MANHATTAN, Kan. It was dj vu all over again Sunday at Tointon Family Stadium as the University of Oklahoma baseball team (26-21, 9-12 Big 12) defeated Kansas State (25-22, 8-16) 6-5 in the second consecutive extra-innings victory of the three-game series.
The Sooners were down to the Wildcats 4-1 entering the ninth inning before OU produced four runs from two clutch homers, taking a one-run lead into the final regulation frame.
“I said this yesterday, and I don’t want to repeat myself, but this was a big character game and this team arose to the challenge,” OU head coach Sunny Golloway said. “This team has gone through the type of adversity people write books about. Right now, it’s a short story, but they are turning it into a novel.”
Kevin Smith, in a pinch-hitting situation, drove a leadoff solo shot from KSU starting pitcher Adam Cowart over the left field fence to spark a Sooner rally that strangely resembled game two’s top of the eighth.
“Cowart really deserved a better fate,” Golloway said. “He was nothing short of super.”
Cowart pitched a career high 134 pitches in 8 1/3 innings of work. He gave up four earned runs on eight hits and struck out eight batters.
Two at-bats later, Freddy Rodriguez, who was 6-for-14 over the three-game series, singled up the middle and Matt Bose reached on a fielder’s choice, making next-at-bat Jeff Scuderi the go-ahead run.
Scuderi blasted a 2-2 pitch over left center, driving in three runs and putting the Sooners on top.
“It felt great to come off the bench and help lift the team like that,” Scuderi said. “Coach Golloway actually changed my batting plan just before that at-bat. I would normally take something inside, but I sat on those pitches and got a great pitch across the middle of the plate to drive.”
“That’s the type of thing you expect from a senior captain,” Golloway said, “and it’s great for Jeff to lead us both off the field and on the field like he did today.”
KSU’s Eric Eymann tripled off OU reliever P.J. Sandoval to lead off the bottom frame and was plated by Terry Blunt’s double.
Golloway pulled Sandoval in favor for Will Savage (7-3) who earned his second win in as many games, closing out the game with a hit batter as his only blemish.
“We would have preferred to protect (Savage’s) arm, but he’s turned into our closer,” Golloway continued. “We’ll definitely look to him to close for us the rest of the season.”
Ryan Rohlinger led off the 10th with the game-winning home run, giving him one round-tripper in each game of the series.
Savage sat the Wildcats down in order in bottom of the 10th, ending on a Josh Dent pop out to first baseman Eric Thornton, to preserve the Sooners second straight come-from-behind victory.
“The players on this team are exemplifying what college athletes are all aboutthe character, the camaraderie, the cohesiveness and the absolute will to never give up,” Golloway said. “They are doing something very special for the University of Oklahoma and collegiate athletics.”
OU returns to action Friday, May 13th, for the first game of the Bedlam Series against Oklahoma State at Drillers Stadium in Tulsa, Okla. The final two games, on Saturday and Sunday, will be played at Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.