NORMAN, Okla., -- For the second consecutive day, the Sooners came from behind to defeat Northwestern State, 7-6, in dramatic fashion on Sunday at L. Dale Mitchell Park. Junior Ryan Rohlinger drove a pitch over the right field fence in the bottom of the ninth inning, with two runners on, to push the Sooners ahead 7-6 for the win.
Rohlinger finished the game with a 2-for-3 day that included three RBI and two runs scored. The junior also extended his hitting streak to ten games with the walk-off home run. In that span, Rohlinger is hitting .548 (23 hits) with 15 RBI and a .786 slugging percentage and has also collected two doubles and two triples. He leads the team in hits (29), batting average (.414), is second in RBI (19), and is tied for the team lead with 19 runs scored.
It was Rohlinger’s second walk-off homer as a Sooner with his first coming a year ago in head coach Larry Cochell’s 500th victory at OU. The two-run home run gave the Sooners a 7-5 win over Arkansas-Little Rock on April 27.
On Sunday, the Demons scored the game’s initial runs with three tallies in the second inning with OU starting pitcher Brad Burns on the mound. It marked the first time in the series that Northwestern State scored first in a game.
The Sooners were able to reduce the lead to two runs after Kyle Broughton walked four consecutive batters in the bottom half of the second to plate Rohlinger on freshman Jackson Williams' at bat.
After three and a half scoreless innings, OU narrowed the gap once again in the sixth frame on a no-doubt shot over the right field fence by freshman Kody Kaiser. He led off the inning with the bomb that brought OU within one run, 3-2, and he currently leads the team with four round trippers this season.
The seventh inning gave the Sooners their first lead of the game, 4-3, with a sac fly from Russell Raley and an RBI single by Kaiser. But the Sooners could not hold the lead with Will Savage throwing in the inning. Savage had a rough outing in 1.2 innings pitched that saw him allow three earned runs on three hits. NWLA’s Blake Jones doubled, with the bases loaded, and cleared the bags in the eighth as the Demons regained the lead.
After Raley grounded out to record the first out in the Sooners’ ninth, Kaiser (3-for-5, two RBI) came up with another clutch hit, a double to right center field. That was when things got interesting as Eric Thornton’s infield fly to the Demons’ third baseman became difficult to field because of the wind (20 mph) that had been blowing the ball hard throughout the game. The error on Hunter Thoms set the table for Rohlinger with runners on first and second and the game’s biggest hit came off a 0-2 fastball that produced Rohlinger’s three-run homer.
Daniel McCutchen earned his first victory of the season after coming out of the bullpen in the eighth inning. The right-hander allowed three hits and zero runs while striking out one Northwestern State batter. NWLA’s Daniel Desclouds relieved Broughton and took the loss to even his record at 1-1 on the year.
Northwestern State came to Norman after winning 11 of its last 12 games and included in that span were wins over No. 16 Mississippi and No. 19 Baylor. After dropping the series opener 13-10 in 12 innings, OU rallied in games two and three of the series with 15-10 and 7-6 wins.
OU improves to 12-5 after winning the series, 2-1, over visiting Northwestern State who fell to 15-7. The Sooners are now 10-1 at home and 4-1 during the current six-game home stand. The sixth and final game (in eight days) of the home stand will take place on Tuesday, March 15 at 3 p.m. against Dallas Baptist. OU will then travel to Tempe, Ariz., to take on Arizona State for three games starting on Friday.