MattBob's Baseball Report-Kansas

Oklahoma State opened up 2007 Big 12 play the same way it ended 2006 -- winning. The series win against KU makes seven consecutive conference series wins. The 14th-ranked Cowboys improved to 19-6 overall and 2-1 in Big 12 play. Kansas fell to 15-14 and 2-4 in conference.

The series opener Friday was highlighted by an offensive explosion. In a 14-4 rout, five Cowboys had multiple hit games. The 17 hits by OSU were the most in Big 12 play by a Cowboy team since 2004. Rebel Ridling and Matt Mangini both collected two extra base hits, with a double and home run each.

KU showed everyone just how hard it is to pull off a sweep on the road Saturday, taking the game 6-3. However, Oklahoma State need look no further than its own defense to find a reason for the loss, and something to be corrected. Of KU's six runs only three were earned. The Cowboys' defense had been fairly good all season and ranked third in the Big 12 in team fielding, but three scored errors cost them the game. When a team extends an inning with an error more often than not that ends up hurting them, which was the story of Saturday.

The rubber match of the series Sunday saw the Cowboys jump out early on the Jayhawks, then frustrate them with good pitching. A starter is expected to go out and give his team six good innings, and Andy Oliver did just that. In 5 and 2/3 innings of work, he allowed two runs on three hits. However he continued to have trouble walking batters. Oliver picked up the win and improved to 5-0 striking out five.

Oliver Odle, who started Friday's game, worked an inning of work, striking two of the five batters he faced Sunday. To finish off the Jayhawks and seal the victory, Frank Anderson turned to last year's closer, Jordy Mercer. In Mercer's 2 and 1/3 innings, he allowed just one hit.

Mercer returned to the bullpen last weekend. Since being cleared to play, Mercer has pitched five innings of relief work without allowing a run. The KU series was the first time Jordy had been cleared to play his shortstop position. His return brings experience to the infield and allows Anderson to move some things around at the designated hitter position. Since returning Jordy has five hits in 12 at-bats with a double and two walks.

The return of Jordy means a more consistent hitting in the lineup, a stabilizer in the bullpen, and more talented play at shortstop. Matt Lopez played extremely well in his stead, but was never a long term solution. Lopez's play allows Anderson to place a quality infielder at short, when Mercer is brought in as a reliever. Lopez and Dylan Brown will split time at designated hitter.

The series most valuable player is a sometimes unsung hero in Keanon Simon. Simon's speed and defense in center is an often overlooked asset for the Cowboys. This season, he has added a very potent bat to go with the glove. Keanon is currently riding a 10-game hitting streak which was highlighted by a five-hit outing on Friday. Five-hit days are becoming a trend for the lead off man. This was his second five-hit day of the season.

The Cowboys will have the midweek off before hosting their first conference opponent this weekend when Baylor comes to town. The Sunday, April 1, series finale game will be the first of the Cowboys' games this season to be broadcast on TV, being shown on Fox Sports Net.

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