NORMAN, Okla., -- The Oklahoma baseball team battled through nine tight innings in Tempe, Ariz., on Friday and fell to Arizona State, 5-4. ASU’s Jeff Larish hit a solo shot in the bottom of the ninth over the right field fence to close out the game. The loss drops the Sooners to 12-6 on the season while ASU improves to 14-12.
It was a tough role reversal for the Sooners who in their last game won after Ryan Rohlinger’s walk-off homer ended the game, 7-6, over Northwestern State on Sunday.
The Sun Devils jumped out to an early lead after recording two runs in the bottom of the second and adding another run in the third off OU starter Steven Guerra.
Eric Thornton put OU on the board in the fourth inning with a RBI single to left field that plated Chuckie Caufield, who singled to lead off the inning. But ASU countered and regained its three-run lead with a single run in the bottom of the fourth frame.
The Sooners tied things in an unconventional way by posting three runs in the top of the fifth without a hit. After Freddy Rodriguez lined out to start the frame, Jackson Williams walked, Joe Dunigan was hit by a pitch, Chuckie Caufield was beamed and Russell Raley walked for the RBI to post the inning’s first run.
That was just the beginning as a wild pitch brought home Dunigan and that moved Raley and Caufield up tp second and third. Kody Kaiser then produced the inning’s third walk before Thornton hit into a fielder’s choice that allowed Caufield to cross the plate for Thornton’s second RBI of the game. An ASU error kept the frame alive but the Sooners could not capitalize and stranded three base runners.
It looked like OU would take their first lead of the ball game on a double down the right field line by Freddy Rodriguez. The hit would allow Ryan Rohlinger, who started on first after a single, to be sent home to take the lead. Unfortunately for the Sooners he was called out after first baseman Joe Persichina cut off Rocky Laguna’s (RF) throw that would eventually gun down Rohlinger, trying to score from first base.
Guerra lasted 5.1 innings of work in which he allowed four runs (three earned) on nine hits and two walks, while striking out three.
John Brownell came out of the OU bullpen and was impressive by retiring nine of the first ten batters he faced, including three strikeouts. The 11th ASU batter just happened to be the nation’s leader in home runs and Jeff Larish showed why by knocking the ball out of the yard on Brownell’s first delivery. Larish’s 10th bomb of the season was the Sun Devils’ first walk-off homer of the season.
Rohlinger provided a bright spot in the loss as he extended his hitting streak to 11 games. The junior is batting .522 during a streak that includes 24 hits and 15 RBI.
Thornton and Caufield each collected two hits and combined for all four of the Sooners’ runs as Caufield scored on both of Thornton’s RBI.
Brownell took the hard-fought loss for OU and the game moved his record to 0-1 this year while ASU’s Jason Urquidez improved to 4-2.
The two will continue the three-game series on Saturday with another 7:30 p.m. (CT) game that will feature a pair of left-handed hurlers, OU’s Garrett Patterson and ASU’s Erik Averill, as the projected starters.