Road to Omaha Continues Saturday

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
JUNE 04, 2006

NORMAN, Okla. -- The Oklahoma baseball team (44-20, 17-10 Big 12) is riding a four-game winning streak in the 2006 NCAA Tournament and is coming of its first regional championship since 1995.  No. 10 OU will make its debut in the NCAA Super Regional this weekend against No. 1 Rice in Houston, Texas at Reckling Park. 

The best-of-three series will begin with Saturday’s first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m.  Game two is scheduled for noon on Sunday and the “if necessary” game on Monday is slated for a noon start.

The three-game set will be televised by the ESPN Family and broken up into regional coverage.  Saturday’s contest is set to be aired live on ESPN2 and the remaining two games are scheduled to appear live on ESPN.  The on-air talent for the series includes Dave Barnett (play-by-play) and Keith Moreland (analyst).

OU Notes (PDF) | NCAA Super Regional Central

All of the Super Regional games will be broadcast live on KOKC 1520 AM with Chuck Kelly calling the play-by-play.  Pre-game coverage begins 15 minutes prior to first pitch.  In addition, live statistics for all of the games in the NCAA Tournament can be viewed on

After dropping game one of the 2006 NCAA Norman Regional against the fourth-seeded TCU Horned Frogs in heartbreaking fashion on Friday, the Sooners rallied to win four consecutive games en route to its first regional title since 1995 and first ever berth into the NCAA Super Regional round of play (originated in 1999).  On Friday against TCU, OU held a 5-3 lead going into the ninth frame, but OU ace Daniel McCutchen and the Sooner defense could not hold the Horned Frogs’ offense at bay, allowing three runs in the final frame leading to a 6-5 defeat. 

The Sooners’ offense exploded in the next four games, scoring 42 runs off 55 hits.  OU topped No. 2 seeded Houston on Saturday, 8-6, to avoid elimination and did the same against TCU, 15-6, in Sunday’s first game and against Wichita State, 12-7, in the second game later that night.  On Monday in the final game of the regional, OU topped WSU for the second straight game, 7-6, despite a late rally from the Shockers.  McCutchen made his second appearance of the tournament, this time out of the bullpen, to record five strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings pitched for his ninth victory of the season.

The Owls, the nation’s top-ranked team, have won 35 of their last 37 games.  They are currently riding a 13-game winning streak and most recently defeated Prairie View A&M, 6-5, and Baylor twice (7-2 and 7-4) to claim the 2006 Houston Regional title.

The Owls were also riding a long winning streak the last time they faced the Sooners, having won 14 consecutive games before losing in Norman on April 18.   Rice is 21-1 since it suffered a 15-3 defeat at L. Dale Mitchell Park.  The only loss in that span is a 3-0 decision to then-No. 14 Houston on May 12. 

-Offensively,  sophomore Brian Friday is the Owls’ top hitter with a .377 clip.  Sophomore Joe Savery leads the team with 59 RBI and he is hitting .336 with seven homers. Freshman Aaron Luna’s 14 home runs is a team best and he is hitting.
4Senior Eddie Degerman, a right-hander, is expected to get the starting nod on Saturday.  Degerman (12-1, 1.67 ERA) has 150 strikeouts and 45 walks in 113 innings this year.   Joe Savery, the Owls’ No. 2 starter for most of the season, is the probable Sunday starter.  Savery is 5-1 with 2.76 ERA this year and has struck out 62 and walked 24 in 62 innings.

-Rice is coached by Wayne Graham, who is in his 15th season at the helm with a 670-267 (.715) record.   In 25 overall seasons as a head coach, Graham is 1,245-380 (.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, 4-2, after splitting two regular season meetings this year.  On Feb. 17 at the Coca-Cola Classic, then- No. 5 Rice defeated and un-ranked OU squad at Reckling Park.  In the rematch on April 18, the No. 13 Sooners topped the No. 1 Owls, 15-3 at L. Dale Mitchell Park.  Oklahoma and Rice have never met during postseason play. 

- OU is in the middle of its third consecutive appearance in the NCAA   Tournament and 30th overall in program history. 

- The Sooners are 65-56 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.

- The Sooners are making their first appearance in the NCAA Super   Regional round this weekend.   The format was originated in 1999. 

- Last weekend, OU won its fifth regional title (1976, 1992, 1994 and     1995).   The Sooners also advanced to the College World Series in   1951, 1972, 1973, 1974 and 1975 when the tournament was played   in a district format.

- Oklahoma last won the National Championship in 1994 and
 captured its first title in 1951.  OU is one of 12 schools to win    multiple national titles in Division I baseball.

After hitting eight home runs in the 2005 Oxford Regional, OU continued that power surge in the 2006 Norman Regional with 10 round-trippers.  The Sooners also hit .3 40 as a team (.418 with two outs) and connected for 10 or more hits in all but the first game, a 6-5 loss.  In addition, OU averaged 9.4 runs/game and 12.8 hits/game.

Before this weekend, the most members on an all-regional team held by OU was five, achieved in the 1994 and 1995 seasons.  In 2006, the Sooners dominated the all-regional team, featuring seven players on the 11-member team.  Ryan Rohlinger (DH) and Chuckie Caufield (OF) made the squad for the second consecutive year.  Rohlinger was named the 2006 most valuable player (third in OU history - Ryan Minor, 1995 and Darvin Traylor, 1994) after hitting .545 with two homers, two doubles and 10 RBI.  Caufield also hit two homers and connected for six RBI and a .287 clip. 

The following were also named to the team:
Joseph Hughes (OF) - .500 BA, two doubles, six RBI, 1.000 FLD %
Steven Guerra (RHP) - 3.68 ERA, 1-0, eight strikeouts
Russell Raley (2B) - .360 BA, three RBI, 1.000 FLD %
Aaron Reza (SS) - .231 BA, double,  RBI, 1.000 FLD %
Kevin Smith (1B) - .350 BA, double, two homers, six RBI, 1.000 FLD %

For just the third time in program history, the University of Oklahoma was awarded to host an NCAA Regional in Norman last weekend.  The Sooners previously hosted in 1975 and 1977 before L. Dale Mitchell Park was built in 1982.  OU has also hosted on three other occasions in Oklahoma City (last time was in 2004).  The Sooners made their first appearance as the No. 1 seed in an NCAA Regional last weekend, since the 1994 season, the last time OU won the College World Series.

For the fourth time in program history, OU placed eight or more members on the Big 12 teams (1998, 2004 and 2005).   Oklahoma seniors Chuckie Caufield (OF), Steven Guerra (SP), Daniel McCutchen (SP), Ryan Rohlinger (3B), Russell Raley (2B) and Kevin Smith (1B) and sophomore Aaron Reza (utility) were named to the All-Big 12 Second Team, while sophomore Jackson Williams (C) received honorable mention.  McCutchen, Rohlinger and Raley were selections on the coaches’ team for the past two years while Smith was an honorable mention last season. Caufield, Guerra, Reza and Williams made their first appearances on the conference’s honoree list. 

With four wins over the weekend, the 2006 Sooners (44-20) have recorded the most wins in a season (regular and postseason combined) since the 1994 National Championship team finished the year at 50-17.

OU closed out the regular season with Nebraska and recorded its 39th of the year, which marked the most in program history since the 1989 team won 42 games in the regular season.  The 2006 regular season win total also tied the 39 won by the 1994 team.

Current Sooners Ryan Rohlinger and Daniel McCutchen were selected on the first day of the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft.  Rohlinger was taken 176th overall and was selected in the sixth round by the San Francisco Giants.  McCutchen was selected in the 13th round (404 overall) by the New York Yankees.  In addition, three 2007 signees were selected on day one:  Right-handed pitcher Chad Lee (4th round, 128 overall-Oakland Athletics), outfielder Devin Sheperd (5th round, 156 overall-Minnesota Twins) and right-handed pitcher Teddy Hubbard (12th round, 341 overall-Tampa Bay Devil Rays).

On day two, current Sooners Russell Raley (21st round, 644 overall - New York Yankees), Kody Kaiser (26th round, 773 overall-LAA Dodgers), Will Savage (26th round, 787 overall-Philadelphia Phillies), John Brownell (27th round, 817 overall-Philadelphia Phillies), Chuckie Caufield (39th round, 1,172 overall-Milwaukee Brewers), Kevin Smith (39th round, 1,184 overall-New York Yankees) and Ryan Mottern (49th round, 1,469 overall-Cleveland Indians) were all drafted.

In addition, four signees were taken on day two: left-handed pitcher Brandon Thomson (23rd round, 704 overall-New York Yankees), catcher Aaron Baker (37th round, 1,116 overall-Minnesota Twins), right-handed pitcher Andrew Doyle (39th round, 1,171 overall-Washington Nationals) and left-handed pitcher Tanner Chitwood (40th round, 1,214 overall-New York Yankees).

Head coach Sunny Golloway, who is in his first full year as the head coach at OU, is no stranger to the NCAA Tournament.  As a head coach, including last year’s interim run and 2006, Golloway has made eight appearances in the NCAA Tourney and his teams are 10-15 (4-12 at ORU).  In addition, Golloway has been on the staff of six OU teams (92, 94, 95, 04, 05 and ’06) as either an assistant or head coach.  Those squads are 24-10 and have made three College World Series Appearances (92, 94, 95), including the Sooners’ second NCAA title in 1994.

Ryan Rohlinger surpassed the 60-RBI mark on Sunday against TCU, to up his total to 63.  Rohlinger is the first Sooner to record at least 50-RBI in back-to-back seasons since Casey Bookout (1999-60, 1998-76).  Rohlinger led the team last year with 53 RBI.  Kevin Smith (65 RBI) also had a productive regional with six RBI.  He combines with Rohlinger to become the first pair of Sooners to record 60 RBI each in a season since 1998 when four players (Casey Bookout, Josey Montenegro, Richard Park and Brian Shackelford) all connected for 60 or more.

Junior Aaron Ivey and senior Ryan Rohlinger were named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Baseball Second Team released Tuesday by the College Sports Information Directors of America.  Ivey and Rohlinger were both eligible for the national award after being named First Team All-District VI members on May 11.  The pair become the first Sooners to be honored on an Academic All-America Team since Casey Bookout, who was a third-team member in 1997.

The last second-team member at Oklahoma was Greg Carlton (1982), the Sooners third second-team member in program history.  Only two other former Sooners (Booby Jack-1972 and Matt Anderson-1988) have earned first-team honors at OU.

Senior Chuckie Caufield joined a field of 30 players that will look to win the 2006 Brooks Wallace College Player of the Year Award this July.  The semi-finalist list will be cut to three on June 15.

OU’s Sunny Golloway has enjoyed a lot of success in his first year of coaching in the Big 12 with the second best winning percentage among current coaches as compared with their first year.  Below is a look at those numbers:

School/Coach                               Year  Record (%)
Nebraska Mike Anderson          2003  47-18 (.723)
Oklahoma Sunny Golloway        2006  40-19 (.678)
Oklahoma St. Frank Anderson   2004  38-24 (.612)
Texas Augie Garrido                  1997  29-22 (.568)
Kansas Ritch Price                     2003  35-28 (.555)
Kansas State Brad Hill               2005  30-25 (.545)
Baylor Steve Smith                    1995  25-28 (.471)
Texas A&M Rob Childress        2006  25-30-1 (.455)
Texas Tech Larry Hays              1987  21-28 (.428)
Missouri Tim Jamieson               1995  19-34 (.358)

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 13th consecutive week.  For the 14th 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. 10 in Collegiate Baseball and No. 9 in the NCBWA poll.  In the Baseball America poll, the Sooners at No. 17 and the ESPN/Sports Weekly Poll did not release a new poll this week (OU was No. 15 last week).  Refer to page six for a complete week-by-week breakdown of the rankings.

Although not official, provides a weekly pseudo RPI system.  OU is ranked No. 7 in this week’s ranking released on Wednesday, June 7.  The Big 12 is rated the No. 3 power conference in the nation and is right behind the ACC and SEC OU is the highest ranked Big 12 team, Texas (No. 9) and Nebraska (No. 11) are the only Big 12 teams in the top 15.  This weekend’s opponent - Rice - is ranked No. 2 behind Clemson.

In the last NCAA statistical rankings, released on Tuesday, May 30
Oklahoma was listed as the best team in terms of fielding percentage (.982) for the sixth consecutive week.    In addition, OU was tied for 30th in terms of winning percentage (.678), and 15th in batting average (.324). Individually, Steven Guerra has the fourth most wins in the nation (11), tied with 12 others.  Twelve pitchers have 12 wins, five have won 13 and only one pitcher has 14.




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