NORMAN, Okla. -- The Oklahoma baseball team (5-1) completed a three-game sweep of visiting Western Illinois (2-3) on Sunday at L. Dale Mitchell Park with a 9-1 victory in the series finale.
P.J. Sandoval (1-1) turned in another solid outing by the OU pitching staff after a shaky start last weekend versus Lamar. The senior hurler allowed zero runs and four hits over 5 2/3 innings pitched and gave way to Will Savage, who pitched three effective innings of relief, to record his second save of the season.
“This was a great outing for me and a nice way to bounce back from last week,” said Sandoval, who recorded a career-high five strikeouts in the contest. “I wanted to show everyone that I was capable of staying in the rotation and get right back out there next weekend.”
Sandoval and Savage received plenty of run support from the offense, a common theme this season. OU recorded its sixth straight game with 10 or more hits, led by Russell Raley, Ryan Rohlinger, Kevin Smith and Kody Kaiser who all had two hits on Sunday.
“P.J. showed a lot of maturity and the coaching staff was proud to see the determination from him to work the ball inside,” said OU head coach Sunny Golloway. “He was also able to work that breaking ball away and that made him very effective today.”
The Sooners scored nine runs, four in the eighth inning, to defeat the Leathernecks for the sixth consecutive game. OU owns a 6-1 advantage in the series after dropping a 5-4 decision to WIU in 2004. In the seven all-time meetings, OU has outscored WIU by a 70-23 count.
OU struck first with Smith’s two-RBI single in the bottom of the first, scoring Chuckie Caufield and Rohlinger, who both stole a base to move closer to home. The Sooners collected a season-high eight stolen bases in the game, led by Caufield’s three swipes.
In the third, Rohlinger blasted his first home run of the season, a shot over the right field fence, and Raley and Kaiser each connected on RBI singles in the third and fifth innings, respectively.
WIU starter Aaron Madill (0-1) was chased out of the game after five innings and five runs (four earned) off eight hits and two walks.
The Leathernecks tried to start a rally in the eighth inning after a Ryan Schmidgall solo home run, but Savage settled down to finish the game with three strikeouts over 3 1/3 innings tossed. Ryan Wadsworth led WIU with two of the team’s seven hits.
The Sooners countered in the bottom half of the eighth inning with four runs. Caufield started the eighth inning off after being hit by a pitch, before stealing second and third base, and was brought home off a Rohlinger single. A ground-rule double off Smith’s bat plated Raley and then Rohlinger and Smith scored as a result of two wild pitches by John Paul Shore.
Smith led all Sooners on Sunday with three RBI and leads the team with 10 this season, while Rohlinger, who leads the team with a .500 batting average, drove in two runs.
“There were a lot of positives today and we were able to execute both offensively and defensively,” added Golloway. “We are pleased with our start so far, but there will always be room for improvement. We will do a little bit of everything this week. We will hold a couple of intrasquads and really work on our fundamentals. This team is ready to go against some good talent next weekend.”
The Sooners resume action next weekend in the Rice Tournament in Houston, Texas against No. 5 Rice, No. 17 Long Beach State and Lamar.