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Midweek Update: Bedlam On Tap

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The defending Big 12 champions sweep Texas to gain control of the conference race, but all focus turns to the nonconference Bedlam matchup tonight. 

Here’s a look at where OSU stands in the national polls, some info on the upcoming Bedlam game, and my three things to watch this week.

In The Polls (As of April 6)

RPI: 9th
Collegiate Baseball: 9th (11th last week)
NCBWA: 13th (17th last week)
USA Today: 14th (16th last week)
D1Baseball.com: 14th (20th last week)
Baseball America: 15th (17th last week)

Midweek Opponent

Oklahoma Sooners (22-12, 6-3 Big 12)
All-Time Series: OSU leads 160-149
Most recent: OSU 11-8, May 23, 2014 (Big 12 Tournament)
6:00 p.m., Allie P. Reynolds Stadium, Stillwater
Live: Fox Sports Oklahoma, Stillwater Radio 93.7 FM, Twitter: @OSUBaseball

These archrivals played seven times last season, with OSU winning five of those. The Cowboys won in Norman, Tulsa and OKC – but not Stillwater. That game went 18 innings before OSU lost 12-9. This is the only non-conference Bedlam matchup this season1, but the two will meet May 1-3 in OKC and Tulsa.

The Sooners come into Stillwater on a five-game winning streak after sweeping Kansas last weekend. OU hits .287 as a team – good for 2nd in the Big 12 – and have two of the top hitters in the conference in Craig Aikin and Kolbey Carpenter.

The pitching staff is solid as well, with the conference’s third-best team ERA (2.85) and most strikeouts (307). Tonight’s anticipated starter is Jeffrey Curran, who has a 3.00 ERA in seven games but hasn’t factored in any decisions. He hasn’t pitched since March 24, when he started a nonconference game against TCU and gave up three runs in four innings.

Players To Watch:

CF Craig Aikin (.355, 29 R, 17 RBI)
2B Kolbey Carpenter (.346/.421/.575, 6 HR, 25 RBI)
RHP Jacob Evans (4-0, 2.45 ERA, 28 K in 14 appearances)

Three Things To Watch

  1. Since Holliday took over, the Cowboys are 7-3 against their biggest rival. It’s a small sample size, but this team is always motivated to play OU. Even in last year’s marathon game – a seemingly meaningless nonconference matchup – OSU fought like it was a game in Omaha.

    After the Bedlam loss, OSU went 15-3 to close the regular season on the way to a first Big 12 championship. What will this year’s edition inspire?
  2. OSU is 14-3 at home this season, with the only losses coming against Kansas State and a ranked Illinois (twice). However, leaving home is a different story: the Cowboys are just 3-5 on the road this season. They’ll get a chance to improve that this weekend when they travel to Lawrence. It’s a bit early to start thinking about NCAA postseason, but I know road wins look a lot better than road losses.
  3. It’s not just Michael Freeman we need to discuss; the entire pitching staff is on fire. OSU has a 2.44 team ERA (8th in the country) and a 1.14 WHIP (14th). Freeman and Jon Perrin have received most of the accolades this season, but the bullpen has been the backbone of this staff.

    Just last weekend, the ‘pen threw 18.2 innings, allowing 16 hits but just two earned runs. It’s starting to feel like everything is coming together for the Cowboys, and if the pitching staff can keep throwing strikes and limiting runs, a deep playoff push will almost be expected.

1. Seven games against each other last year was probably overkill.

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