NORMAN, Okla. -- The No. 16 Oklahoma baseball team (25-10, 5-4 Big 12) will look to continue its three-game winning streak this weekend against Missouri (16-15 6-6 Big 12) in a three-game series in Norman.
First pitch at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Friday is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the opener will be followed by a 3:05 p.m. contest on Saturday. The series will conclude on Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Tigers have won three straight games over OU dating back to the final two games of the series in Columbia last year and the first round game of the 2005 Big 12 Championship.
Saturday and Sunday’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. Friday’s contest is an internet-only game and can be heard live via Yahoo. Pregame coverage for all Sooner baseball games, begins 15 minutes prior to first pitch.
On Saturday, OU can be seen live on a regional broadcast by Fox Sports Southwest (Cox channel 37 in OKC). Greg Lucas and Jack Lazorko will provide the on-air talent as the Sooners will make their fourth appearance on television this season (three-game series against Texas was carried by ESPNU).
In addition, live stats for all games this season can be viewed on Soonersports.com. Friday and Sunday’s games can also be seen live via a web cast on the O-Zone.
TICKETS AND PROMOTIONS
Seats to this weekend’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. On Friday, the first 500 fans will receive free foam OUs and it will also be "Tax Night" at L. Dale Mitchell Park. Fans can have their taxes prepared at the game by the Oklahoma Tax Commissionon. On Saturday, the first 250 fans will receive a free Sooner Mascot Bobblehead and the day will also mark the Second Annual Car Show. Exotic cars will be on display in the Lloyd Noble Center parking lot prior to the baseball game from noon to 2 p.m. and fans are encouraged to vote for their favorite car. For Sunday’s finale, the first 250 kids will receive a free candy egg and are invited to run around the bases after the game. Oklahoma coaches and players will be signing autographs after every game this weekend.
UPDATING THE SOONERS
OU won its third straight game on Tuesday against visiting TCU to sweep the season series. The Sooners also topped the Horned Frogs back on March 7 in Fort Worth, Texas (10-5). Tuesday’s victory snapped TCU’s five-game winning streak and increased the Sooners’ current streak against the Horned Frogs to four games. John Brownell and Will Savage (5-2) were effective in relief and Chuckie Caufield and Kevin Smith contributed three RBI apiece to complete the Sooners’ ninth comeback victory this season and second in as many games.
The Tigers opened up Big 12 play this season in successful fashion with wins in three of their first four conference games. After winning the final two games of the Kansas State series in Columbia and topping Kansas in the series opener in Lawrence on March 31, Missouri has dropped six consecutive games (five in Big 12 play). Last weekend, the Tigers were swept in Columbia against Nebraska. Most recently, Missouri was defeated at home in mid-week action against Southeast Missouri State on Tuesday, 9-5.
Missouri has fared better away from its home, going 8-3 on the road, as opposed to 7-8 at Taylor Stadium.
-Offensively, sophomore Evan Frey holds the top batting average on the club. The outfielder is hitting .384 this season with 13 RBI and has been even more impressive in Big 12 play with a .431 clip and six RBI.
Sophomore Jacob Priday (.330) leads the Tigers with 29 RBI and three homers. In Big 12 play this year, the utility player is hitting. 267 with one home run and eight RBI.
-Missouri is expected to start left-handed Nathan Culp in the series opener. Culp is 6-3 this season with a 2.51 ERA. He has started nine games and tossed one complete game 61 total innings. In that span, he has posted 38 strikeouts and five walk. Last year, he started in game two against the Sooners and allowed four runs off eights hits in five innings pitched. Missouri won that game 10-6 but Culp did not factor in the decision. OU is hitting .338 versus lefties this year.
-Missouri is coached by Tim Jamieson, who is in his 12th season at the Tigers’ helm and is 380-277-2 (.583) in that span. He led the Tigers to a 40-23 record last year and a fourth-place finish in the conference (16-11). Returning from last year’s team that finished 1-2 in the NCAA Fullerton Regional, are 17 letterwinners and eight position starters.
-OU leads the all-time series 136-97-1. Missouri has won three straight games over the Sooners but OU swept the Tigers the last time they played in Norman. OU has won five of the nine series meetings since the start of Big 12 play. In that span, OU is 11-1 at home versus the Tigers (lost 14-6 on April 21, 1998). In 1997, the two split the only two regular season meetings in Columbia. In addition, the two are tied at two victories apiece when playing in the Big 12 Championship.
PLAYER TO WATCH: P.J. SANDOVAL
OU will conclude its five-game home stand with No. 2 Rice on Tuesday, April 18. First pitch at L. Dale Mitchell Park is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game also feature $.50 hot dogs and cokes while supplies last. After the mid-week contest, OU will hit the road for a three-game series at Texas Tech over the weekend.
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 fifth consecutive week, gaining ground in the Baseball America poll. For the seventh 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. 29 in Collegiate Baseball and No. 18 in the NCBWA poll. In the USA Today/ESPN poll, OU remained at No. 16 and Baseball America has the Sooners at No. 17. Refer to page six for a complete week-by-week breakdown of the rankings.
OKLAHOMA/BIG 12 RPI’s
Although not official, Boydsworld.com provides a weekly pseudo RPI system. OU is ranked No. 22 in this 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 last weekend 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 35 games, OU owns the best fielding percentage in the Big 12 (.981), has committed the fewest errors (25) and has turned the third-most double plays (30). OU has finished 14 games this season without an error and is 12-2 in those contests (lost to Rice and Memphis).
TWO OUT OF THREE AINT BAD
In all but one of the first 10 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 State, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech in three-game series and also topped Texas A&M and Baylor this season.
OU has connected for 102 RBI with two outs on the board in 2006. That accounts for 44 percent of the team’s total of 231 RBI. The team’s top two RBI individuals, Kevin Smith (36) and Ryan Rohlinger (32), each have double-digit RBI with two outs with 18 and 16, respectively. In addition, Aaron Reza (21) and Freddy Rodriguez (18) have both driven in 10 runs with two outs.
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. The pitching staff is averaging just under three walks per game (2.86-third best average in the Big 12) and has walked two or fewer batters on 16 occasions this year (OU is 13-3 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.
The Sooners have played in 13 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).
CRUCIAL LAST AT-BAT
WHEN A STARTER EXITS
OU is 18-2 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 5-4 with wins over Texas State, Notre Dame, Baylor (March 26), UT-Arlington (April 4) and TUC (April 11) and losses to Lamar (Feb. 5), Rice, Wichita State and Dallas Baptist. There has only been two games this season that a starter left and the score was tied and OU split those games. Steven Guerra made the start in each 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. 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.
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, 27). 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 21 regular season games. (All rankings listed were taken at the time of competition).
After the Sooners conclude their five-game home stand on Tuesday versus Rice, they will begin the longest stretch of games away from the friendly confines of L. Dale Mitchell Park. Next weekend, OU will begin that seven-game road trip at Texas Tech (April 21-23). The Sooners will then head to Lawrence, Kan., to battle the Jayhawks (April 28-30) and the road trip concludes at Wichita State on May 2.
SCORING EARLY AND OFTEN
OU is ranked second in the Big 12 (overall games) in runs scored with 251 and it has recorded 67 percent of those tallies in the second through six innings this season. The Sooners have crossed the plate 167 times in those five innings, including 38 times in the second frame alone. Additionally, OU has scored first in all but 14 of its games this season (Texas State, Rice, Indiana State, Centenary-GM3, Arizona State-GM1, Baylor-GM1 and GM3, Dallas Baptist, the entire Texas series, UT-Arlington, Texas A&M-GM1 and TCU) and is 18-3 when it posts the game’s first run, suffering losses to Wichita State, Lamar on Feb. 5 and Memphis. Listed on page 14 is a complete breakdown of OU’s runs scored inning-by-inning.
TRUE ROAD GAMES
Even though OU is 11-5 when playing away from L. Dale Mitchell Park, it is only 6-3 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, split two games at ASU and most recently took two out of three at Texas A&M. OU is 5-2 in the remaining games, all neutral sites, falling to Memphis and Lamar (Feb. 5).
EXTRA BASE HITS
OU has recorded two or more extra base hits in all but nine games this season (LBSU, Memphis, Indiana State, UC Riverside-GM1, Baylor-GM1, Texas-GM1 and GM2 and Texas A&M-GM1 and GM2). OU is 21-5 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 was accomplished against Arizona State in game two of the series. In that contest, OU connected for five doubles and two home runs.
BULLPEN VS. STARTERS
Daniel McCutchen, Steven Guerra, P.J. Sandoval, Ryan Mottern, Will Savage, John Brownell and Brad Burns have all made at least one start this season and are a combined 19-9 this season with an ERA of 3.95. The Sooners’ bullpen consisting of 12 pitchers is 6-1 with eight saves and a 5.93 ERA. Additionally, the Sooners’ starters account for 64 percent of the team’s strikeouts (161/252) and 53 percent of the team’s walks (54/101). Finally, teams are hitting .250 against the starters and .294 against the bullpen.
The 25-10 Sooners have proven that they are an offensive team after recording 10 or more hits in 21 of its 35 games with an 19-2 record. Additionally, the Sooner offense has scored double-digit runs on 11 occasions this season (UTPA, WIU-twice, Lamar-Feb. 18, TCU, Centenary-twice, ASU-March 18, Baylor-March 26, Texas- April 2 and TCU-April 11). OU is averaging 7.1 runs a game and 10.6 hits per game in 2006. Additionally, five different regulars are hitting .300 or better (min. 70 at-bats) and 10 sluggers have 13 or more RBI, including four with 20 or more (Caufield-23, Reza-21, Rohlinger-32 and Smith-36).
GOING THE DISTANCE
Seniors Daniel McCutchen and Steven Guerra have started 10 games apiece so far in 2006 and have made each start last five or more innings. Additionally, Guerra and McCutchen have each gone six or more innings eight times. OU’s third starter, P.J. Sandoval, has lasted five-plus in all but two of his nine starts (Feb. 5 vs. Lamar and March 26 vs. Baylor). Sandoval has three starts over six innings. Ryan Mottern is the only other OU pitcher with more than one start. He has pitched in three mid-week games and lasted three innings in his first start and five frames in each of the following starts (TCU and UTA).
The 2006 Sooners are proving to be a team that has options on offense. As the team ranks second in the Big 12 in RBI (231), hits (371) and runs scored (251) and fifth in batting average (.312) this 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 (44-for-48) and they have executed five squeeze bunts out of eight, 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, 25-10 (.714)
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