The Norman Transcript

June 5, 2012

Sooners win regional

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Three days ago, Oklahoma coach Sunny Golloway sounded arrogant when he proclaimed his team had enough “power arms” to win four games in two days and win the Charlottesville Regional.

His statement went from presumptuous to prophetic Monday night at Davenport Field

“I didn’t lie to y’all, did I?” Golloway said after the Sooners wrapped up the run with a 5-2 victory over Appalachian State. “… Those arms are what gives us confidence.”

Drew Harrison was the final piece of that puzzle. The Sooners forced a decisive final game earlier in the afternoon by pummeling the Mountaineers (41-18) 14-6.

The Sooners were everything they hadn’t been in their first three regional games. They belted out 14 hits — three more than it had in the first three regional games combined — in the 14-6 rout to start the day. They added 10 more in the 5-2 victory to claim the series.

Matt Oberste and Cody Reine powered the Sooners’ offensive onslaught. Oberste went 4-for-4 with 4 RBIs, and Reine went 3-for-7 with a three-run homer, a two-run double and a sac fly in the opener.

It was a slugfest that OU had to use different pitchers to get through. Steven Bruce (2-0) got the victory for OU. He was the third of five pitchers to take the mound. Bruce went 3 2/3 innings. The right-hander gave up three runs on two hits.

He was blessed to be on the mound when the Sooners scored three runs on the top of the fourth inning to tie the game. They added four runs in the sixth inning, four more in the seventh and three more in the eighth.

Rob Marcello (6-5) took the loss in the opening game. He gave up five runs on three hits over five innings. The Sooners beat up the Mountaineers’ bullpen as well, collecting nine runs off relievers.

The finale was more to the form OU has used through its run late in the regular and throughout the postseason. Few outside the Sooner locker room figured Harrison would continue the string of dominant starting pitching. He’d only thrown nine innings the last three seasons.

Then he held the Mountaineers to two runs on three hits over six innings. It was the junior’s first career start.

“It was a great feeling to be able to pitch the game that takes us to a Super Regional,” said Harrison, who also improved to 1-0 in his career. “I just wanted to throw strikes.”

Regionals that go to seven games often make for ugly games. The Mountaineers were hoping that would be the case. Their pitcher was running on fumes. Jeffrey Springs (2-1) went 5 2/3 innings and gave 10 hits and five runs. Springs only threw 24 1/3 innings this season. His job was to keep his team in the game as long as possible.

Appalachian State coach Chris Pollard couldn’t believe OU had another power arm to go on Monday night.

“I was amazed when I saw Harrison. It shows you how deep their club really is,” Appalachian State coach Chris Pollard said.

The Sooners (42-23) trailed 1-0 after the first inning but erupted for three runs in the bottom of the first and cruised from there. It was Oberste who got the Sooners rolling with an RBI single, and Mayfield followed it up with a two-run double. OU didn’t trail again.

Mayfield drove in three runs, and Caleb Bushyhead went 2-for-3 to push the Sooners into the super regional round for the first time since 2010.

The Sooners went 9-for-58 at the plate in the first three games. They went 24-for-71 on Monday’s wins.

“We were due,” Bushyhead said. “We struggled the whole regional. You can pull out all the stats, and all of them were nothing short of awful. I think today we showed what we’re capable of doing, and that’s coming out and banging the ball around.”

On Monday at least, the Sooners looked like a team able to reach the College World Series. They didn’t dogpile after Steven Okert got Noah Holmes to fly out to left field for the final. They shook hands, shook the Mountaineers’ hands and were already thinking about what’s next.

“We’ve had our backs against the wall,” Reine said. “Nothing changes for us.”

OU showed in Charlottesville that it has the pitching to fight out of the corner, and when the hitting clicks, it’s very tough to beat.

John Shinn 366-3536 jshinn@normantranscript.com