Oklahoma was looking for a launching pad Tuesday night. It was hosting TCU, but at least part of one eye had to be looking ahead. The Sooners go to Austin this weekend for a gigantic Big 12 Conference series with Texas.
It will go there with some momentum following a 7-5 victory over the Horned Frogs, but whether it will catapult them down Interstate 35 remains to be seen.
The Sooners (29-8) didn’t exactly put together a dominant performance. Garrett Richards, Jeremy Erben, Michael Rocha, Chase Anderson and Ryan Duke combined to hold TCU to nine hits and 15 strikeouts.
On the other hand, the Sooners, who entered Tuesday night averaging 9.3 runs per game, were held under their average for the fourth straight game.
Nonetheless, OU got a victory it needed on two fronts. The Horned Frogs (23-11) entered Tuesday’s game at No. 8 in the latest ratings percentage index. The Sooners were No. 30.
“We needed a win so we’d feel like we had some momentum going into it (Texas),” OU coach Sunny Golloway said. “… But TCU has a good RPI and a good team. I consider this a quality win.”
No reason it shouldn’t be. The Horned Frogs have claimed series over Cal State Fullerton and Wichita State this season and pummeled Texas Tech, 12-5, Monday night.
But OU rode them out of town with two big innings at the plate and solid performance by its pitching staff.
It wasn’t the typical big inning power display that did in the Horned Frogs. Only one of OU’s nine hits went extra bases. It was more station-to-station, but it worked well enough.
The Sooners got three RBI singles from Cameron Seitzer, Chris Ellison and Jamie Johnson and an RBI double from Matt Harughty in the second inning to claim a 4-2 lead.
An RBI single by Kaleb Herren, a sacrifice fly from Bryant Hernandez and a throwing error by TCU shortstop Taylor Featherston led three more runs in the fourth.
The Horned Frogs led early thanks to Jason Coats’ two-run homer in the top half of the second, but never threatened to take the lead after the Sooners answered.
Richards (5-1) scattered five hits and three runs over five innings to get the victory. It was the second straight impressive outing from the hard-throwing right-hander. He had seven strikeouts over four innings last Wednesday at Wichita State.
“I feel like I’m making strides, but the most important thing is I’m giving our team a chance to win,” Richards said.
Ryan Duke closed out the ninth to collect his eighth save.
Paul Gerrish (4-1) took the loss. He started hot, striking out the side in the first inning. But he only got one out in the second before giving up five hits and four runs.
“We knew we still have to work on stuff and get better at a lot of things,” said Ellison, who set a career high with three hits, “But this win boosts our confidence going into the weekend.”