TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Sooners went back and forth for a full nine innings with the Sun Devils on Sunday at Packard Stadium but could not avoid the series sweep as they suffered a 6-5 defeat.
The loss gives Oklahoma its first three-game losing streak of the season and the weekend also handed OU its first defeat in a series this season with an opponent.
OU led the game for the first four frames but fell behind 6-3 after the seventh inning. Kevin Smith’s two-run RBI double gave the Sooners hope late in the game but ASU’s Jason Irquidez closed the door on OU. The Sun Devils’ designated closer allowed just two hits and no runs through two innings pitched.
Ryan Rohlinger’s career-high 12-game hitting streak was snapped on Sunday after the junior went 0-for-5 in the series finale. Rohlinger still leads the team in batting average (.390), hits (32) and is second in RBI (20).
After ASU took an early lead off a solo homer by Travis Buck in the bottom of the first, the Sooners quickly countered when Chuckie Caufield drove in two runs on a single to center field. Eric Thornton (single) and Joe Dunigan (walk) scored on the hit that put the Sooners ahead 2-1 after the top of the second frame.
Jackson Williams helped expand the Sooners’ lead to 3-1 after he singled up the middle to bring home Thornton who had walked earlier in the frame. ASU would cut into that lead immediately in the bottom half of the fourth on another solo home run, this time off of Tuffy Gosewisch’s bat with OU starter Brad Burns still on the mound.
ASU continued to rally and knotted things up at three on a stolen base by Buck that resulted in a run. Buck reached earlier on a walk and moved to second after Jeff Larish was intentionally walked with two outs. That set up the stolen base attempt by Buck who successfully took third base and then advanced home on a throwing error by OU catcher Jackson Williams.
Burns was in trouble again in the sixth inning after loading the bases with zero outs. That ended the outing for the freshman hurler who was relieved by Daniel McCutchen. Thrown into a tough situation, McCutchen pitched masterfully to get out of the jam. He struck out pinch hitter Joe Persichina, got the force out at home plate on Andrew Romine’s fielder’s choice and took Rocky Laguna to a full count before forcing him to fly out to left field to end the inning and keep the game tied at three after six.
Burns turned in a decent outing for Oklahoma, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits and four walks while striking out three. The Gracemont, Okla., native has not recorded a decision since winning his first game of the season on Feb. 21 against Eastern Illinois.
The Sun Devils loaded the bases again in the seventh inning with one out and the Sooner defense could not prevent ASU from taking the lead. McCutchen again battled his way through the ASU threat by striking out his third batter of the game to record the second out in the seventh. But the next batter, Joey Hooft, hit a high-fly ball to center field that center fielder Jeff Scuderi was unable to field with the bright sun and the wind blowing hard to right field. The hit was ruled a double and three runs crossed the plate.
Smith put the Sooners back into the ball game with a double hit deep to center field off the wall, his sixth of the year. The clutch-pinch hit plated Thornton and Russell Raley and all of a sudden, the three-run deficit was cut to one after the Sooners’ eighth.
The Sun Devils loaded the bases for the third consecutive inning in the bottom of the eighth and once again McCutchen fought his way through the trouble. Unfortunately, the Norman native took the loss for OU to fall to 1-2 on the year. McCutchen finished his relief appearance with 3.0 innings pitched, three earned runs, two walks and three strikeouts.
The Sooners’ record falls to 12-8 while the Sun Devils improved to 16-12.
OU will have one day off before traveling to Fort Worth, Texas, to battle No. 25 Texas Christian for a single game on Tuesday. The Sooners will then open Big 12 play on Thursday in Norman against No. 11 Texas A&M.