OU Tops Missouri with Ninth-Inning Rally

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
APRIL 15, 2006

NORMAN, Okla. -- For the 11th time this season, the No. 16 Oklahoma baseball team rallied from behind to pull out an 8-6 victory on Saturday over Missouri at L. Dale Mitchell Park in front of 1,042 fans and a regional television audience (Fox Sports Southwest).  The Sooners also won for the seventh time this season with their last at-bat courtesy of six runs, with two outs, in the final frame to top the Tigers and clinch the three-game series (OU won 6-4 on Friday).  The comeback was highlighted by Kevin Smith’s first career walk-off home run, a two-run shot to left-center field.

OU (27-10, 7-4 Big 12) will take its five-game winning streak into Sunday’s 1 p.m. series finale, while Missouri (16-17, 6-8) will look to end its current eight-game skid.

Box Score | Photos | Schedule2006 Cumulative Stats

“Missouri did a great job again today of revealing our starting pitcher,” said OU head coach Sunny Golloway.  “Their plan was to fight and expose our starters and get into our bullpen.  Fortunately for us, they only knocked around our bullpen a little bit and didn’t knock us out. 

“We just had to keep it close and we thought we had another punch in us.  Missouri had us on the ropes but they didn’t knock us out.”

The Sooners’ three, four and five hitters (Kody Kaiser, Ryan Rohlinger and Kevin Smith) combined for seven hits and seven RBI as Oklahoma recorded its 22nd game with 10 or more hits this season. 

Nate Hammons set things up and pitched a perfect two thirds of an inning in the ninth to earn his first career victory.  Despite Hammons’ effort, Missouri increased its cushion to 6-2 before David Cales gave way to Taylor Parker (0-2) in the bottom of the ninth to try and earn the save.

The OU ninth started with a one-out walk to Jackson Williams.  After Aaron Ivey moved Williams to second base on a single through the left side of the infield, Chuckie Caufield was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Williams scored during Kaiser’s at-bat on a passed ball.  Immediately after, Kaiser doubled  to left-center field and the flood gates opened.  After Rohlinger tied things up at six runs apiece with a double down the left-field line off Parker, Smith followed with his team-leading 40th and 41st RBI of the season.  Last year, Smith drove in 42 runs in 61 games.

The three-hit, three-RBI performance marked the 12th time this season that Smith has connected for multiple RBIs in a game.  Rohlinger (34 RBI) also finished the day with three hits and Kaiser drove in three runs.

“As soon as I hit the ball I knew it was gone,” said Smith about his fifth home run of the season.  “He hung a curve ball over the plate and I was just trying to drive it deep into the gap.”

OU starter Steven Guerra and the Sooners jumped out to an early 2-0 lead with a sacrifice fly by Kaiser and a RBI double by Smith in the first inning and it appeared that Guerra was headed for his ninth win of the season. 

However, Missouri countered with a three-run fourth inning to take its first lead of the game, 3-2.  Jacob Priday (2-for-4, 2 RBI) drove in a RBI single in the fourth and Trevor Helms (2-for-3, 2 RBI) connected for a two-run single and the Tigers held the one-run advantage until the eighth inning. 

Guerra lasted seven innings and surrendered three earned runs off seven hits and three walks.  Guerra also struck out five Tigers opposite MU starter Aaron Crow.  The freshman tossed six innings and allowed two earned runs off six hits and one walk.

Oklahoma and Missouri will conclude the series on Sunday at 1 p.m.  The Sooners will be looking for their third three-game series sweep of the year, but first in Big 12 play.  The Sooners will start P.J. Sandoval (5-1, 4.78 ERA) on the mound opposite Missouri's left-handed pitcher Rick Zagone (2-1, 4.12 ERA).

Below is a look at the Big 12 standings after action on Saturday:

Team Big 12 Overall
Texas 12-2 27-12
Nebraska 10-2 28-5
OKLAHOMA  7-4 27-10 
Baylor 7-8 22-15
Texas Tech 6-7-1 25-14-1
Oklahoma State 5-6 21-11
Kansas 6-8 24-15
Missouri 6-8 16-17
Kansas State 3-8-1 23-9-1
Texas A&M 3-12 19-20







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