Sooners Narrowly Escape Upset, Win 16th Straight

Thursday, May 26th 2011, 12:16 pm
By: News On 6

Originally Published: Mar 12, 2011 6:47 PM CDT

Corey DeMoss
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

NORMAN, Okla. – The No. 2 Oklahoma baseball team narrowly avoided a huge upset Saturday in a 2-1 victory against Arkansas-Little Rock.

Little Rock (6-8) took the lead on the fifth pitch of the game, when Sean Bignall led off the top of the first with a home run. That seemed to foreshadow a shootout, but the game became just the opposite: a pitcher’s duel.

Oklahoma (16-0) tied the game in the third inning, when Cody Reine was gifted with an RBI after being hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. From that point forward, both teams pitched four consecutive scoreless innings.

UALR pulled starter Travis Henke in the eighth inning in favor of John Maler, who was doomed by one major mistake. Maler walked Casey Johnson to put the go-ahead run aboard, and Eric Ross immediately entered as a pinch runner.

Fearing that Ross may try to steal his way into scoring position, Maler attempted to pick him off first base. But the throw got away from him and sailed into right field, and Ross advanced from first to third on the play with only one out.

In the next at-bat, Reine hit a ground ball to second baseman Jason Houston. Houston rushed as he tried to throw Ross out at the plate, but instead bobbled the ball for an error that allowed Reine to reach base. Reine was credited with an RBI on the play, his second of the game.

Little Rock had one final chance to tie the game in the top of the ninth, and with two outs Niko Navarro hit a double down the right field line to put the tying run in scoring position. But pitcher Ryan Duke – who made his first appearance of the year after serving a suspension – struck out Brock Feldmann to end the game.

Duke recorded the final four outs for OU and earned the win after giving up only one hit. Maler finished with the loss after retiring only one of the four batters he faced.

The victory continued OU’s longest winning streak to start a season in school history, but marked the first time this year the Sooners failed to score at least four runs. OU and Little Rock will face either again at 1 p.m. Sunday to complete their three-game series.