NORMAN, Okla. -- Trailing 11-10 heading into its final at-bat, the No. 16 OU baseball team received a little help from TCU first baseman Chad Huffman, as he kicked a potential game-ending ground ball into foul territory and allowed two Sooners to cross the plate for the 12-11 victory on Tuesday at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
Huffman finished the game 2-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI, but committed a crucial error in the ninth on Russell Raley’s grounder to first base, allowing Aaron Reza and Freddy Rodriguez.
Chuckie Caufield (3-for-5) and Kevin Smith (1-for-5) each drove in three runs to help Will Savage improve to 5-2 on the year. In his last four outings, Savage has recorded three wins and a save.
OU improved to 25-10 overall with the win and TCU fell to 19-16. The Sooners have won four consecutive games against the Horned Frogs, including a 10-5 victory earlier this season (March 7) in Fort Worth.
After TCU took a 5-1 lead in the top of the second inning on Huffman’s first home run, a three-run shot to left field off OU starter Brad Burns. OU countered immediately in its next at-bat with a six-run second inning. The big inning came courtesy of five hits in the frame. The first two runs of the second came off Chuckie Caufield’s two-run single. The remainder of the scoring came with two outs, a common trend this season for OU (43 percent of OU’s RBI this season, heading into tonight, have come with two outs). Kody Kaiser singled to left field to plate Caufield and Kevin Smith homered to left field as OU took a 7-5 lead.
The Sooners increased their cushion in the third inning with three more tallies, but the Horned Frogs rallied. TCU chipped away at OU’s lead with a single run in the fifth inning and three more runs in the seventh cut the lead to one (10-9). Corey Steglich came up to the plate in the top of the ninth and delivered a clutch two-run homer with two outs off Savage to put TCU ahead for the first time in the game (11-10) since the second inning.
In the Sooners’ ninth, Rodriguez led off the frame with a single through the right side of the infield and Reza, pinch hitting, singled down the left field line to give OU runners at first and second with nobody out. That brought up another pinch hitter, Scott Rooker, who laid down a sacrifice bunt to move up the runners. At that point, TCU rolled out its sixth pitcher of the night, weekend starter Jake Arrieta (7-3). The ace of the staff delivered immediately with a strike out of Joseph Hughes but then intentionally walked Caufield to load the bases and set the stage for Raley.
For the Sooner pitching staff, Burns lasted 1 2/3 innings in his first start of the season and just his second appearance of 2006. John Brownell was effective in relief surrendering one run off five hits in 4 1/3 innings. OU also threw Jimmie Rollins (three runs) and Matt Lovelady before Savage entered in the seventh inning with two outs.
Besides Caufield, Kaiser, Brandon Moss and Ryan Rohlinger each contributed two hits in the ball game to give the Sooners 15 hits overall. TCU connected for 17 base hits but fell victim to OU who is 19-2 this year when recording double-digit hits. OU also scored in double digits for the 11th time this season on Tuesday night.
Next up for the Sooners is a three-game set against Missouri over the weekend at L. Dale Mitchell Park. Saturday’s game will mark the Sooners’ fourth televised game of the 2006 season. OU and Missouri can be seen on Fox Sports Southwest (OKC Ch. 37) on April 15 at 3 p.m.