OU Baseball: Week in Review

The No. 17 baseball team continued the winning ways it found during its seven-game road trip at L. Dale Mitchell Park this week with home wins over the UT-Arlington Mavericks and the South Florida Bulls.

Unlike the weekend series, the Sooners (8-1) did not have to rely on their bullpen or the option of running up the score of their opponents. OU got two quality starts from pitchers from opposing ends of their careers and sophomore Garrett Buechele was almost all of the offense it needed to win.

Freshman Ryan Gibson built off his first career start on Feb. 20 against San Diego State with an ever better performance Tuesday against in the Sooners' 4-3 victory over the Mavericks. Gibson threw seven innings while giving up two runs (one earned) on four hits and striking out four batters.

But Gibson did not receive too much help from his bats. OU's hitters had gotten all seven of their hits before Gibson exited the game, and Buechele was the only player who drove in any runs.

Down 1-0 in the third inning, Buechele launched a three-run home run over the left field fence to give the Sooners a 3-1 lead that they would never relinquish.

Buechele added an RBI-single in the fifth inning that wound up being the game-winning run.

The Mavericks narrowed the game with a run in the sixth, but Gibson held them in check before he handed the ball over senior pitcher Jeremy Erben. Erben threw a scoreless eighth and struck out two batters in his inning of work.

Head coach Sunny Golloway called upon junior pitcher Ryan Duke once again to close out the game, but Golloway was not expecting the stress the All-American. Duke gave up a run on back-to-back extra base hits to start the inning, but settled down by retiring the next three batters in order to record his fourth save of the season.

The save increases Duke's career save total to 20, which puts him eight saves away from tying OU's career saves record. At the pace Duke is going, he may break the record within the next two months.

The Sooners had to rally from a two-run deficit to steal a win away from South Florida in the opening game of the Sooner Classic. OU scored three runs in the eighth and ninth innings to pull out the 5-4 victory despite getting a good start from senior pitcher Michael Rocha.

Trailing 4-2 to start the bottom of the eighth inning, senior Kaleb Herren steps up to the plate to start the inning and came through with a pinch-hit solo home run, but the Bulls' bullpen retired the next five batters to back OU into a nearly inescapable corner.

With two outs, the Sooners plated two runs on RBI-singles by freshman infielder Chad Kettler and sophomore shortstop Caleb Bushyhead for the game-winning and game-tying runs.

Bushyhead's game-winning hit was the first of his career and was the Sooners' first walk-off hit of the season.

Buechele raised his season batting average to .514 and RBI total to 13 after going 2-3 with an RBI single Thursday. In the two home games, Buechele has collected four hits in seven at-bats while driving in four runs.

Erben was credited with the win, his third of the season, and extended his scoreless streak to four games. The only outing that Erben surrendered a run was on Feb. 19 in the season opener against San Diego State when he allowed one run.

Erben has a 0.71 ERA in 12 2/3 innings of work.

The Sooners continue the Sooner Classic against the Western Illinois Leathernecks at 3 p.m. Friday. OU holds an 18-1 lead in the all-time series, and have won all 18 games in Norman.

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