Sooners Win Short Series 1-0

The No. 13 baseball team may have been saved by the recent snow storm that swept through Norman this weekend in the Sooners' Big 12 opening series against the Baylor Bears.

OU (18-2) won the series opener Friday 7-6 in a back-and-forth, early-innings battle, but that was the only complete game the two teams could fit in at L. Dale Mitchell Park.

The Sooners got out to a 5-3 lead through two innings, but head coach Sunny Golloway did not feel comfortable leaving junior pitcher Zach Neal in the game even though he had thrown just 33 pitches. Neal was coming off consecutive quality starts, but his three-run, two-inning outing in his first conference appearance was not what people were expecting from the pitcher who went 13-0 just a year ago at Howard College.

OU added two more runs in the third inning to give it a 7-3 lead that the bullpen would not give up. Senior pitchers Michael Rocha and Jeremy Erben would combine to throw the final seven innings.

Rocha gave up two runs in the fourth and one run in the fifth to cut the lead down to one run, but his four innings of work was good enough to be credited with the victory Friday. Erben earned his first save of the season by throwing three shutout innings in which he allowed two batters to reach base.

Erben's shutout streak extends to his last eight appearances which spans 19 innings. During those 19 innings, Erben has lowered his ERA to 0.39, has collected four wins and a save, has allowed nine hits and has struck out 26 batters.

The Sooners were outhit by the Bears 10-8 and only one OU hitter had a multi-hit game, but five different Sooners added RBIs to their season stats.

Junior left fielder Casey Johnson went 2-for-4 with a double and RBI, and sophomores, center fielder Chris Ellison and shortstop Caleb Bushyhead, who hit first and second in the lineup, each hit a home run.

OU and Baylor tried squeezing in the second game of the series Friday evening before the snow storm hit Norman, but they could only play 2 1/2 full innings before play had to be suspended. Baylor was leading that game 5-0.

The weather reached the low 30s and snow covered the Oklahoma landscape Saturday and Sunday, cutting the rest of the series short and possibly saving the Sooners from letting the Bears even up the series at one game apiece.

The Sooners return to action March 26 in a three-game series against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Lincoln, Neb. OU won two of three games against the Cornhuskers in Norman last season.

The first pitch of the series is slated for 6:35 p.m., the second game is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday and the series finale will be at 1 p.m. Sunday.

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