Sooners stay alive with win over Houston

Oklahoma held off a late charge by Houston to avoid elimination with an 8-6 win Saturday in Norman. The Sooners (41-20) will face TCU in an elimination game Sunday at 1 p.m. TCU lost to Wichita State 18-7 Saturday night. Senior third baseman Ryan Rohlinger (pictured above #7) drove in five runs against the Cougars. (Photo/Lisa Hall)

Norman, Okla. — The Oklahoma baseball team staved off elimination in the NCAA Baseball Regional in Norman by holding off Houston 8-6 on Saturday. The win kept the Sooners alive in the Regional and eliminated the Cougars, who went 0-2 in the Regional.

The Sooners will play TCU Sunday at 1:00 p.m. The Horned Frogs, who knocked OU into the losers bracket on Friday, lost to Wichita State 18-7 in the winners bracket game Saturday night. If the Sooners win their Sunday afternoon game, they would turn around and play at 7:00 p.m. Sunday night.

Senior righthander Steven Guerra set the stage for the Sooners pitching 5 1/3 innings of no-hit ball and putting zero's on the board for seven innings.

"I hope people around here will not take lightly what Steven Guerra did today," said OU head baseball coach Sunny Golloway. "It was a big stage for our program hosting a regional. Our backs were to the wall and he is facing a very good hitting team as they showed in the late innings. Early in the game he made it look easy and our hitters really fed off that.

"I don't know who we will pitch yet in game three," Golloway continued. "We are going to look at match-ups and see who we play, but I know Fred Corral (pitching coach) will put a warrior on the mound. I know whoever it is will have Daniel (McCutchen) and Steven right behind him cheering their buddy on because they are going to get another, whether it is Monday or next week."

Offensively, the Sooners came out much more aggressive than the night before against TCU, as sophomore leftfielder Kody Kaiser smacked a solo homerun over the right field wall to give the Sooners a 1-0 lead in the second inning.

In the top of the third, OU took advantage of a solo shot by senior first baseman Kevin Smith and three-run blast by senior third baseman Ryan Rohlinger to give the Sooners a 5-0 lead after three.

OU extended the lead in the 7-0 in the fourth inning thanks to a two-RBI single by Rohlinger that Jackson Williams and Chuckie Caufield.

But the Sooners weren't done. In the top of the eighth, Williams led off with a single and pinch-hitter senior Scott Rooker came through with two-out double down the left field line to score Williams all the way from first.

Guerra took the mound in the eighth with the Sooners on top 8-0, but could only get one more out. Isa Garcia's single was followed by a two-run home run by Matt Weston, his 16th on the year, followed by a solo-shot by Houston star Brad Lincoln, his 14th of the year, and all of a sudden it was an 8-3 game and Sooner fans were getting antsy.

Guerra left the game to a standing ovation from the partisan Sooner crowd of 1,835 fans. Senior Will Savage came into the game and despite giving up a walk and a single, his defense saved him with a 5-4-3 double play.

Savage wouldn't be so fortunate in the ninth, as Matt Farrington and Bryan Pounds singled in front of Jake Stewart's three-run homer, and all of a sudden we had a ballgame. Savage's day was done and senior John Brownell was called out of the pen.

Brownell came in throwing fastballs for strikes. He gave up only one hit while also striking out one to retire the final three outs and the Sooners had their victory.

Guerra was able to take advantage of a liberal strike zone by home plate umpire Travis Katzenmeier, which was something that Houston head coach Rayner Noble complained about after the game.

Coach Golloway said he is not who sure he will start Sunday afternoon, but his options appear to be senior P.J. Sandoval (6-5, 5.26 ERA), who has been the third starter all year or sophomore Brad Burns (0-0, 9.95 ERA), who was the third starter last season. Lefthander Nate Hammons (2-0, 5.06 ERA), who has not started a game this year and sophomore Ryan Mottern (3-1, 7.31 ERA) who has six starts as the mid-week starter, are also options.

If the Sooners face Wichita State in the 1:00 game, OU will throw the best pitcher out of the four who can hold base runners, and that would probably be Sandoval or Hammons. If it is TCU, it wouldn't be surprising if it was Burns who gets the start.

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