April 15, 2012
NORMAN, Okla. -- Erik Ross tied a career high with four hits and Jonathan Gray recorded his third win of 2012 as Oklahoma completed a series sweep of Missouri on Sunday with a 5-4 victory.
It marked the final Big 12 series meeting between Oklahoma (22-14 overall, 7-8 Big 12) and Missouri (18-17, 3-9). The Tigers were swept by the Sooners for the first time since 2006 and will head to the Southeastern Conference for the 2013 season.
“If you don’t win today, you just gain one game in the Big 12 standings. When you’re 4-8 and that many games out, you can’t afford to lose games. We gained three games (this weekend).”
Missouri took the game’s initial lead for the third time in the series and plated two runs off Ben Turner’s double off OU starter Jonathan Gray in the third inning.
Oklahoma’s offense immediately countered in the home half of the third on Max White’s two-out RBI double to center field to plate Ross, who singled in Garrett Carey earlier in the frame. Ross finished 4-for-4 and had all but three of the Sooners’ hits on the afternoon.
“I’m just trying to be a little more aggressive and open up the whole field,” said Ross. “Those two-out hits are huge. It’s something you have to do if you’re gonna win games in the Big 12.”
In the fourth inning, OU took a 4-2 lead as Carey drove in Evan Mistich on a groundout to second base. Mistich tripled for the third time in his career and came around to score.
Jonathan Gray put together his third straight start of five or more innings and limited Missouri to two runs and five hits. Gray had six strikeouts in the game before he loaded the bases in the sixth inning. With two outs in the sixth, Gray gave way to Steven Okert, who ended the threat with the first of his three strikeouts.
Okert battled out of another bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning and stranded two Tiger runners in the eighth.
Caleb Bushyhead’s two-out double in the seventh inning gave OU an insurance run and a 5-2 lead.
Missouri starter Brett Graves did not make it out of the third inning after allowing the three runs and falling to 2-5 on the season.
The double by Bushyhead proved to be the difference as the Tigers clawed their way back into the game with two runs in the ninth off Okert, who was making his third appearance of the week and recorded his second save after 3 1/3 innings and three strikeouts.
Okert also got the save on Tuesday over No. 9 Arkansas, the win that started the current four-game winning streak.
“We really needed to sweep this one,” said Okert. “We’ve been working real hard during practice. The hitters did their job and the pitchers have been stepping up as well. Beating Arkansas gave us confidence, beating them was big for us, too.”
OU returns the trip to Oral Roberts on April 17 for a 6:30 p.m. game. The Sooners topped the Golden Eagles 5-2 in Norman on March 27. OU and ORU last met in Tulsa during the regular season in 2004, a 6-4 win for the Golden Eagles.
“In two weeks, we’ll go into Kansas. We’ll be one game below .500 and, well, winning a series on the road can get us even,” added Golloway. “That will be real important. Getting to the point where we can get back to .500 after the start we had is going to be a huge motivating factor. We have six games between now and then and we need to win those ballgames because they’re very important to our RPI.”