Sooners fall to Rice in Game 1, 10-4

Top-ranked Rice (54-10) belted 14 hits and four home runs to take a 1-0 series lead with a 10-4 win over Oklahoma (44-21) Saturday night in Houston. The Owls scored four runs in the first and two in the second inning off of Sooner starter Steven Guerra and never looked back. The Sooners and Owls will meet in Game 2 at 12 p.m. Sunday. (AP Photo)

"The disappointing side of it for us is that we could not hold their bats down," said OU head coach Sunny Golloway. "We gave them four balls on the middle inner thirds, which they could pull into the wind. And I don't think our offense had one pitch on the middle inner thirds that we could get really lifted like that.

"Tomorrow, we have to come out and do a better job and we have to pitch.

Rice jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning, but the Sooners battled back with two in the top of the second. However, the Owls knocked Guerra out with two in the second to extend the lead to 6-2.

The Owls would add one in the fourth off of OU reliever John Brownell, but OU responded with two in the top of the seventh to cut the lead to 7-4 and knock Rice ace Eddie Degerman out of the game. But once again, the Owls bounced right back and added three runs in the bottom of the seventh to put the game away.

Degerman, who picked up the win to improve to 13-1, gave up four earned runs. But the fourth round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals also struck out eight Sooners. Rice reliever Bryce Cox was impressive in 2.1 innings of relief giving up just one hit and striking out four.

"Eddie Degerman is outstanding," Golloway said. "The first thing I told coach (Wayne Graham) after the game was thank goodness that we do not have to see him again. Twice in one year is two times too many for me.

"I really thought Tim Tadlock (hitting coach) and our offense did a good job. If you would've told me we would've scored four runs and get him (Degerman) up to 118 pitches and he wouldn't finish, I would take that. I know they put some pressure on our pitching and defense, but as good as we are defensively I would take that chance."

Senior third baseman Ryan Rohlinger was the lone Sooner star at the plate with a 3-for-5 performance. He also added one RBI along with Kevin Smith.

The Owls, who pushed their winning streak to 14 games, are now one win away from another trip to the College World Series while the Sooners will need to win Sunday and Monday.

"That's kind of how it's been for us all year," said Golloway on the Sooners facing elimination and needing to win two straight. "I can't exactly explain why. We do have an awful lot of tough kids, and I know we've used that word a million times this year — how tough our athletes are.

"I think this thing is a long ways from being over. I'm not giving any predictions, but I think there are some dogfights still left on that yard."

Sooner senior Daniel McCutchen (9-8, 4.00 ERA) will get the start on Sunday. The will start at 12 p.m. be televised by ESPN. Sophomore righthander Bobby Bell (8-0, 3.67 ERA) will take the mound for the Owls.

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