By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Oklahoma had two goals Saturday. The first was to win, and the second was to emerge from the offensive slump that infected it for two weeks.
Both goals were accomplished at L. Dale Mitchell Park. The Sooners swept a doubleheader against Cal State Bakersfield with 17-4 and 4-3 victories to sweep the three-game series. The 31 hits and 21 runs they scored over the 18 innings were the icing on the cake.
“We got our bats going,” OU coach Pete Hughes said, “that’s what I’m coming out of this weekend feeling good about.”
Saturday’s performance pulled OU out of a seven-game funk where it had failed to score more than four runs in any game. That might have been how many OU scrambled together in the second game on Saturday but the 12 hits, however, gave a different feeling.
The nightcap was a lot closer to the games OU has played most of the season. It rallied for two runs in the eighth inning to secure the one-run victory.
“We play better when we’re coming from behind,” said OU shortstop Hector Lorenzana, who went 2 for 4 in both games. “When we have a chip on our shoulder, we play a lot better. Today, it was a deal where they score runs and we come back and score more.”
Fifteen of OU’s runs came in the seventh inning or later.
OU actually trailed in the second game, 3-2, heading into the eighth inning. Then an RBI single by Sheldon Neuse and sacrifice fly from Mac James gave OU the lead.
The Sooners’ reliance on late-inning offense has been possible because their bullpen has kept them within striking distance. Robert Tasin (3-2) came out of the bullpen to get the win in Game 2 with a scoreless eighth inning. Ralph Garza Jr. blanked the Roadrunners in the ninth inning to get his seventh save.
Cal State Bakersfield (11-19) didn’t have that kind of faith in the relievers. Austin Davis went seven innings and took the loss. The left-hander threw 149 pitches, giving up all 12 hits and along with five strikeouts and five walks.
Of course, OU (23-10) smacked nearly every pitch it saw to start the day. It scored 17 unanswered runs, including a 10-run seventh inning, in the opener.
Trailing 4-0, the Sooners got on the board with two runs in the fourth, one in the fifth and the game-tying run in the sixth as James drove in Niko Buentello, who led off the inning with a double.
Neuse had a day he won’t forget anytime soon. The freshman drove in eight runs in the opener with a pair of three-run homers, an RBI triple and a sacrifice fly.
The RBI triple came in the seventh inning and gave OU its first lead. He added a three-run blast in next trip to the plate in the seventh and Austin O’Brien added the first homer of his career, also a three-run blast.
Kindle Ladd picked up the victory in relief of Adam Choplick. Ladd (2-1) pitched 4 1/3 innings of scoreless relief to earn the win. Choplick lasted just 2 2/3 innings, giving four runs on five hits with four strikeouts against three walks.
James Barragan (2-4) took the loss. He gave up five runs on nine hits over six innings. OU added 12 more against a trio of Cal State Bakersfield relievers from the seventh inning on.
“We just wanted to prove to everybody that we are good and we are the real deal,” said Hunter Haley, who went 3 for 4 in the opener. “People have be talking about slumps and stuff like that, but it’s just baseball.”
In baseball, things have a way of evening out. After a two-week offensive slump, OU broke out of its Saturday.
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