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May 9, 2013

Big Bedlam baseball weekend ahead for state of Oklahoma

STILLWATER, Okla. — The 2013 edition of the Bedlam baseball series promises to be a special one with the way things are setting up for this weekend.

The in-state rivals are the only teams in the Big 12 Conference ranked in the top 25 — Oklahoma State at No. 19 in two polls and Oklahoma peaking at 13 in the Collegiate Baseball Poll — and are separated by a game-and-a-half in the conference standings. OU is in a three-way tie atop the standings with Kansas State — which the Cowboys beat in two games in Stillwater — and West Virginia, which will travel to Allie P. Reynolds Stadium next week for the regular season finale.

“I suppose if you looked at it from that standpoint you could draw some people out for it,” OSU coach Josh Holliday said. “It’s a good point. I didn’t really think about it that way — two really good teams and I’m proud of our team. I know we’re going to show up to play hard and from all that I’ve heard and observed from their ball club, they’re a very fine ball team, too. I hope the fans that love college baseball that they would recognize that this series should be fun to watch.”

As has become tradition over the past few years, the Bedlam series will not be played on the college campus for either team. Instead, the teams will meet at ONEOK Field in Tulsa at 7 p.m. Friday, then face off at Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City on Saturday and Sunday. All three games will be televised — Friday’s opener being on ESPNU, Saturday’s contest airing on FSN and Sunday on the Cowboy Sports Network.

“I like what the series has meant in the past in those venues. I think it is something different that is a great part of the experience,” Holliday said. “But I wouldn’t at all be opposed if the games were moved back to campus, either. I think things on campus are fun, they’re different.”

Playing in the bigger ballparks means more opportunity for fans to pack the park for the marquee matchup in the state of Oklahoma.

In last year’s series, with both teams flirting with the back end of the rankings, Tulsa’s affair drew nearly 10,000 fans — and this year’s Friday night contest will feature possibly an even bigger pitching matchup between OU’s Jonathan Gray, who is being projected as a top 10 pick for the 2013 MLB Draft, and Cowboy ace Jason Hursh, who turned down a shot at the big leagues when he was drafted in the sixth round by the Pittsburgh Pirates right out of high school.

“You’ve got to treat it like any other game. You can only go out and do what you can control,” Hursh said. “You’ve got to go out and execute my pitches, live low in the zone and hopefully be all right.”

Getting the opportunity to play at Bricktown Ballpark may prove invaluable when the Big 12 Conference Baseball Championship is held at the OKC stadium beginning May 22.

“Other than the value of the series itself, it’s one of the real advantages of what the weekend does. It hopefully gives you a sense of that park and how it plays and gets your team comfortable with that setting going into the conference tournament,” Holliday said.

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