OXFORD, Miss. -- Oklahoma (34-25) suffered a hard fought loss, 7-3, to No. 1 seed Mississippi (46-18) in day two of the NCAA Oxford Regional at Oxford-University Stadium on Saturday.
The Sooners advanced to Saturday’s action after defeating the No. 2 seed Southern Miss on Friday, 5-4. OU will now play in the elimination round of the NCAA Regional and face the No. 4 seed Maine at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Ole Miss will await the winner of that game to play for the regional championship at 5 p.m.
Mark Wright’s two-run homer in the sixth inning gave Ole Miss a 4-3 lead and Alex Presley’s three-run shot in the ninth inning gave the Rebels plenty of insurance to advance to Sunday’s championship game.
OU did manage to bring the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning, with one out and the bases loaded, but was unsuccessful in the comeback attempt. The Sooners stranded 11 base runners to the Rebels’ nine on Saturday.
Russell Raley, Kody Kaiser and Chuckie Caufield led OU with two hits apiece.
The host Rebels took an early lead with a run in the first inning off OU starter Steven Guerra (5-6). Chris Coghlan scored the game’s initial run on a RBI double off of Stephen Head’s bat. The game went scoreless for the next two frames until Ole Miss padded its lead with a single run in the fourth on Mark Wright’s RBI double.
The Sooners, down 2-0 after 4 1/2 innings, took their first lead of the game with three runs on three hits in the fifth frame. Chuckie Caufield led off the inning with his second dinger of the year, a long ball that cleared the fence in left-center field. Kody Kaiser followed with a single and moved to second on the intentional walk issued to Ryan Rohlinger. After Rohlinger moved into scoring position and Kaiser to third base on Eric Thornton’s groundout, Raley came up to the plate.
Raley missed the last six starts due to a stress fracture in his right foot and started on Saturday for the first time since breaking a streak of 111 consecutive appearances in OU’s starting lineup. The second baseman made the most out of the opportunity by driving in two runs on a single up the middle in the fifth. Raley finished the day with two hits, two RBI and a stolen base.
The 4-3 advantage for OU did not last long as Wright helped Ole Miss regain the lead with his homer in the sixth off Guerra. The two-run homer took the Sooners’ starter out of the game and opened the door for John Brownell to pitch strong out of the Sooners’ pen.
Guerra pitched five innings of six-hit ball and gave up four earned runs, while walking three and striking out one. Brownell held Ole Miss scoreless for 2 2/3 innings before giving the mound up to Will Savage. The dependable closer made his 16th appearance in OU’s last 17 games but was unable to keep OU close, giving up a three-run homer to Presley in the ninth.
Matt Maloney allowed all three of OU’s runs but pitched effective enough to improve to 8-2 after five innings of work. Stephen Head came in to record his seventh save of the year with four innings of solid relief.
The Sooners’ game versus Maine on Sunday at 1 p.m. can be heard on KOKC 1520 AM with Chuck Kelly calling the play-by-play. Fans that are attending the game can hear the Sooners’ broadcast on 96.3 FM inside the stadium in Oxford. The game can also be seen on the University of Mississippi’s official athletic site, www.olemisssports.com.
Ole Miss leads the all-time series with OU, 3-2. Before Saturday’s contest, OU and Ole Miss last met back in 1995 and the Sooners defeated the Rebels, 6-5 ... Twenty-two of the Sooners’ 44 homers this season have come in the last 16 games (all under interim head coach Sunny Golloway) ... Kody Kaiser extended his hitting streak to seven games ... Kaiser has hit safely 14 of the last 15 games and is OU’s leading hitter in the postseason with a .368 average (7-for-19) in four postseason games.