OU-UT: Red River Rivalry, Stitched Ball Style

By Glenn Tanner - March 30, 2007


[Musburger]
You are looking liiiiiiiive at Disch-Falk Field!
[/Musburger]

Actually, you aren't, but I am looking at it live, and I can't believe we're going to have baseball tonight. Four hours ago, I thought there was no way, because Biblical storms blew through the area earlier today -- sheets of rain, golf ball-sized hail, a tornado, and more thunder and lightening than a bad horror movie. But Texas and Oklahoma are on the field and ready to go. Artificial turf does have its advantages.

The baseball version of Texas-OU can't match the football version in terms of passion and intensity, but this weekend's series is still a big one. Though it's still early in conference play, this series might match up the two best teams in the Big XII. Though both schools started slow this season, both have rocketed up the rankings.

Oklahoma really stumbled out of the gate. The Sooners started 2-4 and several of the losses were ugly. But the team turned it around, winning eleven straight and 18 of the last 21 to raise their RPI ranking to #12. The Sooners are 7-2 against the RPI Top 50, something that selection committee loves to look at come selection time.

Texas also started 2-4 before getting hot. The Longhorns had a nine-game win streak snapped Sunday, but rebounded Tuesday to defeat the Rice Owls for the tenth consecutive time. After the game Rice coach Wayne Graham said that Texas might be the best team in the country, and a #2 RPI ranking backs that up.

Stephen Porlier (4-1, 3.07 ERA, .224 BAA in 41 innings), a Tulane transfer, gets the start on the mound tonight for OU. Offensively, the Sooners are led by 6'2', 247-pound pack of muscle Joe Dunigan. Dunigan leads OU in both the tradition triple crown stats (6, 33, .380) and the sabermetric triple crown stats (.380, .492, .690).

OU stats

Texas sends JuCo transfer James Russell (5-2, 2.89 ERA, .221 BAA in 51 innings) to the mound. Texas pitching coach Skip Johnson, who coached Russell the last two seasons at Navarro JC, says Russell has a major league quality changeup. Maybe he learned it from his dad, former major league closer Jeff Russell. Texas has absolutely been bashing the ball this season, ranking 8th in the nation in both team slugging percentage and team OPS. Kyle Russell has led the offense. Russell leads the nation with 16 homers and ranks second in slugging and OPS. He's also tied with teammate Brad Suttle for 9th in the nation with 38 RBI.

UT stats

The wind is blowing strongly from the southeast again, so any fly ball hit towards left field will get lots of help. Hopefully the rain will hold off, because it looks like we're ready to go. Back in a few innings with updates...

Posted by Glenn Tanner at 06:52 PM on March 30, 2007
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