Oklahoma CITY, Okla. – After searching desperately for a lucky bounce or an opportune hit the night before, the Oklahoma Sooners finally got one late Sunday afternoon.
Having recorded just a single two-out hit in Saturday’s series-ending loss to Oklahoma State, the Sooners watched second baseman Kolbey Carpenter’s line drive sink into shallow center field and fall dangerously close to the hard-charging mitt of Ryan Sluder for the final out of the inning.
But it fell just out of reach – the sort of kind break that elude Oklahoma through the first two games of the series. Catcher Anthony Hermelyn quickly capitalized with a two-out home run that just barely cleared the wall in left-center field.
After losing a pair of leads early in the game, Oklahoma finally held on to its last one at the Bricktown Ballpark for a 5-3 victory that helped the Sooners avoid the first regular-season sweep by their Bedlam rivals since 2007.
“It’s contagious when it’s going good, and it’s contagious when it’s going bad,” said Oklahoma coach Pete Hughes, who told his wife that Sunday was a must-win game. “. . . You don’t get caught up in the ebb and flows of each game. You get caught up in trying to win each inning. That’s what we do when we’re going good.
“It’s tough to get in that place mentally when you’re going bad. It was big. We needed a big hit. We got it, especially with two outs.”
The No. 25 Sooners (30-21, 11-7 Big 12), who surpassed last season’s win total with the victory, snapped a season-long, five-game losing streak.
Before the two-out rally in the seventh inning, Oklahoma had knocked just two balls out of the infield since the second inning. Before Hermelyn’s home run, the Sooners hadn’t recorded an RBI on a hit – all three previous runs came on infield groundouts.
“You just have to stay clam and relaxed and believe that it’s going to go your way eventually,” said Hermelyn, who knocked in four of the Sooners’ five runs. “Keep playing hard, and play Oklahoma style baseball – hustle out everything, keep playing hard. The baseball gods will reward you.”
Oklahoma, which is currently third in the Big 12, is off for almost a week before opening a Big 12 Conference series against Kansas State in Manhattan, KS on Friday night. The Sooners close the season with a series against conference-leading TCU, who beat Oklahoma earlier this season in a mid-week, non-conference game.
“Losing five in a row is pretty tough,” Oklahoma second baseman Kolbey Carpenter said. “I think it just helped us to get back on track, and hopefully gain some momentum going into this next series. Hopefully, we can play better these next two weekends and get some wins.”