Final Big 12 Series Begins Thursday for OU

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
May 17-19 | Lawrence, Kan. | Hoglund Ballpark
Weekend Pitching Match-Ups
First Pitch Oklahoma Kansas
Thurs. 6:05 p.m. CT RHP-Jake Irvin (6-1, 3.16) RHP-Ryan Goddard (4-1, 5.08)
>>>Last Start at UCF (5/11): ND, 6.0 IP, 3 ER,8 K vs. BU (4/28) L, 3.2 IP, 9 ER, 1
Fri. 6:05 p.m. CT LHP-Levi Prater (2-2, 3.12) RHP-Ryan Zeferjahn (7-4, 3.79)
>>>Last Start at UCF (5/12): ND, 4.2, 2 ER, 6 K N/A
Sat. 1:05 CT RHP-Nathan Wiles (5-3, 3.65) LHP-Taylor Turski (2-7, 6.06)
>>>Last Start at UCF (5/13): ND, 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 6 K vs. BU (4/29): L, 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 4 K


The Oklahoma baseball team travels to Lawrence, Kan., for its final Big 12 Conference series of the regular season this weekend. The Sooners will face the Kansas Jayhawks for a three-game series beginning Thursday at 6:05 p.m. CT inside Hoglund Park.


Oklahoma is 33-19 overall and third place in the Big 12 with a 13-8 record. The Sooners are hitting .277 as a team, including a .286 mark in conference games to rank third in the league. Junior right fielder Steele Walker leads the way with a .358 average, hitting .390 in 20 conference games, and slugging .597 with 11 home runs and 49 RBI this season. Redshirt sophomore center fielder Kyler Murray ranks second on the team with nine home runs and 44 RBI, while hitting .295 this year. Murray hit .385 with two home runs, two doubles, five runs scored and eight RBI in last weekend’s series win at UCF. The OU pitching staff owns a 3.74 earned run average on the season, which ranks third in the conference. In Big 12 play, the Sooners boast a 4.12 ERA and rank second the conference with a .241 batting average against. Junior right-handed pitcher Jake Irvin, the Sooners’ Friday night starter, is 6-1 with a 3.16 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 79.2 innings worked. Sophomore right-hander Nathan Wiles is 5-3 with a 3.98 ERA, including a 3.27 mark in league games; ranking fifth in the Big 12. He has struck out 43 and walked only 10 in 61.0 innings. Junior right-handers Connor Berry and Austin Hansen have combined to record 13 saves this season. Hansen picked up two saves last week at UCF.


Projected Starters
OU Lineup BA/OBP/SLG Notes
LF-Cade Harris .276/.439/.434 3rd in NCAA in BB (55) and 23rd in R (55)
SS-Brandon Zaragoza .271/.349/.302 Made 100 consecutive start at shortstop.
RF-Steele Walker .358/.452/.497 Hit nine home runs in the last 23 games.
CF-Kyler Murray .289/.386/.545 Hitting .417 with three home runs and 12 RBI in May
3B-Brylie Ware .332/.404/.434 .360 BA, 6 2B, 18 RBI in Big 12 play.
2B-Kyle Mendenhall .310/.348/.410 Third all-time at OU with 13 career sacrifice flies
C-Brady Lindsly .284/.372/.385 Hit first HR of the season at Texas Tech (4/20).
DH-Tyler Hardman .213/.278/.316 Had game-tying two-RBI 2B vs. K-State (5/6)
1B-Cade Cavalli .213/.349/.338 Hit fourth HR of the season at UCF (5/11).


Kansas enters the weekend with a 23-27 record overall, and a 6-14 mark in conference play. The Jayhawks come in following a road series loss against Kansas State, in a series that saw a pair of extra- inning games and three one-run games.  The Jayhawk lineup is led by catcher Jaxx Groshans who is batting .330 and 40 RBI. Junior outfielder Devin Foyle, who is second on the team in RBI with 39 has slugged a team-high nine home runs.  On the hill, KU is guided by senior Ryan Ralston who boasts a 7-4 record and a 3.79 ERA in 71.1 innings. In his last start (5/12), the veteran tossed a complete game and struck out nine, and gave up only one run, but took the loss as the Jayhawks fell to Kansas State 1-0. The right-hander has held opponents to a .215 batting average and has struck out 87 batters. 


The Jayhawks won the first two games of the series by scores of 15-10 and 5-2. Oklahoma avoided the three-game sweep and snapped a seven-game skid with a 7-6 victory on April 23, 2017. In the victory, outfielder Steele Walker led the way for the OU offense with a 3-for-5, four-RBI day, a home run. Walker provided the go-ahead hit in the bottom of the eighth when he ripped a single to center. Senior relief pitcher JB Olson, tossed two scoreless innings and struck out two to earn the win.


Oklahoma leads the all-time series over Kansas, 135-75-1, including a 40-21 mark in Big 12 regular season games. In postseason play, the two sides have met seven times with OU holding a 4-3 advantage, which includes a 2-1 mark in the Big 12 Championship with a 7-2 Sooner win in the 2013 title game. Jacob Evans got the win in five innings of relief and first baseman Matt Oberste provided four RBI.


Devon Perez: 1-0, 3.60 ERA, six strikeouts ... Earned win against Kansas in 2017, allowing three hits and two runs in the series finale. Steele Walker: .417/.481/.625 ... Six games and is hitting .417 (10-for-24) with a one home run, two doubles and 10 RBI along with six runs scored. Nathan Wiles: Two appearances, 3.2 innings pitched with four strikeouts.  Brandon Zaragoza: Hit .300 (3-for-10) with two runs and two RBI during last year’s series.