NORMAN, Okla. -- For the third time in the last four games and the second straight day against Missouri, the No. 16 Sooners used their last at-bat in the ninth inning to earn victory, 7-6, in the series finale on Sunday at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
Ryan Rohlinger’s RBI single, with two outs, in the ninth inning plated Russell Raley to complete the three-game sweep and extend the Sooners’ winning streak to six games. Earlier in the frame, Chuckie Caufield (3-for-5, 2 RBI) homered to left-center field which brought home Aaron Ivey, who started the two-out rally with a single, to tie the game at six runs each.
Rohlinger finished the game 2-for-4 with an RBI and hit .538 during the three-game set against the Tigers.
Sunday’s victory completed the Sooners’ fourth sweep of the season, but first in Big 12 action. The win also moved OU’s overall mark to 28-10 overall and 8-4 in Big 12 play, while Missouri fell to 16-18 and 6-9.
Oklahoma has come from behind on 12 occasions this season and has used its last at-bat eight times to pull out a win. The Sooners rallied on Saturday in game two to post six runs in the ninth en route to an 8-6 win. The Sooners also won the series opener 6-4.
“I think the big key was the 3-1 count with Caufield (at the plate) and a runner on first,” said OU head coach Sunny Golloway. “He had the green light and sat on a 3-1 pitch in his wheelhouse and the ball left the yard. I think there’s a sense of destiny with this team.”
For the second time in the series, Missouri jumped on top early with a three-run first inning, highlighted by Derek Chamber’s two-run homer. The round tripper was the first of three for Missouri on the afternoon. The second came in the third inning off the bat of Jacob Priday as the Tigers built a 4-0 lead after three frames. The Missouri offense chased OU starter P.J. Sandoval out of the game after 2 1/3 innings, tying the hurler’s shortest outing the season (Feb. 5 vs. Lamar).
With Sandoval out, John Brownell came out of the Sooner pen to provide immediate relief with six solid innings, including a career-high eight strikeouts.
In the fourth, the Sooners cut the lead in half after Caufield doubled to lead off the inning and later scored on a ground ball hit by Kody Kaiser. Kaiser reached first base safely on a throwing error by shortstop Gary Arndt and moved all the way to third base on the next at-bat, a single by Rohlinger up the middle. The Sooners made it 4-2 when Kevin Smith drove in Kaiser on a ground out to second base.
The Sooners continued to chip away at the two-run lead in the next two frames. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Jackson Williams connected for his first long ball of the season, a solo shot to left field off Missouri starter Rick Zagone (4.2 IP) . In the next inning, Smith singled through the right side of the infield to plate Raley and tie the game at four runs apiece. For Smith, Sunday’s performance marked the 13th multiple-RBI game of 2006 and his seventh RBI of the Missouri series.
Missouri’s bats came alive after three consecutive scoreless innings and Hunter Mense provided the team’s third home run of the game with a two-run shot to right field in the seventh inning. The 6-3 lead appeared to be enough for the Tigers’ bullpen as the OU offense stalled in the seventh and eighth innings, stranding three base runners.
However, with Missouri’s closer on the mound, OU rallied once again with two outs. Taylor Parker (0-3) suffered his second blown save and defeat in as many days, giving up three earned runs off four hits and a walk in two thirds of an inning.
“Once he got on (Ivey), I was thinking home run,” said Caufield about his game-tying hit in the ninth inning. “I know you don’t want to be greedy, the object is just to get on base and keep the inning going. But I knew once I made contact it was gone. That’s a great feeling and a lot of momentum. This can take us a long ways.”
Nate Hammons also pitched two thirds of an inning out of the bullpen and improved to 2-0 with his second straight win. Hammons recorded his first career victory on Saturday after pitching the final two outs of the 8-6 Sooner victory.
OU will return to action this Tuesday to conclude the current five-game home stand against No. 3 Rice at 7 p.m.
Below is a look at the Big 12 standings after action on Sunday: