Saturday at 7 p.m.
June 9, 2012
NORMAN, Okla. --
No. 12 Oklahoma (42-23) opens play in the program's third NCAA Super Regional appearance on Saturday against No. 2 South Carolina (43-17). The opener of the best-of-three series gets underway at 7 p.m. CT at Carolina Stadium in Columbia, S.C.
Below are five things to watch Saturday as the Sooners and Gamecocks meet with a berth in the 2012 College World Series on the line.
1. Pitching and Defense Wins Championships
The Sooners used its power bats in the two wins over Appalachian State on Monday with 19 runs on 23 hits to advance to this weekend's action. However, the power arms of the pitching staff have been the strength of the team throughout 2012. OU will look to its staff, led by Saturday's scheduled starter and left-handed ace Jordan John, to get off to a solid start in the series. The Sooners will also need to play solid defense behind John and company, something they struggled to do last week in Virginia with at least one error in four of the five regional games.
2. Backs Against the Wall
A common theme throughout this season, the Sooners have played with their backs against the wall on more than one occasion down the stretch. OU has played some of its best baseball with the season on the line and the four wins in two days last week was a prime example of that. After dropping the opening game of the Charlottesville Regional on Saturday, OU posted two wins on Sunday and two more on Monday to eliminate Army, Virginia and Appalachian State from the tournament. This weekend, OU faces a hostile crowd on the road and a 19-game winning streak in the NCAA tournament owned by South Carolina.
The last team to defeat the Gamecocks in the NCAA postseason? The Sooners. OU won the opener of the 2010 College World Series, 4-3, over South Carolina but then was eliminated two days later by the Gamecocks after a 3-2 game decided in 12 innings.
3. Jump on Top Early
The Sooners can try to take the home crowd out of the game with a couple of runs early in the contest. OU is 23-10 when scoring first this season and 16-6 when plating a run in the first inning. The Sooners scored three runs in the first inning on Monday to help clinch the Charlottesville Regional Championship after a 5-2 victory over Appalachian State. The first frame has been kind to OU all season, as the Sooners have plated 42 runs, the third most out of any inning this season (45 scored in both the fourth and fifth innings).
4. Ride the Experience
There is no doubt thats the Gamecocks have more College World Series experience than the Sooners, with back-to-back National Championships in 2010 and 2011. But the Sooners return six players from their 2010 CWS run and they will look to that experience this weekend at South Carolina. Caleb Bushyhead is one of those players and he is riding a season-high eight-game hitting streak that features four multiple-hit games in that span. Another 2010 postseason star, Cody Reine, is coming off a monster game on Monday when he tied a career-high with six RBI. Reine's other game with six RBIs also came in the NCAA tournament (2010 Super Regional at Virginia) and six of his 20 career homers have come in the postseason.
5. Plenty of Ways to Follow the Action
Can't make it to Carolina Stadium this weekend? No problem, there are plenty of ways to follow the Sooners at South Carolina. The games can be heard on the Sooner Sports Network KREF 1400 AM with Toby Rowland on play-by-play. The entire series will also be televised on the ESPN Family with games 1-2 on ESPNU and game 3 on ESPN2. Check local listings for coverage in your area.
Sooner fans can also follow online with live stats and audio linked on SoonerSports.com. A live webcast
is available on ESPN3.com and the official Twitter feed of of the program, @OU_Baseball, will provide in-game updates.