 142 times in those five innings, including 32 times in the second frame alone. Additionally, OU has scored first in all but eight of its games this season (Texas State, Rice, Indiana State, Centenary-GM3, Arizona State-GM1, Baylor-GM1 and GM3 and Dallas Baptist) and is 16-3 when it posts the game’s first run, suffering losses to Wichita State, Lamar on Feb. 5 and Memphis. Listed on page 13 is a complete breakdown of the Sooners’ runs scored inning-by-inning.
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 27 games, OU owns the best fielding percentage in the Big 12 (.984) and has turned the most double plays (28) in the conference. The Sooners have finished 12 games this season without an error and is 10-2 in those contests (lost to Rice and Memphis).
EXTRA BASE HITS
The Sooners have recorded two or more extra base hits in all but five games this season (LBSU, Memphis, Indiana State, UC Riverside-GM1 and Baylor-GM1). The Sooners’ season high for extra base hits in a game is seven. That feat was accomplished against Arizona State in game two of the series. In that contest, OU connected for five doubles and two home runs.
TRUE ROAD GAMES
Even though OU is 9-4 away from L. Dale Mitchell Park, it is only 4-2 in “true” road games this season. In the UTPA Classic, the Sooners defeated the host Broncs 16-3 and in the Coca Cola Classic, they dropped an 8-2 decision to then-No. 5 Rice. OU topped UT-Arlington and TCU in mid-week games and most recently split two games at ASU. OU is 5-2 in the remaining games, all neutral sites, falling to Memphis and Lamar (Feb. 5).
Although early in the season, the 20-7 Sooners have proven that they are an offensive team after recording 10 or more hits in 17 of its 27 games. Additionally, the Sooner offense has scored double-digit runs on nine occasions this season (UTPA, WIU-twice, Lamar-Feb. 18, TCU, Centenary-twice, ASU-March 18 and Baylor-March 26). OU is averaging 7.8 runs a game and 11 hits per game in 2006. Additionally, six different Sooners are hitting .300 or better (min. 55 at-bats) and 10 sluggers have 12 or more RBI, including three with 20 or more (Caufield-20, Rohlinger-23 and Smith-25).
GOING THE DISTANCE
The Sooners’ offense held the spotlight early in the season, but the starting rotation has been even more impressive. Seniors Daniel McCutchen and Steven Guerra have started eight games apiece so far in 2006 and have made each start last five or more innings in each of those starts. Additionally, Guerra and McCutchen have each gone six-plus innings six times. OU’s third starter, P.J. Sandoval, has lasted five-plus in all but two starts (Feb. 5 vs. Lamar and March 26 vs. Baylor). Sandoval has two starts over six innings. In three of the Sooners’ mid-week games this season, Ryan Mottern lasted three innings in his first start and five frames in each of the following starts (TCU and UTA).
BULLPEN VS. STARTERS
Daniel McCutchen, Steven Guerra, P.J. Sandoval, Ryan Mottern and Will Savage have all made at least one start this season and are a combined 17-6 this season with an ERA of 4.07. The Sooners’ bullpen consisting of 11 pitchers is 3-1 with six saves and a 5.87 ERA. Additionally, the Sooners’ starters account for 62 percent of the team’s strikeouts (122/196) and 52 percent of the team’s walks (42/80). Finally, teams are hitting .262 against the starters and .293 against the bullpen.
The 2006 Sooners are proving to be a team that has options on offense. As the team leads the Big 12 in RBI (193) and ranks second in runs scored (211) and hits (296) and fourth in batting average (.321) this SMALL BALL Cont.
season, it has also shown that productive outs are as important as power. OU has shown its ability to be successful as a “small-ball” lineup that can bunt, run and advance runners. In addition to the power numbers listed above, the Sooners are second in the Big 12 in sacrifices (35-for-38) and they have executed five squeeze bunts out of six, resulting in five runs scored from third base.
In the Big 12 Coaches’ preseason poll, the Oklahoma Sooners were picked to finish fifth in the league, the highest prediction since being tabbed third in 2003. In addition, Collegiate Baseball picked OU to finish fifth and Baseball America has the Sooners finishing seventh in the conference.
In addition to the preseason rankings within the Big 12, Baseball America tabbed Ryan Rohlinger as an All-Big 12 pick and Daniel McCutchen as one of the conference’s top 2006 prospects and Brad Burns was picked for the 2007 draft.
Finally, Collegiate Baseball named McCutchen, Rohlinger, Kody Kaiser and Will Savage as “players to watch” within the Big 12.
SOONERSPORTS.COM SPECIAL FEATURE
Click here for an article brought to SoonerSports.com from Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, a national baseball publication that has been covering the sport since 1958. The feature story was printed last month in the Jan. 6 issue and spotlights the amazing story of how OU sophomore Kody Kaiser and his uncle, OU head coach Sunny Golloway, were brought together at the University of Oklahoma.
OU BASEBALL ON RADIO AND TV
The University of Oklahoma baseball team released its 2006 radio and internet broadcast schedule on Jan. 31. The entire 56-game schedule will be broadcast live either on the radio by KOKC (1520 AM) or on the internet via Yahoo.
Ten of the games will be carried on the Sooners Sports’ Network, which enables fans to listen to OU baseball on the radio state-wide. For a list of affiliates in Oklahoma, visit the Sooner baseball page on SoonerSports.com.
In addition, the Sooners will also be seen live on television for five games this season. The coverage begins with the Texas series on March 31-April 2. That three-game set against the defending national champs will be aired on ESPNU from L. Dale Mitchell Park in Norman. OU can also be seen live on Fox Sports Net for its April 15 game against Missouri. The Bedlam finale will also be televised by the Sooner Sports Network.
Below is a look at the games that can be seen on ESPNU, FSN and SSN in addition to the 10 network radio broadcast games.
Date Opponent Time Media Friday, March 31 Texas 7 p.m. ESPNU Saturday, April 1 Texas 5:30 p.m. ESPNU Sunday, April 2 Texas 1 p.m. ESPNU/KOKC (network) at Texas A&M 1 p.m. KOKC (network) Saturday, April 15 at Missouri 3 p.m. Fox Sports Network Sunday, April 16 at Missouri 1 p.m. KOKC (network) Sunday, April 23 at Texas Tech 1 p.m. KOKC (network) Sunday, April 30 at Kansas 1 p.m. KOKC (network) Sunday, May 7 Kansas St. 1 p.m. KOKC (network) Friday, May 12 vs. OSU# 7:30 p.m. KOKC (network) Saturday, May 13 vs. OSU* 8 p.m. KOKC (network) Sunday, May 14 vs. OSU* 5 p.m. SSN TV/KOKC (network) Sunday, May 21 at Nebraska 1:05 p.m. KOKC (network)
Sunday, April 9
Friday, March 31
Saturday, April 1
Sunday, April 2
at Texas A&M
Saturday, April 15
Fox Sports Network
Sunday, April 16
Sunday, April 23
at Texas Tech
Sunday, April 30
Sunday, May 7
Friday, May 12
Saturday, May 13
Sunday, May 14
SSN TV/KOKC (network)
Sunday, May 21
# game to be played at Drillers Stadium in Tulsa, Okla.
* games to be played at the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City
SAVAGE NAMED TO STOPPER OF THE YEAR WATCH LIST
Senior pitcher Will Savage was named to the watch list for the 2006 National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Stopper of the Year award presented to the nation’s top closer. The list is comprised of 30 closers in Division I baseball, 21 of those players ranked in the top 50 in the nation among saves and nine others were at-large nominations.
Savage became OU’s go-to guy in the bullpen in 2005. Including the postseason, Savage appeared in 18 of OU’s last 19 games. After he headed to the bullpen on April 16, Savage made 22 appearances, spanning 46 innings, to close out his year. In those innings of work, he posted a 2.35 ERA, recorded a 6-1 mark, made six saves, allowed 12 earned runs on 54 hits and seven walks while striking out 19 batters.
FIRST-YEAR HEAD COACHES
Sunny Golloway, OU’s eighth coach in program history, became the fourth consecutive Sooner coach to win his first season opener. Previous skippers Larry Cochell, Stan Meek and Enos Seymore were all victorious in their debuts. Below is a look at how the previous seven coaches in OU history have fared in their first year:
Year Coach, Record (winning %)
1906 Bennie Owen, 10-6 (.625)
1923 Bill Owen, 12-4 (.750)
1927 Lawrence Haskell, 12-5 (.706)
1942 Jack Baer, 17-7 (.708)
1968 Enos Seymore, 13-14 (.481)
1990 Stan Meek, 31-26 (.544)
1991 Larry Cochell, 40-23 (.635)
2005 Sunny Golloway, 20-7 (.740)
OU PICKED FIFTH IN PRESEASON BIG 12 POLL
The Oklahoma baseball team was picked fifth in the Big 12 Conference Coaches’ preseason poll as released by the league office. OU received 44 points in the Big 12 poll, ten points shy of fourth place Baylor.
This year’s poll marks the highest preseason prediction within the conference in the last three seasons, after being picked third prior to the 2003 season.
Texas once again topped the list for the fourth straight year with 79 points, including eight first-place votes. Nebraska (70) and Missouri (66) followed as the only other teams to receive a first-place vote with one each. The poll was based on a vote by each of the 10 conference head coaches who were not allowed to cast a vote for their own team in the process. Following OU was Oklahoma State (41) at No. 6, Texas A&M (36) at No. 7, Texas Tech and Kansas (24) tied at No. 8 and Kansas State (11) rounded out the list at No. 10.
2006 Big 12 Conference Coaches' Preseason Poll
GUERRA NAMED TO BROOKS WALLACE LIST
Senior hurler Steven Guerra was named to the watch list for the 2006 Brooks Wallace Award, presented annually to the national college baseball player of the year.
In his first season as a Sooner, Guerra appeared in 16 games, starting a team-high 15 and lasted at least five innings in 12 of those starts. The Paso Robeles, Calif., native complied a 5-6 record over 85.2 innings tossed (second most on the team) in 2005 and was tied for third on the team in strikeouts (53).
The Wallace Watch will be trimmed to 12 semi-finalists by late May.Then the selection committee will narrow the list to three finalists following the NCAA Super Regionals at a press conference in Omaha
The Sooners signed 14 athletes for the 2007 season last November. Below is a brief look at the incoming class.
-Aaron Baker- Denton, Texas (Denton HS)
C - 6-3 - 220 - L/R
-Very physical athlete, excellent power from left side of the plate
-Vincent Biancamano - Glendale, Ariz. (Chandler Gilbert C.C.)
IF - 6-0 - 190 - R/R
-Fits the mold of a very offensive middle infielder
-Tanner Chitwood - Sulphur, Okla. (Sulphur HS)
LHP - 6-3 - 220 - L/L
-Tall, physical power with a left-handed arm
-Andrew Doyle - Rock Island, Ill. (Alleman High School)
RHP - 6-3 - 205 - R/R
-Very athletic, physical, potential weekend starter
-Mike Gosse - Pitt Meadows, B.C. Canada (New Mexico J.C.)
IF - 5-9 - 170 - L/R
-Outstanding hitter that will bat for high average
-Bryant Hernandez - Oxnard, Calif. (St. Bonaventure HS)
IF - 5-9 - 161 - R/R
-Stellar defensive infielder, hits for average
-Chad Lee - Oklahoma City (Barton County Community College)
RHP - 6-3 - 190 - R/R
-Power pitcher that has made great strides in last year
-Garrett Richards- Edmond, Okla. (Edmond Memorial)
RHP - 6-3 - 185 - R/R
-Great control pitcher with high ceiling
-Tyson Seng - Enid, Okla. (Enid HS)
IF/RHP - 6-0 - 165 - R/R
-Exceptional all-around athlete, will compete with starters
-Devin Shepherd - Agoura Hills, Calif. (Oxnard HS)
OF - 6-4 - 230 - R/R
-Possibly best high school outfielder in the country, five-tool player
-Brandon Thomson - Gilbert, Ariz. (Chandler Gilbert C.C.)
LHP - 5-11 - 190 - L/L
-Left-handed arm with power, will likely be drafted high in June
-Danny Grande - Corpus Christi, Texas (Moody High School)
RHP - 6-0 - 170 - R/R
-Hard throwing right-hander, has a lot of upside-
-Zach Hedges - Bentonville, Ark. (Bentonville High School)
IF - 6-2 - 190 - R/R
-Very athletic corner infielder, power from right side of the plate
-John “Red” Patterson - Frisco, Texas (Grayson County College)
RHP - 6-3 - 200 - R/R
-Very consistent in the strike zone, throws 88-90