Big 12 baseball preview: Bedlam begins Friday in Oklahoma City
NORMAN, Okla. – The Bedlam Series opens with the University of Oklahoma baseball team taking on in-state rival Oklahoma State Friday night at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City. The Sooners and the Cowboys take the field for a nationally televised contest at 6:30 pm on ESPNU. OU and OSU move to Tulsa for games two and three from ONEOK Field Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 2:00 pm.
Senior Alex Wise has taken over as the OU center fielder and leadoff hitter in the last two weeks and has seen his average rise to .303 on the season. He is tied with Neuse for the team-lead in runs at 33 with 12 doubles and seven steals. Junior outfielder Cody Thomas is hitting .469 (15-for-32) since April 12 to lift his average to .288 on the year. Freshman right-hander Jake Irvin (4-1) takes the mound for the series opener for the first time this season.
Scouting the Cowboys
Oklahoma State, ranked as high as No. 12 in the country by Collegiate Baseball News, improved to 31-15 on the year with a midweek win over Oral Roberts. The Cowboys enter the weekend in second place in the Big 12 with a 12-6 record. Shortstop Donnie Walton leads OSU with a .355 batting average, 34 runs scored and 10 stolen bases. Second baseman J.R. Davis ranks second at .338, while first baseman Dustin Williams has slammed a team-high 10 home runs. Two-time Big 12 Pitcher of the Week, right-hander Thomas Hatch (5-1) gets the nod to start game one. He owns a 1.36 ERA with 71 strikeouts in 86 innings.
Last time they met
No. 25 Oklahoma State came in to Norman and left with a narrow, 4-3 win over Oklahoma on April 20 in a non-conference tilt. The Sooners got a run in the first and rallied for two in the ninth, but a pair of two-run innings in the latter half of the game secured the win for the Cowboys. OU pitchers combined to strike out 14 in the loss as OSU totaled 12 hits on 25 balls hit in play. Despite striking out 10, including six in a row, Jake Irvin took the loss with one earned run against him in 5.1 innings. Garrett Benge posted a three-hit day for the Cowboys, while Andrew Rosa came off the bench with two RBI-singles.
All-time vs. Oklahoma State
Oklahoma trails Oklahoma State in the all-time series, 153-136. The Sooners hold the longest winning streak of the series with an 11-game stretch from 1976-1978. In the last three seasons, the Cowboys hold a 10-3 advantage. The longest game played between the two was a 12-9, 18-inning victory for Oklahoma in Stillwater on April 15, 2014. Since 2013, 11 of the 16 meetings have been decided by three runs or less, including five one-run games.
Neuse hits new career marks
Against Kansas State last weekend, Neuse became the 40th player in program history to score 100 runs with 100 RBI in a Sooner career. He enters the weekend with 102 runs and 132 RBI. In Sunday’s finale against the Wildcats, Neuse launched his 23rd career home run, which went for the 200th hit of his career. He became the 18th player in OU history to reach the 200-hit mark and the first since former teammate Craig Aikin did so in 2015.
Hansen returns to the rotaion
Junior right-hander Alec Hansen made his first start in the Sooner rotation since March 24 at Texas Tech with a six-inning start against Kansas State (5/8). He took a no-hitter into the sixth, which was broken up by a leadoff, bunt-single, and finished six-shutout innings with nine strikeouts. Hansen earned his first win of the season and first since beating the Wildcats in Manhattan (5/10/15).
2500 wins in OU history
The Sooners’ 12-0 win over Kansas State (5/8) marked the 2,500th in program history. Oklahoma owns an all-time mark of 2,500-1,443-12 in 116 seasons. OU’s win total ranks the third most among teams currently in the Big 12.
Oklahoma picked up its second run-rule of the season with a 12-0, seven-inning decision over Kansas State (5/8). The Sooners previously defeated Kansas (5/1) in seven, 17-6. Prior to that, OU had last won by run-rule against New Orleans (4/21/13). Oklahoma had last won by run-rule twice in a season in 2013 as it first defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff (2/19/13). The win against the Wildcats this season marked the first time the OU baseball and softball teams won on a run-rule on the same day since Sooner baseball defeated Western Illinois (2/21/09).
Pair of Jacks
Neuse and Domenic DeRenzo each went yard twice in the Sooners’ 9-8 loss at Kansas (4/30). They became the first OU teammates to hit a pair of home runs in a game since Casey Johnson, Jamie Johnson and J.T. Wise all hit two each at Kansas State (3/22/09). Oklahoma totaled a program-record 11 home runs in a 29-4 win over the Wildcats in that game.
Home field notes
Oklahoma finished its home slate by winning all four Big 12 series at L. Dale Mitchell Park. The Sooners posted a .640 win percentage with a 16-9 record; the best since 2013 (.806). OU averaged 1,211 in home attendance; marking a rise in each of the past three seasons and the highest since 2012 (1,283).
Sooner freshmen pitchers have combined for 15 of the team’s 24 wins; the second highest total in the Big 12. Collectively, OU freshmen have posted a 3.81 ERA, 7.10 K/9 average and 1.82 K-to-BB ratio. Chris Andritsos, Austin Hansen and Jake Irvin, who has struck out a class-leading 41, have each won four games.
Keepin’ it 100
Entering the week, Neuse ranked in the top-100 of six offensive statistical categories. He peaks in the national rankings at 16th in slugging percentage (.694). Chris Andritsos ranks highest among OU pitchers with a 1.03 WHIP that is 63rd in the NCAA and first in the Big 12. As a team, Oklahoma ranks 15th with a .978 fielding percentage, which is tops in the Big 12. The Sooners are also 18th in the country with 46 double plays turned.