NORMAN, Okla. -- OU continued its winning ways at home by defeating Kansas, 7-5, on Friday at L. Dale Mitchell Park to improve to 18-11 overall and 14-2 at home this season. The Sooners won the first game of the Big 12 series against Kansas to move to 4-3 in Big 12 play on the year With the win and Texas’ loss to Nebraska on Friday, the Sooners jumped to fourth place in the conference standings.
OU used a three-run fourth inning powered by a solo home run by Aaron Ivey, his first career bomb, and three Jayhawk errors to take a 5-0 lead and held on for the “W” despite allowing five runs over the final five innings.
Steven Guerra was once again solid in his third consecutive Big 12 start to improve to 4-2 overall (2-1, Big 12) as the right-hander went 7.2 innings. Guerra scattered four earned runs on seven hits while striking out four and walking one.
The Sooners wasted no time by posting the first run in the game’s initial frame on the first of two solo homers on the night, this time by Russell Raley. It was Raley’s first round-tripper of the season and just the Sooners’ 13th on the season. Ivey’s shot in the fourth inning gave OU its 14th home run of the season and all but one of those have come at home (Joe Dunigan against Gonzaga in the Coca-Cola Classic).
Before the big third inning, OU added a single run on Ryan Rohlinger’s RBI single to right-center field that plated Chuckie Caufield, who singled earlier in the third inning.
Matt Bose led off the fourth after reaching first base on an error by KU shortstop Ritchie Price and advanced to third on Jackson Williams’ single to right field. With Freddy Rodriguez at the plate, Bose came home after the Jayhawks starter, Mike Zagurski, threw a wild pitch giving the Sooners a 3-0 lead.
The fourth continued as Rodriguez was able to reach third base on a routine fly ball to right field that was dropped by A.J. Van Slyke, giving OU a 4-0 lead as Williams scored. However, Rodriguez did not score as an attempted squeeze bunt by Aaron Ivey backed fire with an unusual play at home. With Rodriguez moving as the pitch left Zagurski’s hand, he slid into home plate only to find the ball had bounced in front of the catcher allowing KU’s Sean Richardson to apply the easy tag. Unfortunately for Ivey, that set up his shot over the left field fence with no runners on base.
With OU cruising, Guerra retired 11 straight batters from the second inning through the fifth inning, after allowing a single to Van Slyke in the first inning. The junior struck out two in that span and left the game in the eighth inning after throwing 106 pitches (71 strikes) and striking out two of the frame’s first three batters.
John Brownell came out of the OU bullpen to make his 11th appearance of the season and the junior struggled allowing three hits in the 1.1 innings pitched. But Brownell got the job done keeping OU on top despite allowing KU to narrow the lead to two runs.
Kevin Smith, making his first collegiate start at first base, broke the game open in the seventh inning on a double down the left-field line, which scored Kody Kaiser and Matt Bose. The Sooners collected six extra-base hits in the game and were led by Raley, Caufield and Rohlinger, who all collected two hits apiece in the victory.
Kansas falls to 23-13 and 2-5 in Big 12 action and will throw (LHP) Sean Land, who is 3-2 with a 5.40 ERA this season, opposite OU’s Will Savage (3-3, 3.99 ERA) on Saturday. Game time is set for 2 p.m. and will be broadcast live on the Sooners’ flagship station KOKC 1520 AM, joined in progress after the OU softball game at Texas, with Chuck Kelly calling the play-by-play.