The Cougs face their second straight elimination game today and the opponent is very different that the one they saw yesterday. While Wichita State was scary because of their impressive starting pitching, Oklahoma's lineup is what strikes fear into the hearts of their foes. David Stilley takes the mound for WSU and Garrett Richards does the same for the Sooners.
Garrett Richards is most definitely hittable. If the Cougars put a lot of runs on the board today, it's not because they are relaxed or acclimated to the environment, it will because they are facing a pitcher that is just not very good. From the stats, it would appear that Richards is a power pitcher with very poor control. He strikes out a very impressive 24.5% of the batters he faces, but he also walks 12.1% of them. Richards gives up a lot of homeruns (nearly twice the national average) and he allows a .379 on-base%. The Cougs have a very good chance to be successful at the plate today. They need to be patient and they will get guys on base. They will have opportunities to drive the baseball and push a lot of runs across against this guy.
More good news is that David Stilley is the better pitcher is this matchup. The bad news is that Oklahoma is a very good hitting team. They hit a lot of homeruns and draw a lot of walks. Stilley has very good control, but he does give up his fair share of homers. If he can limit the free passes and keep the guys off base when the bombs happen, he can be effective today.
It was discussed yesterday, and I agree, Oklahoma is the better matchup for this first game today. Winning two straight games at OU's home park would have been a daunting task and OU's pitching is not all that great once you get past the number one guy. If the Cougs win this one, they will need to beat Arkansas twice to advance to the Super-Regionals.