No. 9 USAO Drovers vs. No. 7 Oklahoma City Stars
When: March 7&9, 2019
Where: Bill Smith Ballpark (7th), Jim Wade Stadium (9th)
Time: Thursday at 6 p.m.; Saturday at 1 & 3:30 p.m.
Series Record: Oklahoma City leads, 34-9 dating back to 2007.

Probable Starting Pitchers:

Thursday: USAO JR. Jean Mutaner (5-0, 1.00) vs OCU JR. Bryce Milligan (4-0, 0.00)

Saturday G1: USAO FR. Matt Merrill (4-0, 0.99) vs OCU JR. Jake Patterson (3-0, 3.96)

Saturday G2:USAO JR. Coleton Williams (4-0, 1.99) vs OCU JR. Brandon Goldston (3-1,3.67)

Just a little over a month into the season and already a key top 20 series, The 9th ranked USAO Drovers (18-2, 2-0 SAC) take on the 7th ranked Oklahoma City Stars (18-2, 3-0 SAC). This series last year brought a 2-2 split. Both teams opened up conference play this week by sweeping their opponents. The Drovers would sweep SAGU in a two game series and the Stars would grab 3 wins against Southwestern Christian.

What To Know About USAO:

The USAO Drovers come into this big series playing well, winning 11 of there last 12 games. The Drovers are coached by Head Coach Mike Ross and Tyle Hankins. Ross is in his 11th season with the Drovers and has qualified for two world series appearances. Hankins is in his first season with the Drovers as he has spent time with Northwestern Oklahoma State University as the hitting coach.

Head Coach Mike Ross said “Will be the best team have played this year. They are always one of the top teams in the NAIA and I’m excited for the series.

The Drovers all-around have picked up where they left off last season where they are coming off an impressive 46-8 finish. The Drovers are again led by SR. P.J.Garcia, who led the team in average last season with .410. This season Garcia is hitting .452 for the Drovers, with 6 doubles and 1 home run on the season. The Drovers have got very solid play out of the Oklahoma Sooner Transfer FR. Brock Henderson. He is currently hitting .485, with 5 doubles and has tacked on 7 RBI’s for the Drovers. JR. Luis Pelayo the transfer from Connors State, is presently hitting .418 with 7 doubles, 4 triples and 1 home run. JR. Ian Laureano is hitting .424 for the Drovers,with 4 doubles and 1 home run.

Drovers Shortstop P.J. Garcia said”It’s a series you look at when you get the schedule. It’s always good competition and a fun series. We both have been in the top of the conference for the last several years so it will be fun to see who comes out on top this year.”

The Drover pitching has dominated thus far through the season as they hold a team ERA of 1.61 and are holding opponents batting average to a .164 on the season. The Drovers pitching staff is led by FR. Matt Merrill, who is sitting at 4-0 with a 0.99 ERA for USAO. Merrill has thrown 27.1 innings and struck out 39 for the Drovers. Another reliable arm for the Drovers has been JR. Jean Mutaner. The lefty is sitting at 5-0 on the season with a solid 1.00 ERA. Mutaner has thrown 27 innings and has sat down 29 with the punch out. JR. Coleton Williams has started the year right, as he is 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA for the Drovers. Opponents are hitting .171 against Williams on the season.

What To Know About OCU:

The Oklahoma City Stars are also starting their season right where they left off, as they have won 10 of their last 11 games. The Stars are led by Head coach Denney Crabaugh and assistant coach Keith Lytle. Crabaugh has had a very successful journey at OCU and is currently in his 29th season with the Stars. Lytle is also in his 29th season with the Stars, and like Crabaugh has had a very successful career as the hitting coach for Oklahoma City.

Head Coach Denney Crabaugh said “Should be another hard-fought series like they have been the past few years”

The Stars offense is hitting a team average of .286, and they are led by FR. Noah Barks. Barks is currently hitting .391, with 5 doubles and has tacked on 7 RBI’s for OCU. JR. Tyler Williams is hitting .333 for the stars, as he has an impressive 5 home runs, 4 doubles and 29 RBI’s on the season. SR. Quinton Walbergh is currently hitting .365 for the Stars, with 5 doubles and 8 RBI’s.

The Oklahoma City pitching staff has been dominated by the JR. Bryce Milligan. He is dominating opponents as he is 4-0 on the season with a 0.00 ERA and struck out 41 in 34.2 innings for the Stars. Back on February 1st Milligan complete his first no-hitter of the season against Grand View (Iowa), where he threw 7 strong innings and would strikeout 8 for the Stars. JR. Brandon Goldston is another good arm for the Stars as he is 3-1 with a 3.67 ERA. Goldston has thrown 27 innings with 22 strikeouts. JR. Jake Patterson is 3-0 with a 3.96 ERA, as he has thrown 25 innings for the Stars on the season. SR. Tyler Milligan is a good arm out of the pen for the stars, as he is 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA. Milligan has thrown 5.2 innings and sat down 10 via the strikeout.

OCU pitcher Tyler Milligan said “Conference games are always important to win especially against another ranked team like USAO we always look forward to playing them should be a good weekend.”

Special Guest Pickers:

Cody From @NAIABall on twitter

Pick: Oklahoma City 2-1 series win

“Also featured as our NAIA Ball Big Series of the Week, I’m picking the Stars to win the opener on the road in Chickasha behind the arm of future All American SP Bryce Milligan 30+ IP, 0.00 ERA).

With the series heading to Oklahoma City for two games on Saturday, I’m predicting a hard fought split between two outstanding teams.

OCU wins the opener 2-1. But similar to last season, look for the Drovers to return the favor in May”

Robby Gutierrez from @NAIABall on twitter

Pick: USAO 2-1 series win

“The Drovers will have their hands full in game 1 with likely Bryce Milligan. He’s been lights out for Denney Crabaugh and the Stars this season. Tyler Williams bat will be an issue for USAO all series long. But the USAO pitching staff has been great this season. Ricardo Velez has a big time breaking ball that strikes a lot of guys out, combine that with Matt Merrill and Jean Mutaner and you’ve got a great series. Rudy Gonzalez is having a great year out of the pen and I expect that to continue vs a potent offense of OCU. On the offensive side I look for PJ Garcia and Luis Pelayo to carry the load. Garcia to get in and Pelayo to drive guys in. Daniel Lafarga and Alex Sanchez have been instrumental in putting the ball in the gaps and over the fence to help the Drovers score. All in all I believe we’re in for the best series so far this year.”