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Baseball Faces No. 5 Rice Friday at 5:10 p.m.
February 16, 2006

NORMAN, Okla. - Winners of three consecutive games, the OU baseball team (5-1) will hit the road to participate in the Coca-Cola Classic, hosted by Rice University on Feb. 17-19.

OU begins tournament action at Reckling Park in Houston, Texas at 4:30 p.m. on Friday against host Rice (4-1), ranked No. 5 by Baseball America this week. 

On Saturday, the Sooners will have a chance to avenge their only loss of the young season when they play Lamar (4-2) at 4:30 p.m.

Sunday’s finale pits OU against its second ranked opponent of 2006, No. 19 Long Beach State (4-3).  First pitch against the Dirtbags is scheduled for noon.

Game Notes (PDF)Big 12 Notes (PDF) | Schedule | Live Stats

MEDIA EXPOSURE
All three games of the Coca-Cola Classic can be heard live with Chuck Kelly calling the play-by-play.  Friday’s game versus Rice can be heard via the internet on Yahoo.  Saturday and Sunday’s contests will be carried by the Sooners’ flagship station, KOKC (1520 AM).  Saturday’s broadcast will only be heard up until the OU women’s basketball game, which is slated for a 7 p.m. tipoff.  Pregame coverage for all Sooner baseball games begin 15 minutes prior to first pitch.  Live stats for each of the games can be viewed on Soonersports.com.  Click here for more information about OU baseball broadcasts.

UPDATING THE SOONERS

The Oklahoma baseball team (5-1) completed a three-game sweep of visiting Western Illinois (2-3) on Sunday at L. Dale Mitchell Park with a 9-1 victory in the series finale. 

OU defeated the Leathernecks 13-4 in the opener on Friday and 14-0 in Saturday’s contest.   The OU offense was led by Chuckie Caufield’s seven RBI, while Kevin Smith and Aaron Reza each drove in five runs over the weekend.   The Sooners have defeated the Leathernecks in six consecutive games and own a 6-1 advantage in the all-time series after dropping a 5-4 decision to WIU in 2004.  In the seven all-time meetings, the Sooners have outscored the Leathernecks by a 70-23 count. 

The Sooners’ victories were not only fueled by offense but solid pitching from their starting rotation.   Daniel McCutchen, Steven Guerra and P.J. Sandoval all lasted at least five innings over the weekend, each recording a win.  McCutchen struck out seven batters over five innings pitched, Guerra lasted six innings with three strikeouts and Sandoval recorded a career-high five strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings.

PLAYER TO WATCH - CHUCKIE CAUFIELD

Chuckie Caufield
The Sooners’ right fielder has hit safely in every game this season and leads the team in hits (12), runs (10) and stolen bases (5).  Additionally, he ranks second on the team in batting average (.444) and RBI (8).

SCOUTING RICE

The No. 5 (Baseball America) Owls faced Texas Tech, Texas and TCU last weekend in the Houston College Classic.  Rice topped the Red Raiders 5-1, before dropping a 5-4 decision to then-No. 7 Texas.   In the tournament finale, Rice defeated then-No. 21 TCU by a 12-6 score.   The Owls are also ranked as high as No. 2 in the NCBWA poll and No. 4 by Collegiate Baseball.   

-On the mound, senior Eddie Degerman is expected to get the start against OU.  The right-hander has made two appearances this season spanning 8 1/3 innings.  In that span, he has recorded a 0.00 ERA and 13 strikeouts opposite four walks.   Sophomore Cole St. Clair (LHP) leads the team with four relief appearances and 14 strikeouts.

-Offensively,  sophomore Brian Friday is the Owls’ top hitter at a .435 clip in 23 at-bats.  Freshman Aaron Luna’s nine RBI leads the club.

-Rice is coached by Wayne Graham, who is in his 15th season at the helm with a 631-258 (.710) record.   In 25 overall seasons as a head coach, Graham is 1,206-371 (.765).

-The Owls return 20 letterwinners and 11 position starters from a 2005 team that finished first in Conference USA (45-19 overall, 21-9).   

-OU leads the all-time series with Rice, 3-1.  The two split a two-game series in the last meeting at Rice (March 14 and 15, 1992).    OU won the opener, 10-3, and dropped game two 4-3.  In 1991 at L. Dale Mitchell Park, OU swept the two-game set on March 2 and 3 (4-2, 4-3).

SCOUTING LAMAR
Lamar, who like OU started off 2006 at the UTPA Classic, is 4-2 this season and is coming off a three-game sweep of Texas-Pan American.  After dropping its first two games of 2006 to Gonzaga and Northern Colorado, Lamar has rebounded to win four straight games, including a 21-9 victory over OU on Feb. 5 in Edinburg, Texas.

-On the mound,  William Delage is expected to take the mound against the Sooners.  Delage has made two starts this season and is 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA.  He has 14 strikeouts over 10 2/3 innings.

-Offensively,  C.J. Ebarb leads Lamar with two homers and 12 RBI.  The catcher/DH is hitting .500 this season and went 3-for-5 with 3 RBI against OU on Feb. 5.

-Lamar is coached by Jim Gilligan who is in his 28th season at the helm with a 994-616 (.617) record and is 1,004-624 overall in his career.

-Lamar returns 18 letterwinners, including six position starters and five of its top seven pitchers from a team that finished 38-23 overall and a 16-11in Southland Conference play in 2006 (second place).  

-Lamar leads the all-time series with OU, 8-5.  OU has a three-game losing streak against the Cardinals, including a 21-9 defeat this season at the UTPA Classic.

Rice BaseballLamar Baseball | Long Beach Baseball

SCOUTING LONG BEACH STATE
After opening the 2006 season with a three-game series sweep of then-No. 17 USC and a 7-6 win over California, the No. 15 (Baseball America) Dirtbags are riding a three-game losing streak.  LBSU (4-3) dropped back-to-back games to the Bears (3-2 and 4-1) last weekend and in its last outing,  it dropped a 3-2 decision at No. 16 Pepperdine on Tuesday.   LBSU is ranked as high as No. 11 in the NCBWA poll and No. 15 by Collegiate Baseball.

-Right-handed Vance Worley is expected to get the starting nod versus Oklahoma.  Worley has started two games this season and is 0-0 with a 7.71 ERA.  In 9 1/3 innings, he has allowed 15 hits and nine runs. 

-Offensively,  Sean Boatright leads the club with seven RBI and is tied for the team lead with two homers.  Boatright, who is hitting .308, is one six regulars batting over .300.

-The Dirtbags are coached by Mike Weathers who is in his 15th season at LBSU.  He is 157-84 (.516) at LBSU and 436-364-2 overall.

-LBSU returns 12 letterwinners and four position starters from a 2005 team that finished 37-22 overall and 14-7 record in the Big West Conference (second place).   

-LBSU leads the all-time series 2-0 over the Sooners.  The last time the two met was in the NCAA South Regional on May 23, 1997.  The Dirtbags edged OU, 1-0, and defeated the Sooners (11-4) in the only other meeting, also a NCAA Regional (West) on May 26, 1989

WHO’S NEXT
OU heads north east to take part in the annual Service Academies Classic held in Millington, Tenn.  The tournament, hosted by the University of Memphis, will pit OU against the host Tigers on Friday at 4 p.m., Indiana State on Saturday at 1 p.m. and No. 22 (Collegiate Baseball) Notre Dame at noon on Sunday.

All three games can be heard live via the Internet on Yahoo with Chuck Kelly calling the play-by-play.   Pre-game coverage begins 15 minutes prior to each game’s first pitch.

Will Savage
CHART CLIMBERS
Senior hurlers Daniel McCutchen and Will Savage rank in the top ten on OU’s career saves list.  With two 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. 9 - Scott Dean (1981-82)
5. 8 - Geoff Geary (1997-98)
    8 - Will Savage (2005-present)
6. 7 - Daniel McCutchen (2004-present) 
    7 - George Frazier (1975-76)
    7 - Matt Ruebel (1989-00)
    7 - Scott Girod (1990)
    7 - Scott Moore (1991-92)

OFFENSIVE PRODUCTION
Although early in the season, the 5-1 Sooners have proven that they are an offensive team. OU recorded its sixth straight game with 10 or more hits on Sunday against Western Illinois.  Additionally, the Sooner offense has scored double-digit runs on three occasions this season (UTPA and WIU-2).  OU is averaging just over 11 runs a game (11.3) and 13 hits per game (13.5) in 2006.   After six games, twelve different Sooners are hitting .300 or better (minimum 10 at-bats) and six sluggers have five or more RBI.

QUICK STARTS
Since the formation of the Big 12 Conference in 1997, the Sooner baseball team has started off the season with a 5-1 record on six occasions, including this season.  The last time OU began a year with a 5-1 record was in 2004, a season that featured wins in eight of the first nine games.  Other 5-1 starts since 1997 include; 2003 (5-1), 2002 (5-1), 1999 (6-1) and 1998 (12-0). 

SMALL BALL
The 2006 Sooners are proving to be a team that has options on offense.  As the team leads the Big 12 in batting average (.386), on-base percentage (.498), slugging percentage (.567) and RBI (62) this season, it has also shown that productive outs are as important as power.  OU has shown flashes of 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 (perfect 10-for-10) and they have executed three squeeze bunts, resulting in scoring three runs from third base.

HOME OPENERS SINCE 1963
In the past 44 seasons, the University of Oklahoma baseball team is 41-3 in the first home game of the season.  From 1963-2006, the Sooners’ only losses in a home opener came in 1965 (1-0 against OSU), 1969 (3-0 against Kansas) and 1981 (6-5 against Southeastern State).    Additionally, the Sooners have only dropped one three-game set in that span - OSU in 1965 (1-2). 

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

Cory Williamson
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

6:30 p.m.

ESPNU

Sunday, April 2

Texas

2:30 p.m.

ESPNU/KOKC (network)

Sunday, April 9

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)


# 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, 5-1 (.833)

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

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Rank/School (First Place Votes) Points
1. Texas (8) 79
2. Nebraska (1) 70
3. Missouri (1) 66
4. Baylor 54
5. Oklahoma 44
6. Oklahoma State 41
7. Texas A&M 36
8. Kansas 24
8. Texas Tech 24
10. Kansas State 11