NORMAN, Okla. -- The Sooners scored in all but one inning on Tuesday at L. Dale Mitchell Park to easily defeat Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 21-8, in game one of the two-game set. Tyler Gooch recorded his first win of the season after pitching three innings of solid relief work that included zero hits, three strike outs and one walk for the right-hander from Bixby, Okla.
Junior (3B) Kevin Smith led the OU sluggers with a 3-for-6 performance that included a game-high three RBI. Eric Thornton, Jeff Scuderi, Ryan Rohlinger, Freddy Rodriguez and Matt Bose produced two RBI each and combined for nine hits.
OU’s Jared Freeman made his first collegiate start but only lasted three innings after allowing three runs (one earned) on five hits. Gooch came out of the Sooners’ bullpen in the fourth and Don Powers (first appearance of the season) closed things out with 2.2 innings thrown.
“We wanted to go with some guys that had not pitched that much this year,” said OU head coach Larry Cochell. “We started Jared Freeman and that was his second time out this year. It was also Don Powers first time out and Tyler Gooch has only seen four appearances. So our goal was to get our young guys some time and see what they needed to work on and we were able to do that.”
OU started things off with four runs in the first frame after a couple of singles by Thornton and Rohlinger. With today’s 3-for-6 performance, Rohlinger extended his multi-game hit streak to five straight. In those five games, the junior has produced 13 hits, four RBI and is batting .542 with a .667 slugging percentage.
The Sooners continued to pour on the runs with two in the second, one in the third and eight in the fourth inning. Arkansas-Pine Bluff rallied in the second and third inning to narrow the Sooner lead to three runs (6-3) but that was the closest the visitors would get.
It was in the fourth inning that the Sooners batted around the lineup and produced the big inning, eight runs on seven hits. Russell Raley reached base twice in that inning and extended his hitting streak to 13 games after going 1-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI in the game.
The Golden Lions managed to keep the Sooners scoreless in the fifth inning and OU held a 13-run advantage (15-2) after five innings of action.
Not only was OU racking up a season high in hits (20) against the Lions but it was also able to run whenever it needed to put runners in scoring position. The Sooners stole a season-high five bases on Tuesday and two of those belonged to Chuckie Caufield who stole home on a successful double-steal attempt in the first inning.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s Bryant Gardner took the loss after starting the ball game and lasting 3.1 innings and allowing 13 runs (8 earned) on 11 hits. The win snaps a two-game losing streak for OU as it improves to 9-4 this season while the Lions fall to 2-17.
Oklahoma and Arkansas-Pine Bluff return to action for the final game of the series on Wednesday, March 9. First pitch is slated for a 3 p.m. start at L. Dale Mitchell Park.