Super Regional Bound

The No. 11 Sooners defeated the North Carolina Tar Heels 3-2 Sunday to win the Norman Regional and advance to their first super regional since 2006.

The victory was OU's third during the regionals by one run, and it was all thanks to a memorable performance by junior pitcher Bobby Shore.

Shore threw 7 1/3 innings, allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits and struck out six batters in an outing that he called his best of the season.

"I just went out there and pounded the zone," Shore said. "I found that backdoor slider and [was] hitting my spots and making sure the ball was down and making them hit ground balls."

Shore's performance came just one night after junior pitcher Zach Neal dominated the Tar Heels' lineup in a 7-6 extra innings victory, but throwing that well in the regional title game earned Shore the honor of the regional's Most Outstanding Player.

While Shore was cruising through North Carolina's lineup, the hitters did what they needed to get runners on base. The only problem was that the Sooners (47-15) had trouble driving those runners in.

They left 15 runners on base, but the three they plated were enough.

The first of those runs came in the fourth inning when OU trailed 1-0. Junior second baseman Danny Black put down a perfect bunt-single that allowed sophomore first baseman Cameron Seitzer to score.

Black struck again in the sixth inning with an RBI double to give the Sooners a brief 2-1 advantage. The two RBIs and two hits Sunday increased Black's total to three for the regional and helped him earn a spot on the All-Regional team.

But Shore made one of his few mistakes of the night after OU took the lead.

Coming into the sixth inning Shore had allowed just one hit, which was an RBI single in the second inning, and had retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced. Tar Heels senior shortstop Ryan Graepel changed that, sending Shore's fifth pitch of the inning over the left field fence on a line to tie the game.

Shore's teammates picked him up, though, by taking the lead for good in the seventh inning after starting the inning with back-to-back strikeouts by freshman left fielder Max White and sophomore All-Regional third baseman Garrett Buechele.

The two-out rally began with a Seitzer walk, followed a wild pitch that advanced him to second and an infield single by sophomore catcher Tyler Ogle to set up another game-changing situation for sophomore right fielder Cody Reine. Reine, who was also named to the All-Regional team, hit the second infield single of the inning to allow Seitzer to score the eventual game winning run, which gave OU a 3-2 lead at the time.

The RBI single was Reine's third game-tying or game-winning hit in almost two weeks, and he credits that fact to being in the right place at the right time.

"You really can't go out and look for [clutch situations] and – just like you said – it found me," said Reine, who went 1-for-2 with the one RBI. "When it finds you, you've got to be ready."

Shore started the eighth inning and recorded one out before handing the ball over to senior pitcher Jeremy Erben with runners on the corners.

Erben forced two jam-shot infield pop outs against North Carolina's three and four-hole hitters to end the threat.

"I was nervous, but I had full faith in him," Shore said. "I was ecstatic when he got those two jam jobs, and he did a great job."

He worked a scoreless ninth to secure the regional title and the Sooners' 12th win in their last 13 games, but their job is far from being accomplished.

"This is just a step to get us to Omaha," Black said. "We're going to fight in the super regionals to get where we belong."

OU has to wait another day to find out where it will play and who it will face in its super regional series. The Sooners will play the winner of Monday's matchup between St. John's and Virginia, and they have a chance of hosting a regional based on the game's outcome.

If St. John's wins, then OU will host the best-of-three series, but it'll have to travel to Charlottesville, Virginia, if the Cavaliers win. No matter who wins Monday, the Sooners can celebrate tonight beyond just the players' dog-pile after the final out.

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