LINCOLN, Neb. The bats are back and the monkey is gone.
The No. 13 Oklahoma Sooners (38-16, 16-9 Big 12) got a much needed win, 3-2, over the No. 11 Nebraska Cornhuskers (38-13, 19-6 Big 12) at Hawks Field Friday night in game one of the final regular-season series for both teams.
Again, it was Chuckie Caufield batting in the go-ahead run as Oklahoma came from behind for the 18th time this season.
“I’m awful proud of our young men,” OU head coach Sunny Golloway said. “It was a hard-fought battle. It’s a good start for the weekend. We stepped up and played in a big way tonight.”
The Sooners were able to move runners around in the late innings, something that had escaped them during the Bedlam Series.
“We went from first to third really well on some base hits. Two guys (Ryan) Rohlinger and (Kevin) Smith did a great job of not hesitating when going from first to third. That’s what created the scoring opportunities to tie it up 2-2. Their closer came in, and he’s great, but Chuckie Caufield hit a fly ball and got the sacrifice run in.”
OU trailed 2-0 after five innings, but ended its 23-inning scoreless streak in the sixth frame to tie the score.
“I told the players after the game that if they thought they had a monkey on their backs, he ran away real quickly. They were playing their tails off, but just not getting any runs. As coaches we just kept encouraging them. What else can you do? We told them their ability would win this game for us and sure enough it did.”
The Sooners out hit the Huskers 11-9, four of which came in the two-run sixth inning, on the hottest night for baseball in Nebraska this year 89 degrees in front Haymarket Park’s 11th largest crowd all-time (8,252).
“These Nebraska fans they’re setting the bar for everybody in the country. They just know how to fill up a ball park. They’re not ugly to us. They cheer their team and it’s just a great environment.
Oklahoma State also won Friday to create a three-way tie for second in the conference standings.
“We played great baseball tonight. But we’ve got to play great baseball every day from here on out. All the way to Omaha.”
OU’s P.J. Sandoval will take the mound against Nebraska’s Tony Watson for Saturday’s game. First pitch is schedule for 2:05 p.m. The game will be televised on Cox Sports TV (channel 7 in Oklahoma City and 3 in Tulsa) in a same-day delay airing at 6:30 p.m.