NORMAN, Okla. -- The OU baseball team won its fifth consecutive game on the strength of junior Garrett Patterson’s seven-strikeout performance to defeat Western Illinois, 6-4, in game one of the series at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Saturday. Patterson struck out seven in 7.2 innings of work and allowed two runs on just four hits.
“I thought Garrett pitched a wonderful game today and that was very good to see,” said OU head coach Larry Cochell. “He pitched down in the zone and that is why he was so successful.”
The Sooners (5-2) also extended their streak of scoring first (seven straight games) on Saturday by posting the game’s initial run in the bottom of the third inning. However, unlike the last four contests, the OU offense did not get started again until late in the game, after WIU tied the game at one in the fourth inning.
After the Leathernecks scored in the fourth, Patterson went on to retire eight of the next 11 batters. He also retired at least one batter in each of the first five frames via the strikeout. Patterson (2-1) put together the longest outing of any OU starter this season, lasting 7.2 innings.
“The main thing I was trying to do was throw strikes and let my defense do the work,” said Patterson. “I just wanted to go out today and have fun. That has been the key to the season so far for me, especially since I have not been out on the mound that much in the past couple years. I just go out, try to throw strikes and have fun.
“I actually did not think I would start the season as a starter like I have been. But I am certainly enjoying it and I am ready to get Big 12 play started.”
For the second consecutive game, the Sooner offense put together six runs (OU scored six in series finale against Eastern Illinois) and it proved to be enough as junior Daniel McCutchen came out of the bullpen in the ninth inning to close the game and record his first save of the year. OU is averaging nearly eight runs (7.86) per game this season.
Freshman Kody Kaiser kept his bat hot after blasting a home run to right field in the bottom of the sixth inning. The two-run shot that scored Russell Raley gave the Sooners a 3-1 lead and in the next frame it was Raley again getting involved in the scoring. The junior roped a triple to right-center field that plated senior Matt Bose and junior Chuckie Caufield.
Just when it appeared that OU was going to coast to another victory, the WIU offense awoke and scored one run in the eighth inning and two more in the ninth before McCutchen closed the door by striking out the only two batters he faced.
Kaiser extended his hitting streak to seven games. The Edmond, Okla., native is leading the Sooners with a .419 batting average and also leads the team in homers (2) and is third with six RBI. Raley finished the game 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. The 2004 All-Big 12 First Team member is batting .345 this season and ranks second on the team with eight RBI.
Junior Cory Williamson recorded his first career RBI with OU and senior Jeff Scuderi accounted for the Sooners' run batted in. Scuderi pinch hit for Williamson in the seventh and placed a perfect bunt to complete a squeeze play that allowed Raley to cross the plate.
The loss dropped Western Illinois to 4-5 and senior Tim Navin took the loss for the Leathernecks, his first of the season. WIU is expected to throw senior ace Pat Kohorst (3-0) on Sunday against the Sooners' Steven Guerra (2-0).
Guerra has been solid for OU in both of his starts, giving up eight hits in 12 innings of work while allowing two earned runs and striking out seven. Kohorst has won nine straight decisions dating back to last season and has a 1.47 ERA. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m. at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Sunday. The series finale will take place on Monday at 3 p.m.