NORMAN, Okla. -- Steven Guerra improved to 5-0 and Joe Dunigan provided two RBI as the Sooners cruised to their second consecutive victory, 7-4, over UC Riverside on Saturday at L. Dale Mitchell Park. No. 25 OU, which has won four out of its last five games, jumped to 11-4 overall, while UC Riverside fell to 9-7.
Dunigan powered the Sooner offense with his second two-RBI showing at the plate this season and Ryan Rohlinger, Jackson WIlliams, Freddy Rodriguez and Aaron Ivey all drove in solo runs to give the Sooners their fifth home win in six chances.
Guerra has been the Sooners most consistent pitcher in 2006. The Paso Robeles, Calif., native lasted six innings and fanned four batters on Saturday after allowing one earned run off eight hits and zero walks. Guerra has not allowed a walk in three of his outings this season and has lasted five or more innings in each of his five starts this year.
“I was proud of the way our team came back today and posted some runs on the board,” said OU head coach Sunny Golloway. “Steven (Guerra) was not locating his pitches like he has been all season long, but he still gave us six good innings and has been great for us all year.”
After a scoreless first inning, OU jumped out on top 1-0, thanks to Dunigan’s first RBI of the contest, a single up the middle which plated Kody Kaiser. The Sooners would build a 2-0 lead on Rohlinger’s third round-tripper of the season in the third inning, before the Highlanders scored their first run of the series in the fourth frame.
The Highlanders came into the weekend series averaging six runs a game but went 13 innings before scoring a run on OU. The UC Riverside drought against the Sooners ended when Kyle Barratt connected for the second UCR double of the fourth.
The Sooners quickly countered in the bottom half of the fourth inning on Dunigan’s second RBI of the game, a double to right-center field that missed clearing the wall by a foot. Jackson Williams scored on the play to give the Sooners a 3-1 lead and shortly after, Dunigan came home on a throwing error by UCR right fielder Aaron Grant. The error was the first of two mistakes for the Highlanders on the day.
Highlander starter Haley Winter (1-1) was chased out of the game after 4 2/3 innings. Winter gave up five runs, three earned, on eight hits and one walk. Pat Cassa was the only UC Riverside reliever used in the contest and tossed the remaining 3 1/3 with two earned runs off three hits.
Once Guerra left the game, UCR made things a little bit closer with three runs off the Sooner pen. OU was ahead 6-1 before the Highlanders tagged reliever Kevin Duke for one run in the seventh and Jimmie Rollins for two more in the ninth. Before Rollins entered the game in the ninth, John Brownell had worked a solid 1 1/3 that saw him limit UCR to zero hits.
The Sooners added solo runs in the fifth, sixth and eighth inning and connected for 11 base hits, marking the ninth time this season that the squad had 10 or more hits in a game, but just the first in its last four contests.
In the eighth inning, OU’s offense displayed its versatility by plating its fourth run of the season on a squeeze bunt. Ivey entered the game as a pinch hitter in the eighth and laid down a perfectly place bunt down the first base line, allowing pinch runner Scott Rooker plenty of time to score. The Sooners lead the Big 12 in sacrifices with 22 this season.
OU will look for its second sweep of the season (Western Illinois) and first ever against the Highlanders on Sunday in the series finale. OU leads the all-time series 5-3. First pitch at L. Dale Mitchell Park is scheduled for 1 p.m. and will feature OU’s P.J. Sandoval (2-1, 4.12 ERA) against UCR’s Taylor Bills (1-0, 0.96 ERA).