NORMAN, Okla. -- OU’s winning ways continued on Saturday at L. Dale Mitchell Park with a 3-1 victory over Texas Tech. The win marked the sixth consecutive for the Sooners, who are 9-2 in their last 11 games.
Aaron Ivey’s sacrifice fly in the fourth inning to left field proved to be the difference in the ball game, as the hit provided OU with a 2-1 lead.
Garrett Patterson turned in 5 2/3 innings for his sixth win of the year and Kevin Smith’s solo homer in the bottom of the sixth inning sealed the deal.
The Sooners are now 13-13 in Big 12 play and 32-22 overall while Texas Tech fell to 9-15 in conference action and 33-22 overall.
Patterson (6-2) along with OU’s two relievers, John Brownell and Will Savage, combined to face the minimum amount of batters faced over the final six innings. Savage nailed down his fourth save of the season, his third in the last three games.
OU scored the game’s initial run in the second inning after Smith doubled to left field and plated Eric Thornton. The Red Raiders countered immediately in their next at-bat on a Cameron Blair sacrifice fly to center field.
But that was all that Tech’s offense could muster as OU pitchers handcuffed the league’s third best hitting team, in terms of batting average in conference games (.306 entering the series), to two hits on Saturday.
OU hurlers have posted a 0.50 ERA in the 18 innings against the Red Raiders and have allowed four runs (one earned) off 10 hits and six walks. In addition, the staff has struck out 14 batters and held the Red Raiders to a combined .167 batting average over the two games.
Patterson won his second consecutive start on Saturday after previously defeating Oklahoma State on May 14. Against Texas Tech, the Sooners’ starter allowed just two hits, walked four and struck out three. After experiencing leg cramps in the sixth inning, in mid-90 temperatures, Patterson turned the ball over to Brownell. The reliever was perfect in his 2 1/3 innings tossed and it marked the first time in his last six appearances that he did not allow a run.
With a 3-1 lead, OU did what it has had the luxury of doing in the past couple of weeks--give the ball to Will Savage to secure the victory. Savage did not disappoint in his 11th appearance in OU’s last 12 games, striking out Carey Avants, who was 5-for-8 in the series entering the last at-bat. Savage has allowed just one run in his last eight appearances.
OU’s other star of the game, Kevin Smith, led all hitters in the contest with a 3-for-4 day that included two RBI and his fifth home run of the season. Smith is hitting .625 in the series (5-for-8) with a 1.250 slugging percentage.
Texas Tech’s Tanner McElroy (2-3) pitched the full eight innings and allowed the three earned runs on 10 hits and zero walks.
Today’s win accompanied with Oklahoma State’s 17-3 loss at Kansas on Saturday clinches the fifth seed for Oklahoma in the 2005 Phillips 66 Big 12 Tournament. The conference tourney begins on Wednesday, May 25 at the SBC Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.
The Sooners and Red Raiders will conclude the final series of the regular season on Sunday at 1 p.m. at L. Dale Mitchell Park, where OU is 23-5 this season. OU will throw RHP Brad Burns (2-1, 3.88) opposite lefty Dustin RIchardson (1-1, 5.52). The game will be the final game at L. Dale Mitchell Park for senior captains Eric Thornton, Jeff Scuderi and Matt Bose, who will be honored before the game.
Sunday’s game will also mark the second opportunity for OU to sweep a Big 12 series this season. The last time OU was in this position was on April 10 against Kansas, in Norman, but the Sooners dropped a 9-3 decision.