LAWRENCE, Kan. -- It wasn’t easy but the No. 8 Oklahoma Sooners won their 12th consecutive game on Saturday, 11-9, over No. 30 Kansas with solo home runs by Kevin Smith and Jackson Williams in the tenth inning.
The extra-inning win gave OU a 1-0 lead in the series after Friday’s series opener was rained out. The second game of the series is scheduled for a 6 p.m. first pitch tonight.
The win moves OU’s overall record to 34-10 overall and 12-4 in Big 12 play, while Kansas, who entered the game in fourth place, fell to 31-17 and 9-10. The 12-game winning streak is the longest for the OU baseball program since it opened up the 1998 season with a 12-0 mark.
The Sooners pounded out 18 hits in the game (ties season high) and took an 8-0 lead after the top of the fifth inning, but the Jayhawks remained in the game with a three-run fifth inning. KU continued to chip away at the lead with three more runs in the seventh inning and tied the game in the bottom of the ninth on Gus Milner’s RBI single.
Starting pitcher Daniel McCutchen pitched good enough to earn his third consecutive victory with seven strikeouts in the game. But after 6 1/3 innings, the OU bullpen took over and allowed the Jayhawks to get back into the contest. John Brownell was charged with two earned runs after an inning of relief and Will Savage surrendered the game-tying run in the ninth inning.
Savage, who is 4-0 with four saves in his last nine outings, improved to 6-2 after he closed things out with 2 2/3 innings of work.
OU hit a season-high three home runs in the ball game but none were bigger than Smith’s, who led off the OU 10th inning with a solo shot (sixth of the season) to right field off the first pitch delivered by Paul Smyth (2-1). With two outs on the board, Williams provided some added insurance with another solo shot hit on the first pitch, this time to left field.
Kansas made things interesting in the 10th inning with the go-ahead run at the plate in the person of Ross Kelling. With runners on first and second, Kelling grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, the third turned by OU in the game, to end the threat.
For the Sooners, it marked the seventh time this season that they used their last at-bat to earn a victory, In addition, OU improved to 3-0 when playing in extra frames this year.
OU jumped on top early with two runs in the second frame. Ryan Rohlinger led off the inning with a single and was plated along with Russell Raley on Freddy Rodriguez’s two-run single.
Rohlinger put OU on top 4-0 with his team-leading seventh home run of the season and McCutchen cruised through the first three innings. After three innings, McCutchen held KU hitless and had four of his seven strikeouts of the game.
Russell Raley led the OU offense with a perfect 4-for-4 day at the plate, marking a career high for the senior from Uvalde, Texas. Jackson Williams continued to raise his batting average with three hits on the afternoon and three RBI. In his last two games, Williams has seven hits and five RBI.
For the Jayhawks, Jared Schweitzer and Preston Land each connected for sole home runs and finished with two hits and two RBI. Brock Simpson also drove in two runs on two hits.
Oklahoma and Kansas will resume the series at 6 p.m. on Saturday. OU’s Steven Guerra (8-1, 3.14 ERA) will throw opposite KU’s Ricky Fairchild (5-4, 5.18 ERA) and the game can be heard live on KOKC 1520 AM.