Sooners Take Game One 9-2

NORMAN, Okla. – OU players were joking around in the dugout and had a little more fun giving autographs to little kids lined up along the third base line or to a couple screaming a player's name from the other side of the dugout.

They even had an extra spring in their step after the No. 11 Sooners defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers 9-2 at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Friday.

Being upbeat isn't unusual after a conference win, but something felt different.

This team had more energy and more fun Friday than it had at any point of the season, including during the 16-game winning streak to start the year, said head coach Sunny Golloway.

"That is the most passion and that is the most fire [we have played with]," Golloway said. "Baseball was fun tonight. We came out with a lot of energy, and I think it showed in our performance.

"Today was the first day we played with a passion that we haven't had, and it felt like last year."

Feeling like last year and a step in the right direction was the case, but the Sooners had to receive a tough message to play like a College World Series-caliber team.

Golloway openly called his squad a bad team with entitled players, and the Sooners (28-11, 8-7 Big 12) had a team meeting Friday afternoon to address the ongoing issue for possibly the final time.

"Honestly, everything about it was positive," Golloway said. "Everything about Sooner baseball was positive."

OU pounded five Nebraska pitchers for 15 hits and jumped out to a five-run lead before senior pitcher Michael Rocha allowed a base runner.

Junior third baseman Garrett Buechele got things going with an RBI single in the first and another in the third before junior catcher Tyler Ogle, who was named the Big 12 Player of the Week and the National Hitter of the Week on Monday and Tuesday, blew the game open with a three-run homer to cap a four-run third.

The only struggle Rocha faced all night was in the fourth inning after his offense amassed a 5-0 lead.

He gave up a single to start the inning and with one out he allowed back-to-back doubles that plated the Cornhuskers' only two runs.

With the lead cut down to three and with runners on the corners, the two-time Big 12 Pitcher of the Week had to make a pitch to stop the bleeding before Nebraska could take control of the game.

And that's exactly what Rocha did.

He got a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning, the threat and any hope the Cornhuskers had of making a comeback.

"There comes a point in every ballgame where they're going to attack, and that was their strike," said Rocha, who threw a career-high 123 pitches, struck out five and recorded his third complete game of the year. "What I tried to do was basically minimize it and get us back on offense and score more runs. Today they were hitting really well. So, all we needed was to minimize the damage and get them back on offense."

The complete game was Rocha's fourth of his career.

The Sooners added a run in the fourth on Buechele's third RBI in as many at-bats and three in the fifth on a series of base hits and defensive errors to put the game away.

Getting the victory after probably the most important team meeting is always a positive thing both for the team's morale and momentum going into the rest of the season, but Golloway has made that speech before.

The only question remaining is will the message stick?

"I think everybody in uniform was all in tonight," Golloway said. "I think regardless of where we were or what you were asked to do, I think everybody was all in. I just felt that anybody we asked to come in tonight was going to do a good job because everybody was locked in. Our players were ready to go."

Everyone will see if the message stuck for more than just the 24 hours following the meeting as the Sooners will be going for the much-needed series victory at 2 p.m. Saturday.

"The message was clear: stop losing and go out and win some ballgames," Ogle said. "That's what we did tonight. Everyone's got to get on the same page. Everyone's got to pull for this team and not worry so much about individual stuff.

"It did get through today. We'll see if it continues to get through the rest of the season."

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