Golloway's Sooners Look to Get Back on Track

Last weekend's sweep at the hands of the No. 6 Texas Longhorns left the No. 16 OU baseball team with a sour taste that it needed to get out of its system to regain the confidence it had built up during the first half of the season.

To get rid of that taste, the Sooners (23-6, 3-4) had a tough week in front of them that they had to accomplish two tasks.

Task One: defeat the No. 12 Texas Christian Horned Frogs on the road. Check.

OU beat TCU 4-2 Tuesday night, marking the Sooners' first victory against a ranked opponent this season, behind the arm of senior pitcher Jeremy Erben. Erben made his earliest relief appearance of the season after head coach Sunny Golloway had a short leash on freshman pitcher Drew Verhagen.

Verhagen got into trouble without recording an out in the first inning, and Golloway opted to bring in Erben. The right-handed senior threw 7 2/3 innings, allowed two runs (one earned) and struck out nine batters.

The impressive outing improved Erben's record to 6-0 but raised his ERA to 0.73, a fair tradeoff for being able to make a case to move from the bullpen to the starting rotation.

The Sooners' bats did not give Erben that much run support while he held the Horned Frogs to posting zeros on the scoreboard inning after inning, but they did enough to give Erben enough breathing room.

OU scored two runs in the first inning on an RBI double by sophomore first baseman Cameron Seitzer and an RBI single by Garrett Buechele, and tacked on a run in the sixth and one in the ninth.

Junior closer Ryan Duke pitched the final four outs to record the save, his ninth of the season and 25th of his career.

Task Two: defeat the Missouri Tigers in a three-game series at L. Dale Mitchell Park.

This task should be easier than the first one because the Tigers (17-11, 2-4) aren't a ranked opponent, but it's still tough nonetheless and Golloway will be trying something new with his pitching rotation.

He'll still be going with junior pitchers Zach Neal (3-1, 5.25 ERA) and Bobby Shore (4-1, 2.21 ERA) tonight and Saturday, but he'll be going with a third Sunday starter in as many weekends.

Erben has been promoted to the Sunday starter role after Tuesday's solid performance, and the start will be his first of the season.

The Sooners have the ability to take two of three games from the Tigers this weekend, and Neal and Shore are coming off back-to-back weekends where they each had success during Big 12 play. The only question remaining is whether Erben can be as successful as a starter as he has been out of the bullpen.

We'll see if he can answer that question with a yes this weekend.

The first pitch of the series is slated for 6:30 tonight, and will continue at 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.

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