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March 29, 2001

A CLOSER LOOK AT OKLAHOMA

Big Red Showdown

Oklahoma (10-19, 5-7 Big 12) returns home after its two-week road trip to face No. 8 Nebraska (17-7, 5-2 Big 12) for a Big 12 Conference showdown at L. Dale Mitchell Park this weekend. The series begins Friday at 7 p.m., continues Saturday at 2 p.m. and wraps up Sunday at 1 p.m. Oklahoma baseball foam bats will be given away free to the first 1,000 fans through the gate on Saturday.

The Sooners are currently tied for seventh place in the conference standings while the Cornhuskers own sole posession of third place in the league entering the weekend.

Last Time Out

Oklahoma dropped the final game of the baseball Red River Rivalry series, 5-2, to Texas Sunday afternoon at Disch-Falk Field in Austin. The Sooners out-hit the Longhorns by a 9-8 margin, but three errors in the game led to three unearned runs for OU. The Oklahoma offense once again had trouble bringing runners home as for the third-straight time in the series, OU stranded 10 runners with seven in scoring position.

OU and UT traded runs through the first two innings with the Longhorns emerging with a slim 3-2 lead after two frames. Oklahoma jumped ahead in the top of the first inning when senior third baseman Jason Bartlett (1-for-5) nailed a double to left field and scored two batters later when junior shortstop Sergio Garcia (2-for-3) delivered a two out single.

The Sooners plated another run in the second frame when freshman second baseman Matt Fisher (1-for-3) singled with one out and, following a walk by junior catcher Chris Haggard (0-for-2), senior centerfielder Jerome Godsey (2-for-5) doubled home Fisher.

Texas did most of their damage through the first three innings scoring two in the first frame and one each in the second and third innings. Oklahoma starting pitcher Austin Mix (0-5) settled down and only surrendered one more run through the next four frames. Mix finished the game giving up only two earned runs and eight hits, while striking out nine, over seven innings of work.

At The Plate

As a team, Oklahoma is batting .291 with 24 home runs and 156 RBIs ... In Big 12 Conference games, the squad is hitting .287 with nine home runs and 57 RBIs ... As of March 26, OU stood in fifth place in the Big 12 in hitting and ranked fourth in hitting in conference games only ... OU has pounded out the fourth-most home runs of all the team's in the league ... The club's per game averages stand at 10.10 hits, 5.69 runs and 1.55 doubles ... The team's leading hitter last week was Greg Dobbs ... The senior first baseman batted .667 (12-for-18) with four runs scored and six RBIs ... Dobbs also posted three multi-hit performances, including establishing a career high and tying a school record with five hits against UTA ... Junior shortstop Sergio Garcia collected at least one hit and drove in at least one run in all four games last week while hitting .400 (6-for-15).

On The Mound

The Sooner pitching staff is currently sporting a 5.37 ERA and has allowed 150 earned runs in 251.1 innings pitched ... In Big 12 Conference games only, the staff owns a 5.07 ERA with 58 earned runs given up in 103.0 innings pitched ... On the average, the Sooners are surrendering 10.7 hits, 7.1 runs and 4.3 walks per game while striking out 5.8 batters a contest ... As of March 26, OU stood in ninth place in the Big 12 in staff ERA and sixth in league games only ... Freshman closer Mark Roberts has thrown 3.2 innings of scoreless relief in his last three appearances ... Roberts has also fanned six batters and allowed only one hit over that stretch ... Junior Rocky Cherry suffered only his third loss in his last 13 decisions in Saturday's 8-1 defeat at No. 25 Texas.

DIAMOND NOTES

* Wednesday's game versus Oral Roberts was postponed due to bad weather and poor field conditions. A make-up date for the game will be determined at a later date and time.

* Head Coach Larry Cochell picked up his 400th victory at the helm of the Oklahoma Sooners in Wednesday's 7-2 win over Texas-Arlington.

* Senior first baseman Greg Dobbs tied a school record for hits in a game with five against UTA, also setting a career high. The record is shared by 20 other former Sooner players.

* Shortstop Sergio Garcia continues to improve his fielding. Garcia has only committed one error in 40 chances over the last two weeks.

* Garcia is also swinging a hot bat. The junior is currently riding a career-high six game hitting streak in which he is batting .455 (10-for-22) with two runs scored and five RBIs.

* Freshman starting pitcher Buddy Blair put on his best performance of the season last Tuesday at UTA. Blair worked four innings, allowed only two hits and no earned runs while walking three and striking out one.

* Sophomore Austin Mix has been hindered by nine unearned runs and only 2.20 runs per game of run support in his five losses this season.

* The Sooners' bullpen continues to improve as well. Over the last four games, the pen has posted a 3.27 ERA and has allowed only four earned runs in 11 innings pitched.

MORE ON OKLAHOMA

Milestone Victory

Larry Cochell picked up his 400th victory at OU last Wednesday with a 7-2 win at Texas-Arlington. Cochell, who opened the 2000 season with his 350th win at Oklahoma, accomplished the 400-win milestone quicker than any other OU head baseball coach in school history.

The 400-win mark is the second time in his career that Cochell has achieved the feat. As the head coach at Oral Roberts (1977-1986), Cochell amassed 428 wins in 10 seasons with the Golden Eagles.

What A Week!

Greg Dobbs put together his best offensive week of the season last week. Over the four game stretch versus Texas-Arlington and No. 25 Texas, the senior first baseman recorded a hit in every game, including three multi-hit performances. Dobbs also scored at least one run in all but one of the four games last week.

His top performance came against UTA where he produced a career-high five hits and also tied a school record for hits in a game. Dobbs also contributed two runs scored and set a season high in RBIs with four versus the Mavericks. Dobbs then baffled Longhorn pitching by collecting three hits in each of the first two games of the series against UT. His three hits were team highs in both contests.

The Moreno Valley, Calif., native led the team in average, hits and RBIs for the week and also swiped two bases over the four games.

On The Verge

Junior Rocky Cherry is six appearances shy of breaking Oklahoma's all-time appearances record of 68. Cherry currently sits tied for fifth place on the list with Darrell Rogers (1982-85) with 63 career appearances. The all-time mark is owned by Casey Mendenhall who pitched for OU from 1990-1992.

The righthander has averaged 26 appearances over his first two seasons with the Sooners and his 31 outings last season stand as fourth-best on the school's single-season appearances list.

AT THE PLATE: NEBRASKA

Scouting The Cornhuskers

After rattling off 13 wins in a row and jumping out to a 15-3 record to open the season, No. 8 Nebraska has won only two of its last six games to stand at 17-7 overall and 5-2 in the Big 12 Conference. However, three of the 'Huskers' four recent losses have only been one-run deficits. UN is scheduled to face Wisconsin-Milwaukee in a doubleheaader on Wednesday before facing OU over the weekend.

Nebraska's strength lies in its offense which boasts nine regulars that are batting .315 or better on the season. The Cornhuskers' average is tops in the Big 12 and UN also sports the best conference only average among the league teams at .302. As a team, the 'Huskers are hitting .342 with 28 home runs and 225 runs scored. Senior first baseman Dan Johnson leads the team in batting average (.439) and home runs (8). Johnson also ranks second individually in the league in both categories.

UN's pitching staff is led by returning All-America Shane Komine. The junior righthander posesses a staff-best 6-1 record and 55 strikeouts, while also recording a 4.15 ERA. On the year, Nebraska hurlers have combined for a 4.82 ERA and surrendered only 112 earned runs in 209.1 innings pitched while holding opponents to a .279 batting average.

Komine is Friday's projected starter, while sophomore lefthander Jamie Rodrigue (2-3, 6.10 ERA) and senior lefthander Brian Rodaway (1-0, 1.69 ERA) are expected to start on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.