NORMAN, Okla. -- The No. 25 OU baseball team (9-4) will look to rebound after Tuesday’s 12-2 loss to Wichita State with a three-game set at home this weekend against UC Riverside (9-5). Friday’s first pitch at L. Dale Mitchell Park is scheduled for 3 p.m. and Saturday’s contest will also begin at 3 p.m. Sunday’s finale is slated for a 1 p.m. start time.
The last time OU met UC Riverside in Norman was during the 2004 season. In that three-game series, the Sooners took two out of three, dropping the middle game.
The three-game series against the Highlanders will be broadcast with Chuck Kelly calling the play-by-play and former Sooner DeWayne Vaughn on color analysis. Friday’s game is an internet-only broadcast that can be heard via Yahoo and Saturday and Sunday’s games can be heard on KOKC (1520 AM). Pregame coverage for all Sooner baseball games, begins 15 minutes prior to first pitch. In addition, live stats for each of the games can be viewed on Soonersports.com. Sunday's game can be seen live on the Sooners' premium site, the O-Zone. Click here for more information on joining the O-Zone.
UPDATING THE SOONERS
The Sooners fell to 9-4 overall after Tuesday’s 12-2 loss to the Shockers. OU came up one hit shy of recording its 10th double-digit hit performance of 2006, opposite WSU’s 13 hits.
Chuckie Caufield led OU with two of team’s nine hits (including a leadoff home run), the sixth time this season he has led the club or been tied for the team lead in a game, and seven other Sooners connected for a base hit against WSU. Jackson Williams had the other RBI for the Sooners.
Ryan Mottern (0-1), who made his first start of 2006 and first since suffering a season-ending injury (elbow) last season at TCU on March 22, gave up three earned runs off two hits and two walks. Damon Sublett started the Shockers’ third-inning rally with a two-run home run that gave that put them ahead 3-1. Earlier in the frame, Josh Workman drove in a run off a sacrifice fly to left field.
The OU bullpen (Nate Hammons, John Brownell, Will Savage and Nich Conaway), which had not given up an earned run since Feb. 17 against then-No. 5 Rice (span of 5 games), combined to allow nine earned runs on Tuesday. Brownell (three runs) and Savage (five runs) had their personal streaks of holding the opposition to zero earned runs in consecutive outings end. Brownell entered the game without allowing an earned run in four-consecutive appearances (8 1/3 innings) and Savage compiled 3 1/3 innings over the three games prior to Tuesday’s contest.
TICKETS AND PROMOTIONS
Seats to Tuesday’s game are available for $10 (reserved), $7 (general admission), $5 (youth) and $3 (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, on Saturday, the first 750 fans in attendance will receive an OU baseball schedule magnet and after Sunday’s finale, kids are invited to run around the bases.
SCOUTING UC RIVERSIDE
The Highlanders began 2006 on a three-game winning streak after sweeping San Francisco University, but then struggled with losses in three of their next four games, one game to USC and two to Arizona. Since then, UC Riverside has gone on to win five of its last seven games, including wins over Arizona and UCLA, and is most recently coming off a 2-1 series win over Cal State Northridge.
-Offensively, Jeff Dunbar, who has been inserted into the UCR lineup as a designated hitter, catcher and first baseman in 2006, leads the team with 12 RBI. Dunbar is the only Highlander with double-digit figures in RBI and ranks third on the team with a .432 batting average.
-Sophomore James Simmons will get the start on Friday in the series opener against OU. Simmons has been UCR's most consistent starter with a 3-1 mark in four starts and a 1.57 ERA. The righty has struck out 31 batters in 28.2 innings, opposite four walks.
-UC Riverside is coached by Doug Smith, who is in his second season at the Highlanders’ helm. He was 28-27 last year at UCR, his first year as a collegiate head coach. Returning from last year’s team that finished fourth in the Big West Conference, are 22 letterwinners and eight position starters.
-UCR and OU have met on six occasions and all of those meetings have occurred in the last four seasons. In 2002 at UC Riverside, the Highlanders took two games out of the three-game set. In 2004 in Norman, the Sooners returned the favor by winning the three-game series with wins in the opener and the finale.
PLAYER TO WATCH - DANIEL McCUTCHEN
The Sooners will hit the road for their second mid-week game of the season when they travel to Fort Worth, Texas to battle Texas Christian. First pitch on Tuesday, March 7 is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday’s game will be carried on the Sooners’ flagship station KOKC (1520 AM) with Chuck Kelly calling the play-by-play. After the meeting with the Horned Frogs, the Sooners return home to host Centenary for a three-game series at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
For the first time since the preseason polls were released, the Oklahoma baseball team cracked into the top-25 rankings this week. The Sooners are No. 25 in the Collegiate Baseball poll and No. 30 in the NCBWA poll. OU started off at No. 29 in the Collegiate Baseball preseason poll and No. 28 in the NCBWA poll.
Tuesday’s game versus Wichita State, saw 1,410 fans on hand at L. Dale Mitchell Park. The crowd was the largest for the Sooners in a February home game since Feb. 7, 1999, when 1,680 fans were in attendance to watch the Sooners’ season-opening win over Emporia State, 10-3.
OU AGAINST RANKED COMPETITION
The Sooners have faced four 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 2-2 in those contests, topping Long Beach State (20, 19, 15, 11) and Notre Dame (NR, NR, 22, 27) and falling to Rice (4, 5,4, 2) and Wichita State (NR, NR, 28, 24). The Sooners will also face nine more ranked teams (TCU, Arizona State, Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M, Missouri, Rice, Wichita State and Nebraska) later this season listed in this week’s polls, combining for 22 of their final 43 games.
The Sooners are in the middle of its second longest home stand of the season - four games. After back-to-back weeekends on the road, OU started a stretch on Tuesday that will see them play at L. Dale Mitchell Park in seven of its next eight games. A mid-week game at TCU is the lone away game in that stretch. The Sooners’ longest home stand comes near the end of the month when Baylor (March 24-26) comes to town for three games, followed by Dallas Baptist (March 28) in a mid-week contest, and concludes with Texas for a three-game set (March 31-April 2).
SERVICE ACADEMIES ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Daniel McCutchen and Jackson Williams were honored as part of the 18th Annual Service Academies Classic held last weekend at USA Stadium in Millington, Tenn. McCutchen tied a career high with 10 strikeouts against Memphis on Friday, lasting 8 2/3 innings in the defeat, while Williams hit .375 with two RBI.
SCORING EARLY AND OFTEN
OU ranks third in the Big 12 in runs scored with 96 and it has recorded 75 percent of those tallies in the second through six innings this season. The Sooners have crossed the plate 72 times in those five innings, including 18 times in the sixth frame alone. Additionally, OU has scored first in all but three of its games this season (Texas State, Rice and Indiana State) and is 7-3 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.
Although early in the season, the 9-4 Sooners have proven that they are an offensive team after recording 10 or more hits in eight of its 13 games. Additionally, the Sooner offense has scored double-digit runs on four occasions this season (UTPA, WIU-twice and Lamar-Feb. 18). OU is averaging 7.4 runs a game and 10.5 hits per game in 2006. Additionally, seven different Sooners are hitting .300 or better (minimum 15 at-bats) and 10 sluggers have five or more RBI, including three with 10-plus (Caufield, Reza and Smith).
GOING THE DISTANCE
The Sooners’ offense has had the spotlight early in the season, but the starting rotation on the weekend has been equally effective. Seniors Daniel McCutchen, Steven Guerra and P.J. Sandoval have started four games apiece so far in 2006 and have made each start last five innings or more on all but one occasion (2 1/3 innings for Sandoval on Feb. 5 vs. Lamar). Guerra has pitched six innings or more three times this season, while McCutchen has gone six-plus innings twice and Sandoval has one start over six innings. In the Sooners’ lone mid-week game this season, Ryan Mottern lasted three innings.
CONSISTENT POSITION STARTERS
The Sooners have used numerous different starting lineups this season, featuring two or more players at every position except right field. Chuckie Caufield has started all 13 games in right field and is the only Sooner to start every game in 2006. In addition, Caufield has hit in the leadoff spot in all but one game this season. The only Sooner close to Caufield’s consistency in the lineup is Kevin Smith. Smith is the only other Sooner to play in every game this season and he has started 12 games, all at first base.
Senior hurlers Daniel McCutchen and Will Savage rank in the top ten on OU’s career saves list. With four saves this season, Savage is tied at the No. 5 spot with former Sooner and current professional Geoff Geary (Philadelphia Phillies). Below is a look at where Savage and McCutchen rank all-time:
1. 28 - Jeff Bajenaru (1999-2000)
2. 17 - Jarod McAuliff (2002-04)
3. 14 - Bucky Buckles (1994)
4. 10 - Will Savage (2005-present)
5. 9 - Scott Dean (1981-82)
6. 8 - Geoff Geary (1997-98)
7. 7 - Daniel McCutchen (2004-present)
7 - George Frazier (1975-76)
7 - Matt Ruebel (1989-00)
7 - Scott Girod (1990)
7 - Scott Moore (1991-92)
The 2006 Sooners are proving to be a team that has options on offense. As the team ranks fourth in the Big 12 in batting average (.315) and third in runs scored (96) and RBI (89) 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 leading the conference in the power numbers listed above, the Sooners also lead the Big 12 in sacrifices (18-for-19) and they have executed four squeeze bunts out of five, resulting in scoring four runs from third base. OU is also third in the conference in stolen bases (22).
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.
UTPA CLASSIC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Four Sooners were named to the 18-member All-Tournament Team for the UTPA Classic held in Edinburg, Texas. Ryan Rohlinger (4-for-7, 2 RBI), Ryan Mottern (4-for-9, 5 RBI), Chuckie Caufield (7-for-15, RBI) and Steven Guerra (1-0, 3.60 ERA) helped the Sooners to a 2-1 record at the UTPA Classic
BIG 12 COMMISSIONER’S HONOR ROLL
Ten members of the OU baseball team were named to the Fall Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll. Steven Guerra, Joseph Hughes, Aaron Ivey, Kody Kaiser, Ryan Mottern, Russell Raley, Aaron Reza, Ryan Rohlinger, P.J. Sandoval and Cory Williamson made the list. In order to qualify for the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll a student-athlete must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA for the semester. In addition, Guerra and Ivey maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA for the semester. .
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, 9-4 (.692)
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