Ready for OU: Baseball puts four-game win streak on the line at Oklahoma

Senior second-baseman Justin Arrington shifts his body to attempt a double play during the Bears’ game against Wofford on Tuesday at Baylor Ballpark. Photo credit: Richard Hirst

Baylor baseball takes on Oklahoma this weekend in a three game road series as a part of Big 12 Conference play.

The Bears (15-14, 3-3) have won four straight games and sit at fifth place in the Big 12 standings.

“It’s very high right now,” head coach Steve Rodriguez said of the team’s confidence. “That’s one thing I really enjoy. These guys are playing hard and we’re doing a lot of good things right.”

The Sooners (15-14-1, 2-4) picked up a win over Dallas Baptist this week after taking two of three in a series against Texas last weekend.

Both teams are trying to break out of the middle of the pack of the Big 12, and a series win this weekend would help either team’s case.

“My goals are always winning,” Rodriguez said, “and I truthfully believe, as long as you play the game the right way, you throw low strikes, you play good defense and you have quality at-bats, you’re going to have success.”

The Bears took a series win over Kansas but only picked up one win against first place Texas Tech earlier in the season.

Oklahoma, meanwhile, was swept by Texas Tech before winning the Red River Rivalry series over Texas.

The Sooners are led by junior Sheldon Neuse, a pitcher who also leads the team in most offensive categories.

Neuse is first in batting average at .396, with 19 runs and team-high 42 hits and six home runs. On the other side, he holds a 0.77 ERA with a team-leading four saves on the season.

“I actually coached [him] on Team USA,” Rodriguez said of Neuse. “He’s a very quality young man. He can hit and pitch, so he can do a lot of different things.”

While Oklahoma struggles on the road, holding a 6-9 record, the Sooners are 9-5 at home. Baylor, on the other hand, boasts a 3-4 road record on the season.

“Personally, I really enjoy going on the road,” Rodriguez said. “Because guys have a tendency to rely on each other, talk a little bit more and create a little more team chemistry.”

The Sooners were ranked as the No. 21 team in the country coming into the season, but they quickly fell out of the rankings after being swept by Sam Houston State.

The Bears plan to send junior Daniel Castano to the mound on Friday, followed by junior Drew Tolson and freshman Kyle Hill on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

Baylor will look to junior outfielder Darryn Sheppard to provide a spark on offense, as he leads the team in batting average, hits, RBIs and home runs.

After the series against OU, the Bears will welcome Lamar to Baylor Ballpark next Wednesday in a midweek game.