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March 16, 2014

Sooners win their third-straight game in extra innings

NORMAN — There’s no clock in baseball, but Oklahoma understood its time was dwindling Saturday at L. Dale Mitchell Park. The lightning bolt to the southwest as the bottom of the 11th inning began indicated that the Sooners options were down to scoring a run or settling for a tie against Belmont.

Plan A worked out when Anthony Hermelyn drove in Sheldon Neuse for a 6-5, 11-inning victory in a rain-soaked game.

The Sooners (14-5) have won three straight extra-inning games, starting with last Tuesday’s 10-inning triumph over Texas-Arlington.

The only difference between Saturday and the first two was this one was pushed to the 11th inning. What’s remained a constant is OU blowing chances for big innings until the latest possible moment.

“We haven’t been able to get the big knock early or in the middle of games. Late in games we’re getting them,” said Hermelyn, who went 2 for 4 and drove in three runs.

The Sooners stranded 13 base runners and were just 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position. Hermelyn’s shot to left-center field gap was nearly identical to Taylor Alspaugh’s in Friday night’s 5-4 win over the Bruins (7-11). That was also a game where OU squandered big-inning opportunities.

OU coach Pete Hughes’ disgust with his team’s offensive struggles until the final innings didn’t alter much either.

“It’s frustrating,” he said. “We had an opportunity to really get this game going in our direction and just didn’t do it. We’ve got to be able to get the ball out of the infield and stay out of double plays in those key situations.”

The start time was pushed up to 11 a.m. due to threat of rain and there was still a 68-minute rain delay between the fifth and sixth innings.

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