MattBob's Baseball Preview

The 16th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys (5-1) go on the road to face Cal-State Northridge (8-6) this weekend. The Cowboys enter the weekend riding a wave of offensive output highlighted by last Sunday's 19-4 win over Ball State. CSUN has the seventh toughest strength of schedule in the country and was predicted to finish last in the Big West Conference.

The Matadors host the Cowboys on a return trip as the final series of a home and home scheduling agreement. Last season the Pokes took the first two games of the series before losing in the 10th inning on Sunday at home.

Northridge will send senior right-hander Joe Rocchio to the mound Friday. He will be making his first start of the season and just the 19th of his career. Rocchio has been used as a closer primarily this season, earning three saves in five appearances, with no earned runs allowed. The Cowboys are slated to see two other right-handed veteran starters. On Saturday, Jimmy Jolicoeur, who has been the team's ace, will get the call. He is 2-1 in four starts. The Matadors will be looking for Jolicoeur to go long into his start to save a bullpen that is depleted by the starting of Rocchio. The other starter is Chuck Fink. In four starts Chuck has allowed 17 runs in just 18 innings of work.

Offensively the Matadors have a few weapons the Cowboys will have to be on the lookout for. Freshman outfielder C.J. Belanger leads the team with 21 hits. Infielder Todd Shelton will work the pitchers deep into the count, drawing a team-best 11 walks.

Oklahoma State will turn to its veterans for continued excellence at the plate. Leading the way will be outfielder Corey Brown, who leads the team in triples (2), home runs (2) and RBIs (10). Brown is following up a season in which he earned third team All-American honors. Coming into the season, Brown was trying to cut down on his strikeout numbers, to help his draft status. Brown is expected to be taken in the first or second round of the draft. However, currently he is struggling with strikeouts with seven in six games.

The Cowboy hitters will try to take advantage of the shaky left side of the infield and a team that has consistently hurt itself. Northridge's shortstop and third basemen have combined for 16 errors. Shortstop Sakurai has speed that he has utilized as the lead-off hitter and to steal seven bags, but his glove appears to have a hole in it, accounting for 10 of the team's 32 errors.

The OSU starting pitching rotation remains the same this weekend. Matt Gardner looks to expand on his current seven-game winning streak on Friday. Oliver Odle will hope to get back on track Saturday, after a short outing last weekend. He allowed four runs in just two and a third innings. Andy Oliver, the Sunday starter, is coming off his best outing of his young career allowing just one earned run in five innings of work.

The bullpen is a question that will be need to be answered before conference play. Thus far the Pokes have been boasted by performances from a bevy of newcomers. The emergence of junior college transfers Martin Beno, Justin Friend, Josh Neal and Robbie Weinhardt adds much needed depth to a young bullpen.

OSU and CSUN will do battle beginning at 4 p.m. Friday, continuing on Saturday at 3 p.m., before concluding the series on Sunday at 2 p.m. Game audio and live stats can be found at with updates here at

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