NORMAN, Okla. -- The No. 10 Sooners (44-21) and their four-game winning streak came to an end in game one of the NCAA Houston Super Regional against Rice (54-10) on Saturday at Reckling Park. The Owls connected for four home runs en route to a 10-4 victory.
Despite back-to-back RBI doubles by Rohlinger and Kevin Smith in the seventh inning, the Sooners’ bid for their 20th comeback victory of the season was ended with a three-run seventh by the No. 1 Owls. Rice’s big inning was led by a pair of home runs and a double, giving their offense seven extra-base hits on the night.
Rice jumped out on top early, with back-to-back home runs by Brian Friday (three-run) and Josh Rodriguez (solo) in the first inning off OU starter Steven Guerra (11-4). Guerra lasted 1 2/3 innings (second shortest outing of the year) and allowed six earned runs on six hits.
Down 4-0, the Sooners responded in their second at-bat with a pair of runs thanks to a RBI-single off the bat of Joseph Hughes and a fielding error by the Rice shortstop.
In the second frame, Aaron Reza walked with two outs and Jackson Williams was hit by a pitch, leading up to Hughes’ single through the right side to collect his seventh RBI of the NCAA Tournament (had 12 before the postseason began). The next batter, Chuckie Caufield hit a ball hard to the six-hole and the Owls’ Friday could not handle it as Williams raced home to bring the game within two runs, 4-2.
The Owls’ offense continued to roll in the bottom half of the second inning, Tyler Henley and Greg Buchanan provided consecutive RBI singles to increase the Rice lead back to four runs.
The four-run lead was all Eddie Degerman (13-1) needed, as he tossed 6 2/3 innings and struck out eight batters to defeat the Sooners for the second time this season (Feb. 17).
Rice added a run in the fourth inning off a sacrifice fly by Friday and its offense connected for three more runs in the seventh on Aaron Luna’s solo home run and Danny Lehmann’s two-run shot.
Rohlinger led the Sooner offense with a 3-for-5 performance at the plate. John Brownell (3 1/3 IP), P.J. Sandoval (1 IP), Nate Hammons (1/3 IP) and Jimmie Rollins (1 2/3) finished the game out of the pen.
The teams will resume action on Sunday at noon at Reckling Park in game two of the best-of-three series. The game, which will pit OU’s Daniel McCutchen (9-8, 4.00 ERA) against Rice’s Bobby Bell (8-0, 3.67 ERA), will be seen live on ESPN in the state of Oklahoma and can be heard live on KOKC 1520 AM.
OU’s four-game winning streak came to an end as it dropped to 44-21 on the season and 65-57 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. The Sooners, in the middle of their 30th trip to the NCAA postseason, made their first appearance in an NCAA Super Regional on Saturday.
With a single in the first inning, senior Ryan Rohlinger extended his season high hitting streak to nine games. In that span, Rohlinger is 20-for-37 (.541). In addition, Rohlinger’s double in the seventh inning, which plated Russell Raley, was his 11th RBI of the NCAA Tournament. Rohlinger is hitting .556 during the Sooners’ six tournament games.
Junior Joseph Hughes put OU on the board in the second inning with a RBI-single, scoring Aaron Reza from second base. The RBI was the seventh of the NCAA Tournament for Hughes, who had 12 RBI before the tournament began.
Sophomore Aaron Reza committed his first error of the season in the sixth inning on a grounder by Danny Lehmann. It was the shortstop’s first error in 219 chances.