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No. 13 OU Hosts No. 1 Rice Tuesday
April 17, 2006

NORMAN, Okla. -- The No. 13 Oklahoma baseball team (28-10, 8-4 Big 12) will look for its seventh consecutive victory (ninth in the last 10) this Tuesday against No. 1 Rice (32-8, 11-1 Conference USA).  First pitch at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Tuesday, April 18 is scheduled for 7 p.m. 

OU and Rice have only met on five prior occasions with OU holding a 3-2 advantage.  Most recently, the Owls topped the Sooners 8-2 in the Coca-Cola Classic earlier this season in Houston.  The last time they played each other in Norman was during the 1991 season.

"I think Tuesday's game has a chance to be a great midweek match-up, with two highly ranked teams that are projected to be seeded high in the postseason," said OU head coach Sunny Golloway.  "I am excited for not only our players and the program, but for our fans to have top-ranked Rice coming to L. Dale Mitchell Park.  I hope they fill the ballpark and give us a Super Regional type atmosphere."

Game Notes (PDF) | Big 12 Notes | Schedule | Live Stats 

MEDIA EXPOSURE
Tuesday’s games will be broadcast live on KOKC 1520 AM with Chuck Kelly calling the play-by-play and DeWayne Vaughn providing the color analysis.  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. Tuesday’s games can also be seen live via a web cast on the O-Zone.

  Watch Live on the O-Zone at 7 p.m. | More Information

TICKETS AND PROMOTIONS
Seats to Tuesday’s game 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.    The game will mark the final $.50 hot dog and coke night of the season at the ballpark (while supplies last).

UPDATING THE SOONERS
The Oklahoma baseball team finished off an undefeated week with four straight wins to extend its current winning streak to six games. 

OU started off the week with a ninth-inning victory over TCU on Tuesday at home.  Trailing 11-10 heading into its final at-bat, OU received a little help from TCU first baseman Chad Huffman, as he kicked a potential game-ending ground ball off of Russell Raley’s bat into foul territory and allowed two Sooners to cross the plate for the 12-11 victory.
 
After a 6-4 win on Friday for Daniel McCutchen (his first since March 10) over Missouri in the series opener, the ninth-inning magic returned to L. Dale Mitchell Park on Saturday, as OU used six runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to top Missouri, 8-6.  On Sunday in the series finale, OU again trailed heading into its last at-bat and scored three runs in the ninth to complete the sweep of the Tigers.  Freshman Nate Hammons earned his first and second career victories on Saturday and Sunday, after pitching the final two outs in both games.

SCOUTING RICE
Since losing back-to-back games on March 22 (Texas 3-2) and March 24 (East Carolina 4-3), the Owls have won 14 consecutive games.  Included in that streak is a three-game sweep of then-No. 11 Tulane, mid-week wins over Texas A&M and Baylor, and conference sweeps against Alabama Birmingham and most recently Memphis.   

Five of the Owls’ defeats this season have come against opponents they share with Oklahoma.  Rice lost to Texas on three separate occasions this year and dropped single games to Long Beach State and Arizona State.  Additionally, Rice is 11-2 this year on the road, suffering losses to Texas and Sam Houston State.

-Offensively,  sophomore Brian Friday is the Owls’ top hitter with a .379 clip.  Junior Josh Rodriguez leads the team with 40 RBI, while freshman Aaron Luna’s seven home runs is a team best.
4Sophomore Will McDaniel is expected get the starting nod on the mound for the Owls on Tuesday.  The right-hander is 4-0 this season with a 2.45 ERA.   In 33 innings pitched, he has walked nine batter opposite 18 strikeouts.

-Rice is coached by Wayne Graham, who is in his 15th season at the helm with a 659-265 (.713) record.   In 25 overall seasons as a head coach, Graham is 1,234-378 (.766).  The Owls return 20 letterwinners and 11 position starters from a 2005 team that finished first in Conference USA (45-19 overall, 21-9) and went 1-2 in the New Orleans Regional.  

-OU leads the all-time series with Rice, 3-2 after Rice won the last meeting this season at Rice, 8-2.  The two split a two-game series at Rice on March 14 and 15 in the 1992 season.    OU won the opener, 10-3, and dropped game two 4-3.  In 1991 at L. Dale Mitchell Park, OU swept a two-game set on March 2 and 3 (4-2, 4-3). 

PLAYER TO WATCH:  RYAN ROHLINGER

Ryan Rohlinger
The Sooners’ third baseman hit .529 (9-for-17) in four games last week with five RBI.  Rohlinger has hit safely in the last five games with 11 base knocks and seven RBI.  He provided the game-winning RBI in the series finale against Missouri last weekend.

WHO’S NEXT
OU will hit the road for its next seven games, beginning with a three-game series at Texas Tech this weekend.  That Big 12 series will be followed up with a three-game set at Kansas and the seven games away from home will end with a mid-week game at Wichita State on May 2.  The seven games, as well as the remainder of 2006 schedule, can be heard live on KOKC 1520 AM.

TOP 25
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 sixth consecutive week, gaining ground in all four polls.  For the eighth 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. 16 in the NCBWA poll.  In the USA Today/ESPN poll, OU moved up three spots to No. 13 and Baseball America has the Sooners at No. 15.  The last time OU was ranked as high as No. 13 was during the 2004 season.  In the Baseball America poll released on April 19 of that year, OU was also the 13th ranked team in the nation.

OKLAHOMA/BIG 12 RPI’s
Although not official, Boydsworld.com provides a weekly pseudo RPI system.  OU is ranked No. 22 in last week’s ranking released on Thursday, April 13.  The Big 12 is rated the No. 3 power conference in the nation and is right behind the SEC and ACC.  Nebraska comes in at No. 5 and Texas is the only other Big 12 team ahead of OU at No. 11.

BASEBALL AMERICA MID-SEASON REPORT
Baseball America released its mid-season report in the beginning of April complete with predictions for NCAA Regional sites.  OU, predicted to finish third in the Big 12 behind Texas and Nebraska, was listed as one of 16 regional host sites as the No. 1 seed.

NATIONAL STATISTICAL RANKINGS
The NCAA released the first NCAA statistical rankings on Tuesday, April 11 and Oklahoma was listed as the third best team in terms of fielding percentage (.981).  In addition, OU was tied for 32nd in terms of winning percentage.  Individually, Steven Guerra was tied for second in wins (8), Will Savage tied for 29th in saves (6) and Kody Kaiser tied for 34 in walks/game (0.81).

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 38 games, OU owns the best fielding percentage in the Big 12 (.983), has committed the fewest errors (25) and has turned the third-most double plays (32).  OU has finished 17 games this season without an error and is 15-2 in those contests (Rice and Memphis).

BIG 12 STANDINGS
Below is a look at the Big 12 standings after action on Sunday, April 16:

Team Big 12 Overall
Texas 12-2 27-12
Nebraska 10-2 28-5
OKLAHOMA  8-4 28-10 
Kansas 7-8 25-15
Baylor 7-8 22-15
Texas Tech 6-7-1 25-14-1
Oklahoma State 5-7 21-12
Missouri 6-9 16-18
Kansas State 3-8-1 23-9-1
Texas A&M 3-12 19-20

CRUCIAL LAST AT-BAT
In addition to the Sooners’ 12 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 and March 24 vs. Baylor).

OU AGAINST RANKED COMPETITION
The Sooners have faced seven 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 6-6 in those contests with wins over Texas (11, 10, 10, 13), 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, 28).  OU has lost Texas-twice, Arizona State, Rice (4, 5,4, 2) and Wichita State (NR, NR, 28, 24).  The Sooners will also face three more teams ranked in this week’s polls (Rice, Wichita State and Nebraska) later on this season, combining for five of their final 17 regular season games.  (All rankings listed were taken at the time of competition).

TWO OUT OF THREE AIN'T BAD
In all but one of the first 11 weekends of the 2006 season, OU has come out with at least two wins, including three sweeps (Western Illinois, UC Riverside and Centenary).  The weekend against Texas marked the first below .500 record for OU in a weekend series.  OU lost the first two games but rallied to defeat Texas 12-7 in the series finale.  In addition, the series loss to Texas was the first Big 12 series defeat under head coach Sunny Golloway.  OU, led by Golloway in 2005, defeated Kansas St., Oklahoma St. and Texas Tech in three-game series and also topped Texas A&M, Baylor and Missouri this season.

TWO-OUT RBI
OU has connected for 117 RBI with two outs on the board in 2006.  That accounts for 47 percent of the team’s total of 251 RBI.  The team’s top two RBI individuals, Kevin Smith (43) and Ryan Rohlinger (35), each have double-digit RBI with two outs with 24 and 19, respectively.  In addition,  Kody Kaiser (22) has driven in 11 runs with two out and Aaron Reza (21) and Freddy Rodriguez (18) have both driven in 10 runs with two outs.

LIMITING WALKS
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 (2.86, fourth-best average in the Big 12) and has walked two or fewer batters on 18 occasions this year (OU is 15-3 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.

ONE-RUN GAMES
The Sooners have played in 14 one-run games this season and have suffered losses in three of those contests.   Two of those defeats occurred in back-to-back weekends (Arizona State-GM1 and Baylor-GM1).  The only other one-run defeat came in the Service Academies Classic against Memphis.   In 2005, OU played in 12 one-run games and recorded a 9-3 mark.

SHUTTING OUT THE OPPOSITION
OU leads the Big 12 with five shutouts this season.  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).

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 remaining games that can be seen on television, in addition to the 10 network radio broadcast games.

Date

Opponent

Time

Media

Saturday, April 22

at Texas Tech

6:30 p.m.

Cox channel 7 (OKC)

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 (ne

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