WACO, Texas -- The Sooners got a much needed boost of confidence on Saturday at Baylor Ballpark with a 5-2 victory over No. 15/17 Baylor.
Kevin Smith and Freddy Rodriguez produced RBI singles in the sixth inning to give OU a 4-1 lead and that helped Brad Burns (2-0) record his first decision in over a month. The freshman threw five innings of no-hit ball before leaving the game with a sore shoulder.
John Brownell was also solid on the Sooners’ mound, as he pitched his way to his second save of the season with two innings of spotless relief. Brownell retired all five of the batters he faced and recorded one strike out.
Baylor’s ace, Mark McCormick, could not hold the Sooners’ offense at bay as the hard-throwing righty fell to 3-2 on the season after surrendering three hits, five walks and four runs (two earned) in 5.2 innings.
A day after recording a season low of four hits, OU came back to collect just six hits on Saturday but in a timely variety. A couple of the Sooners’ hits pressured the Baylor defense into a season-high five errors that proved to be the difference in the game. The Bears finished Saturday with four hits.
Rodriguez was 1-for-4 with two RBI (game high) and made a couple of fine defensive plays to lead OU to its second road victory of the season (2-5).
OU has played six of its last seven games against ranked opponents and has fared well with a 5-2 mark. Both losses came in the opening games of a series, one against Texas A&M and the other last night to Baylor.
The Sooners got things started on a fielder’s choice off of Rodriguez’s bat that allowed Eric Thornton to score in the second inning. Thornton reached base after recording the game’s first hit on a single to right field.
Baylor came back in the bottom of the third inning to tie things up after Josh Ford collected a RBI on an infield ground out that plated Paul Witt.
Outside of the one earned run, Burns kept the Bears’ offense silent during his time on the mound as the freshman right-hander left the game after five innings without allowing a hit. Burns will be further evaluated when the team returns to Norman. The hurler walked three and struck out four Bears in his sixth start and eighth appearance of 2005.
Before Burns exited the ball game, the OU offense provided him with its second lead of the game, following a three-run sixth inning off two hits and two walks. Burns only other decision of the season was a win on Feb. 21 versus Eastern Illinois.
Similar to the runs scored by the Sooners on Friday, the three runs scored in OU’s sixth frame on Saturday took place with two outs. After Ryan Rohlinger and Thornton walked, Smith and Rodriguez produced back-to-back RBI singles to give OU a 4-1 lead. Smith scored the fifth run of the game after McCormick committed a throwing error on Rodriguez’s single.
The OU bullpen polished the game off for Burns as Daniel McCutchen made his first appearance since the March 24 game against Texas A&M. McCutchen struck out his first batter, but lost the Sooners’ bid for their second combined no-hitter of the year (March 9 vs. UAPB) when Ford singled to right field in the sixth.
The reliever went on to retire six of the first seven batters he faced, four via a strike out, before allowing three consecutive singles in the seventh inning with no outs. After one run scored on his watch, McCutchen was taken out of the contest and Brownell came out of the Sooners’ pen.
With no outs on the board and runners on first and second, Brownell received some help from his defense on a line drive to Rodriguez that allowed him to double up the runner on second base. The damage in the seventh inning was halted as Brownell then forced the ground out to end the inning and keep OU ahead for good, 5-2.
OU jumps to 17-10 overall and 3-2 in Big 12 play while Baylor falls to 18-11 and 5-3. The series will conclude on Sunday at 2 p.m. in Waco, Texas. The rubber game will be broadcast live on KOKC 1520 AM with OU’s Will Savage (3-2) throwing against BU’s Cory VanAllen (4-2).