The University of Oklahoma baseball team pounded out an 8-1 win over No. 6 Oklahoma State behind strong pitching efforts from senior right-hander Kindle Ladd and sophomore lefty Jeffrey Curran, Saturday night. In front of 8,709 at ONEOK Field, the Sooners ended the regular season at 28-27 overall and 8-16 in the Big 12. The Cowboys, who had a 12-game win streak snapped, enter the postseason at 41-14 and 18-6.
"Awesome [effort], top to bottom," opened head coach Pete Hughes after the win. "Our pitchers never beat themselves against a team that was playing really well. We've asked out staff to do a lot, Kindle included. It's good to see those guys rested, fresh and feeling better about themselves. I can't say enough about our pitching staff."
Oklahoma batted all the way through the order in the first and took advantage of bases loaded opportunities and an OSU error. Sophomore center fielder Craig Aikin started the game with a lead-off infield single and two two-out walks loaded the bases. Sophomore catcher Anthony Hermelyn gave the Sooners their first lead of the series with two runs driven in on a base hit to right field. After an error at second loaded the bases again, sophomore first baseman Kolbey Carpenter knocked a single back up the box and into center field to bring in two more and spotted Ladd a four-run cushion.
In the fourth inning, Oklahoma added two runs to its lead, but was unable to cash-in on two chances with the bases loaded. Two walks and a stolen base by Carpenter put runners on the corners with no outs. Aikin lined a double to right-center that scored Carpenter. With runners on the corners again and the infield in, senior shortstop Hector Lorenzana punched a single through the right side that pushed the OU lead to 6-0. Right-hander Trey Cobb came on as the third Cowboy pitcher of the night and got two outs to leave the bases full of Sooners.
Ladd (4-3), making his second start of the season, pitched five innings and gave up his only run in the fifth inning on a wild pitch. He scattered four hits and two walks. For Oklahoma State, lefty Garrett Williams (4-1) suffered his first loss as he couldn't get out of the first inning. He allowed four runs, two earned, on two hits and two walks in 0.2 innings.
"I know that you can have success against Oklahoma State if you throw a ton of strikes," continued Hughes. "Their major weapon offensively is the walk. If you make your pitches, don't beat yourself and pound the zone, you have a chance. We have some pretty good arms and some teams you match up well with. They're all going to be tight games and whoever makes the big play or error can win or lose the game."
Freshman third baseman Sheldon Neuse was a rare 0-for-4 going into the eighth inning until he cranked his team-leading seventh home run on the season. It was a two-run shot to extend the OU lead to 8-1.
Curran earned a rare four-inning save for the first of his career. He struck out four and surrendered just one hit.
The two teams meet again on Wednesday at 4 p.m. in the opening round of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.
"We've got game six and need to force game seven," Hughes said of the re-match with his team's in-state rival.