NORMAN, Okla., -- The Sooner baseball team won its third straight contest, after starting the year 0-2, with a 10-7 victory over Eastern Illinois in game two on Sunday, Feb. 20 of a three-game set at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
Freshman Kody Kaiser led the Sooners’ offense against the Panthers. The Edmond, Okla., native was 3-for-5 on the day with two RBI and finished the game one single shy of hitting for the cycle.
OU received another stellar start from junior Steven Guerra who allowed four hits and an earned run in six innings worked. Guerra defeated South Alabama last weekend for OU’s first victory of the season and the righty won his second straight on Sunday courtesy of six strikeouts against Eastern Illinois.
“We swung the bats very well today,” said Oklahoma head coach Larry Cochell. “Steven Guerra pitched very well today. He kept the ball down today better than he did against South Alabama, so we were happy with that. P.J. (Sandoval) and Daniel (McCutchen) both struggled today but they will only get better as the season progresses.
“Despite the 19-3 victory yesterday, we told the kids today that there are no guarantees and you have to come out and play everyday. And I was pleased with our overall performance.”
Kaiser extended his hit streak to five games and the freshman is leading the team in hits (10) and batting average (.455). Senior Eric Thornton (2-for-5, RBI, three runs scored) and junior Russell Raley (1-for-4, 2 RBI, run scored) also extended their hitting streaks to five games. Kaiser grounded out to second base in his final at bat in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“Kody is capable of having this kind of day every time he comes out to play,” said Cochell. “He is one of those kids that every time he comes to the plate, you expect him to get a hit.”
In its five games this season, OU has managed to get on the scoreboard first in each contest with a 3-2 record. On Sunday, Kaiser started things off with a leadoff triple and scored after Raley grounded out to short. After Ryan Rohlinger singled and then stole second base later in the inning, Thornton gathered his first hit of the day and scored Rohlinger with a double down the right field line. Thornton would later score on junior Kevin Smith’s single.
Smith, who went 3-for-4 yesterday with five RBI, had another impressive day against Eastern Illinois. Smith collected three RBI in a 4-for-5 performance batting fifth in the Sooners’ lineup.
The three-run cushion was all Guerra would need as the pitcher threw six solid innings for OU en route to a season-high six strikeouts. In one stretch, Guerra retired eight consecutive Panthers (three strikeouts) and 12 of the last thirteen batters he faced.
Junior P.J. Sandoval would relieve Guerra in the top of the seventh inning and throw two innings before giving it up to junior Daniel McCutchen in the ninth. Sandoval, making his first appearance since the season opener, saw EIU score three runs (one earned) while he struck out two batters. McCutchen would see three more runs cross the plate during his time on the mound before closing out the game in a non-save situation. McCutchen recorded two strikeouts.
The series finale between OU and EIU will take place at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Monday at 3 p.m. The Sooners’ Brad Burns and EIU’s Mike Budde are expected to pitch in the contest as OU will look to sweep the series and win its fourth straight game.