March 8, 2001
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A CLOSER LOOK AT OKLAHOMA
Oklahoma Returns To Big 12 Conference Action
Oklahoma (7-11) returns to Big 12 Conference play this weekend as it hosts Texas A&M (10-8) for a three-game set at L. Dale Mitchell Park. The series begins Friday at 3 p.m., continues on Saturday at 2 p.m. and concludes on Sunday at 1 p.m.
The series will be only the second league series of the year for both teams. The Sooners stand at a perfect 3-0 in the Big 12 after sweeping Kansas two weeks ago, while the Aggies dropped two of three to Baylor to stand at 1-2.
The featured promotion over the weekend will be OU baseball commemorative lapel pins to be given away to the first 500 fans through the gate on Saturday.
Last Time Out
Four Creighton hurlers held Oklahoma to only six hits as the Bluejays won their second game in as many days against OU, 9-3, Wednesday afternoon at L. Dale Mitchell Park in Norman. The Sooners were also hindered by stranding 11 runners on base, including six in scoring position, for the game. Freshman starting pitcher Buddy Blair (0-1), who pitched 4.1 innings and surrendered three hits and two earned runs, took the loss for OU.
It was only a 3-0 ballgame in favor of Creighton through six innings until the Bluejays cushioned their lead in the top of the seventh frame. Creighton scored three runs, two unearned courteousy of an Oklahoma error, off of reliever Austin Mix to extend their lead to 6-0.
OU responded at the bottom of the seventh inning with two runs to mount a brief comeback. With two outs in the inning, senior third baseman Jason Bartlett (0-for-2) walked and senior first baseman Greg Dobbs (1-for-4) followed with a single with two outs. Junior designated hitter Charlie Frasier (1-for-4) then doubled both baserunners in to cut the Bluejays' lead to 6-2.
Creighton recorded three more runs in the top of the ninth inning to put the game out of reach.
At The Plate
As a team, Oklahoma is batting .300 with 18 home runs and 112 RBIs ... In Big 12 Conference play, OU is hitting at a .347 clip with four home runs and 24 RBIs ... The Sooners' batting average continued to rise for the second-consecutive week ... Oklahoma batted .313 last week against Northwestern and Creighton ... The Sooners outscored and outhit the 'Cats 25-12 and 33-27, respectively ... Oklahoma was outscored and outhit during the Creighton series, 23-15 and 33-23, respectively ... The 17-run output on Sunday against Northwestern was the most runs scored by an OU team since the 1999 season ... Junior designated hitter Charlie Frasier hit his team-leading sixth home run last weekend ... Frasier has hit at least one home run in four out of the last five weekends ... On the season, Oklahoma has produced 33 RBIs with two outs in an inning ... Frasier leads all Sooners in the category with six ... Leftfielder Bryan King laced two more doubles last weekend to increase his season total to seven ... The total leads the team and also ranks among the best in the Big 12 ... For the second-consecutive week, senior first baseman Greg Dobbs was the team's leading hitter ... Dobbs batted .455 (10-for-22) with six runs scored and six RBIs, including three multi-hit efforts.
On The Mound
The Sooner pitching staff is currently sporting a 5.46 ERA and has allowed 96 earned runs in 158.1 innings pitched ... Last week, the staff registered a 5.60 ERA and gave up 28 earned runs in 45 innings pitched ... Eight different pitchers have received starting assignments ... Sophomore righty Austin Mix leads all hurlers with 32 strikeouts ... Evan Greusel and Rocky Cherry's victories last weekend were the first wins credited to an Oklahoma starting pitcher this season ... Greusel's 8.2 innings pitched in Saturday's game was the longest outing for a Sooner starter this season.
Hitting His Stride
After hitting .263 (10-for-38) through the first two weeks of the season, senior first baseman Greg Dobbs has begun to live up to the preseason expectations. Over the last two weeks, Dobbs is the hottest hitter on the club batting at a .513 (20-for-39) clip with 10 runs scored and 10 RBIs. During the nine game stretch, Dobbs has hit safely in eight games, including seven multi-hit performances. Of the seven multi-hit efforts, five were also multi-RBI performances.
The Moreno Valley, Calif., native, currently ranks in the top five of every major team offensive category (except triples), including leading the team in batting average (.390), hits (30) and is tied for first in RBIs with 19.
Dobbs, a team tri-captain, came to Oklahoma from Long Beach State where in 1999 he earned second team All-Big West Conference honors after batting .376 and belting 10 home runs. Dobbs was tabbed as a "Top Newcomer" by Baseball America and a "Player To Watch" by Collegiate Baseball in their college baseball preview issues.
Making The Most Of An Opportunity
Since entering the starting lineup at second base two weeks ago, Matt Fisher has been a productive performer for the Sooners offensively and defensively. In his nine starts, the freshman has hit safely in six games and reached base in all but one contest. Also during that time, Fisher has flashed a flawless glove going errorless in 61 chances.
Fisher had a career day on Tuesday versus Creighton when he belted his first career home run, a grandslam, and also registered his first multi-hit and multi-RBI performances.
Prior to receiving the starting nod, Fisher was hitless in three pinch hitting appearances. However, over the last two weeks, the Chatsworth, Calif., native has steadily watched his average climb over the .200 mark. Four of Fisher's seven hits on the season are for extra bases, including three doubles.
* Oklahoma returns to Big 12 Conference play this weekend when they host Texas A&M for a three-game set. OU will then continue facing conference competition over the next seven-consecutive weekends.
* OU has used a different starting rotation for each weekend series.
* Last week's 4-0 loss to Northwestern marked the second time this season that the Sooners have been shutout. The last time OU was shutout more than once in a season was in 1993 when Oklahoma was held scoreless three times.
* The 2-1 series win over Northwestern helped Oklahoma capture its second-straight weekend series.
* OU's defense posted two errorless performances last week.
* The Sooner offense recorded its best offensive output of the season with 17 runs in Sunday's 17-6 OU victory.
* The Sooner offense recorded three-straight double digit-hit games last week. The team's highest hit production of the three games was an 18-hit barrage against Northwestern on Sunday.
* All nine players in the Sooners' regular starting lineup have cranked home runs this year.
AT THE PLATE: TEXAS A&M
Scouting The Aggies
Texas A&M heads into Norman on a hot streak. The Aggies have won seven of their last eight games, after losing six straight, and captured the Continental Express Classic title last weekend. TAMU opened Big 12 Conference play two weeks ago against Baylor and only managed one win out of the three-game series.
For the season, the Aggie bats are hitting at a .280 clip with nine home runs and 94 runs scored. During the Aggies' first conference series versus Baylor, Texas A&M batted .271 (29-for-107) with 14 runs scored and 13 RBIs. The Aggies' leading hitter is junior infielder Ty Garner. Garner is batting .326 (15-for-46) with 12 runs scored and six RBIs.
A&M pitchers are sporting a combined 4.32 ERA and have allowed 150 hits in 152 innings pitched. However, the pitching staff has also struck out 132 batters over that time. In conference action, the staff's ERA inflates to 4.97. The Aggies' top hurler is freshman righthander Matt Farnum who is 2-1 with a 1.71 ERA through four appearances, including two starts.
More On The Aggies
*On Tuesday, A&M Head Coach Mark Johnson became the 39th coach in Division I baseball history to eclipse the 700-win mark with a 2-1 victory over Penn State.
*Aggie hurlers have struck out 49 batters in their last 46 innings pitched at a rate of 1.07 per inning.
*Sophomore outfielder Eric Reed headlined a group of five Aggies that were recently named to the Continental Express Classic, held in College Station, Texas, this week. Reed garnered Most Valuable Player honors, while teammates Ty Garner, Tim Petru, Matt Farnum and Todd Deininger were also honored as all-tournament selections.
*In Matt Farnum's last 10.2 innings pitched, the freshman pitcher has allowed only four hits, walked three and struck out 15 batters. For the season, Farnum has fanned 26 batters in 21.0 innings of work.
*Senior pitcher/infielder Chris Russ and junior infielder Ty Garner were selected as team co-captains prior to the start of the season.