April 20, 2011
NORMAN, Okla. -- The No. 11 Oklahoma Sooners posted a 5-2 victory over Bacone College on Wednesday at L. Dale Mitchell Park to snap a two-game losing streak.
The win improves OU’s overall mark to 27-11 (7-7 Big 12 play) as it prepares for a crucial three-game home conference series with Nebraska (25-14, 5-7) this weekend. The loss dropped Bacone to 13-33 in its first meeting with Oklahoma. Wednesday’s game was a makeup game for the contest rained out at Arkansas on March 29.
Despite the Sooners’ recent struggles, they still find themselves in the top half of the Big 12 standings and ahead of last year’s pace in league play. After 14 conference games in 2010, the Sooners were 6-8 after dropping a series-opener in College Station, Texas, to the Aggies. However, OU rallied with a 13-inning win on Saturday and a series clincher on Sunday to propel them on a hot streak to close out the year.
“We need to focus on getting better right now,” said OU Head Coach Sunny Golloway. “We were 6-7 last year, we’re 7-7 (now) and we can make a strong push and still, the team ran away (last year) you couldn’t catch, the team in first place (this year), we can catch.
“The disappointment over the weekend (against OSU) was compounded on Tuesday (against Dallas Baptist) and could have got worse tonight. We didn’t allow that to happen and that’s a good thing. We can wash this and go focus on Friday.”
The Warriors took an early 1-0 lead on OU starter Ryan Gibson and the Sooners off a trio of walks and an error on Caleb Bushyhead. Gibson could only record two outs before Steven Bruce relieved him in the first.
The Sooners tied up the game at one apiece in the third off Garrett Buechele’s team-leading 46th RBI of the season. Buechele’s single up the middle plated Erik Ross, who used a bunt single to lead off the frame and advanced to second on a passed ball and third on Caleb Bushyhead’s sacrifice bunt.
In the fifth, OU tacked on a pair of runs after Casey Johnson double to left to plate Ricky Eisenberg with two outs and then came around to score on Cameron Seitzer’s RBI single to center. Eisenberg extended his hitting streak to nine games with two base hits on Wednesday, his third straight multi-hit outing.
The Sooner offense’s string of five straight games with 10 or more hits ended on Wednesday, but the focus was placed on moving runners into scoring position and getting timely hits. OU received three key base hits with runners in scoring position to get the victory behind a strong outing by the Sooner bullpen.
“We’ve lost three of our last six games, and all three of those were one-run games,” said Golloway. “You can evaluate a lot of things that we can do different to find victory, but most important thing is, we have to have timely hitting. We wanted to force that issue (tonight).”
Bruce lasted a career high 6 1/3 innings in relief to improve to 1-0 with run allowed off seven hits and a walk. Another freshman, Cayle Shambaugh, tossed the final two frames of perfect baseball with three strikeouts to record his first save.
"The two freshmen threw really good and made up for the start on the mound, which wasn't very good," added Golloway.
The Sooners return to action this weekend and conclude the five-game home stand with Nebraska in a three-game Big 12 Conference series. Friday’s opener is slated for 6:30 p.m. at L. Dale Mitchell Park. Saturday’s first pitch is set for 2 p.m. while Sunday’s finale gets underway at 1 p.m.