Nebraska walks off with series lead

Friday, March 21st 2008, 10:00 pm
By: News 9


LINCOLN, Neb. -- Oklahoma controlled the first six innings of the game but it was Nebraska's Craig Corriston that decided the outcome in the end with a two-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth to give the Cornhuskers a 4-2 win on Friday at Hawks Field.

Nebraska rallied to score four runs in the final three innings to improve to 16-3 overall and 4-0 in Big 12 play.  The game was the first in Big 12 play for Oklahoma, which fell to 17-6 overall.

The Sooners held a 2-0 lead after their at-bat in the seventh, but Nebraska ended OU starter Jeremy Erben's outing after six stellar innings. The sophomore faced one batter over the minimum after sixth frames, but ran into trouble in the bottom of the seventh where a leadoff double by Jake Mort was followed by an error on senior Mike Gosse at second base. 

The dropped fly ball put runners on first and second with zero outs and Erben walked the next batter to load the bases before freshman Ryan Duke (3-2) relieved him. Duke gave up a single to the first batter he faced, Nick Sullivan, who drove the single past a diving Aaron Baker at first base and through the hole in the right-side of the infield.  While Nebraska tied the ball game at two runs apiece, Duke retired the next three batters to end the Huskers' threat.

In Nebraska's ninth, Duke retired the first two batters in order before Nick Sullivan singled to keep the game alive.  Sullivan did not have to wait long to cross home plate as the next batter, Craig Corriston, drove a shot to left field for the walk-off home run. 

"It's a disappointing loss because of the mistakes and unearned runs," said OU head coach Sunny Golloway.  " We had the first place team in the Big 12 where we wanted them but we couldn't finish out the game.  That is something we need to continue to do as a team."

Oklahoma put the leadoff hitter on base in seven of its nine at-bats and out hit Nebraska 9-7, but stranded 10 base runners to the Nebraska's three.  The Sooners also struggled with runners in scoring position, only connecting once in 15 opportunities as Zach Herr improved to 2-0 after he pitched a scoreless 1 2/3 innings to close out the game.

The Sooners loaded the bases in the first inning off Nebraska starter Johnny Dorn, but senior Mike Gosse, who singled to lead off the game, and sophomores Aaron Baker and Jamie Johnson, who both walked, did not cross home plate.

OU stranded another runner in scoring position in the top of the second but came back one inning later to score the game's first run. Senior Aljay Davis (3-for-4) doubled to lead off the third inning and later scored on junior J.T. Wise's sacrifice fly to center field with one out on the board.

The Sooners took a 2-0 lead with Davis at the plate and freshman Tyson Seng at third base.  Seng led off the fourth inning with a double to the gap in left-center field, advanced to third on a fly out to center field, and scored on Davis' single through the left side of the infield.

Erben, in just his second start of the year and first since the season opener, lasted six-plus innings and gave up two runs, one earned, on four hits and two walks.  Erben struck out four batters and his counterpart was also solid.  Dorn pitched 7 1/3 and also surrendered two runs, but on nine hits and three walks.

"I thought Jeremy was outstanding today," added Golloway.  " Unfortunately, so was Johnny Dorn and he kept them in the ball game and battled for seven innings."

The Sooners will continue the three-game series with Nebraska on Saturday at 2:05 p.m.  The game is set to for a live broadcast on KOKC 1520 AM and will feature OU's Andrew Doyle (4-1) throwing against NU's Thad Weber (3-1).