NORMAN — After dropping seven straight games and seeing hopes of an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament go dormant, Oklahoma was in a combustible situation when it arrived at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Saturday.
Against Baylor in a must-win game in the middle of a must-win series, the Sooners finally erupted — in the way they were hoping.
The losing streak crumbled behind the weight of a 19-hit afternoon in a 13-7 victory over the Bears. The win evened the series. The teams will return at 1 p.m. today for the rubber game.
The Sooners (26-21, 6-11 Big 12) needed something positive to happen. It finally did.
“It’s about time we exploded,” center fielder Craig Aikin said after going 4 for 5 and finishing a home run short of hitting for the cycle.
The win was OU’s first since taking the middle game of the West Virginia series on April 18 and halted a five-game Big 12 losing streak.
The struggles sliced the Sooners’ postseason aspirations to just getting one of the eight spots for the Big 12 tournament.
Winning the Baylor series would remove some doubt. After dropping the series opener 3-2 on Friday and trailing 6-3 heading to bottom of the fourth inning on Saturday, the uncertainty surrounding the Sooners was at unseen levels.
“No one’s used to losing when they come to Oklahoma, that’s for sure,” said catcher Anthony Hermelyn, who went 4 for 5, belted one of OU’s three home runs on the day and finished a double short of the cycle. “We talked about it after that series at Tech. No one could recall a time they’d been beat by 10 runs ever in their baseball career. That’s the reason we’re at Oklahoma because we’ve won everywhere so there’s no doubt it tests your patience, your temper, everything. It takes a toll on your emotions, but I think we just kind of banded together and stayed strong.”