NORMAN, Okla. -- The No. 23 Sooners used their last at-bat to top visiting Centenary, 7-6, on Sunday at L. Dale Mitchell Park to complete the series sweep while extending their winning streak to seven games.
In eight lifetime meetings, all in Norman, the Sooners are a perfect 8-0 against the Gents. The Gents outhit the Sooners 13-11 after entering Sunday’s game with 14 hits in the two previous games of the series.
The win jumped OU’s overall record to 16-4 while Centenary fell to 7-11. In the past 30 years, only two other Sooner squads have had a better start to the season after 20 games. In 1981 and 1985, OU jumped out to a 19-1 start and in 1984 and 1998, the Sooners were also 16-4.
After the Gents scored four runs to tie the game up at six runs apiece in the eighth inning, OU loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth and Chuckie Caufield provided the heroics, singling through the right side of the infield to plate Kevin Smith, who led off the inning with a single.
“Centenary played extremely well today and you have to give them credit,” said OU head coach Sunny Golloway, who is 28-10 at the Sooners’ helm. “You could tell from the energy in their dugout, especially after they scored first, that this was their best chance in the series with an effective left-hander on the mound, I thought we did a good job because even though their hits were finding holes, our kids held tough throughout the game.
“Dropping a game today would have been tough after this team has worked real hard to get into the national spotlight and be ranked. But we got the win and went 4-0 this week. So hopefully we have put ourselves into a good position to face a challenging week before we open Big 12 action in two weeks against Baylor at home (March 24-26).”
Will Savage notched his first win of the season after battling through the eighth and ninth innings with three strikeouts. Savage entered the game in the eighth with the bases loaded and zero outs, but could not hold the Gents at bay. Savage took over for John Brownell, who was charged with three runs after an inning tossed, and surrendered four hits and one walk.
Cam Feightner (0-1) allowed the game winning run after taking over in the seventh inning for Centenary starter Johnny Noland. Noland was tagged for six runs off seven hits and three walks.
For the first time in the series, the Gents jumped out on top first after Torey Williams doubled in the second inning and then later scored on a RBI-single off the bat Alex Maldonado. The Sooners quickly countered in the bottom of the second inning with a pair of two-out singles by Freddy Rodriguez and Aaron Reza, who both crossed the plate after Smith doubled to left-center field.
Jimmy Baker brought Centenary within one run with his second homer of the season on a solo shot that cleared the fence in center field but OU once again countered and increased its cushion to four runs with a three-run seventh inning.
The scoring in the seventh was made possible by a pair of doubles, a walk and a single. Reza led off the frame with a double down the left-field line and was moved to second base after Smith walked. Joseph Hughes then moved both runners up with a perfect sacrifice bunt and Smith and Reza came home after Kody Kaiser doubled to left field. Caufield ended the big inning after bringing home Kaiser on his second hit of the game.
For the seventh time this season, Caufield led OU in hits with three and the right fielder was one of three Sooners to connect for two RBI in the game (Kaiser and Smith). Additionally, Kaiser, Reza and Smith all collected two base knocks in the game.
P.J. Sandoval was effective in his start for the Sooners on Sunday and left the game with a narrow 3-2 lead after six innings. Sandoval struck out three batters and allowed two earned runs off seven hits and a walk and got out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the fifth inning. Matt Webb had the opportunity with two outs but stranded three Gents with a pop out to Rodriguez at shortstop. Centenary and OU each stranded seven base runners in the contest.
Sunday’s game ended a stretch that saw OU play seven of eight games at L. Dale Mitchell Park. OU went 6-1 at home in that span and also won its lone road contest, a 10-5 decision over TCU on Tuesday. On the season, OU is 9-1 at home and 2-1 (5-2 at neutral sites) on the road.
Next up for the Sooners is a four-game stretch away from home, starting with a game at UT-Arlington on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Following the mid-week contest, OU will head to Tempe, Ariz., to battle No. 13 Arizona State. The Sun Devils are coming off a 3-0 weekend that saw them defeat Texas A&M (CC), Rice and TCU. ASU will also play in a mid-week game before facing OU. The Sun Devils travel to Austin, Texas on Tuesday to battle the No. 17 Longhorns.