Monday, June 11, 2012

Baseball: OU Season Over After Loss to Gamecocks

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Two-time defending national champions South Carolina kept their record NCAA postseason winning streak alive and ended Oklahoma’s season with a 5-1 victory in the Columbia Super Regional Monday.

The Sooners' season ended at 42-25 while the Gamecocks improved to 45-17.

"We lost 25 games (in 2012) and we went toe-to-toe with a team that has won back-to-back national championships," said OU Head Coach Sunny Golloway, who has coached OU in all three of the program's Super Regional appearances. "I think it’s a tribute to the young men that represent the University of Oklahoma baseball team. Its hard to lose that many games and get this far. I am extremely proud."

Held scoreless for six innings Sunday in a game twice suspended by rain, the Gamecocks struck quickly Monday to take an advantage in the second game of the best-of-three Super Regional series.

In the top of the seventh, with Steven Okert on the mound for Oklahoma, Tanner English’s two-strike, sacrifice bunt was fielded by OU first baseman Evan Mistich, who overthrew third base, allowing Connor Bright to score and English to reach second.

English scored on Okert’s ball-four wild pitch to leadoff hitter Joey Pankake.

"Give South Carolina credit," said Golloway. "They put the ball on the carpet and forced the issue. They can beat you in a number of different ways."

Mistich atoned for his field error by plating OU’s only run of the series in the next inning, scoring Garrett Carey from second on a single to right center.

English hit in Casey Matthews for insurance in the eighth inning with a two-out, bunt single that raced beyond Okert’s reach as it sped between first and second base. Any momentum the Sooners had built with its run in the seventh ended as second baseman Chase Vergason doubled to clear the bases and add two South Carolina runs in the next at-bat.

After being halted at 8:40 p.m. Central Sunday night, the game resumed at 3:05 p.m. Monday with Oklahoma at bat in the bottom of the sixth. The Sooners loaded the bases with two outs, but right fielder Cody Reine flew out to right field after a 10-pitch battle with South Carolina’s Tyler Webb.

On Sunday, OU’s Jonathan Gray struck out nine of 23 batters and allowed just three hits as he finished his start after a one-hour, four-minute lightning delay after the fifth inning. South Carolina starter Colby Holmes was holding Sooners at bay as well, giving up just one hit with two strikeouts.

"I was really proud of Jonathan's effort," said Golloway. "Especially to come back out after the first rain delay."

Gray reached 100 K’s for the season with his fourth strikeout, coming in the third inning against Evan Marzilli. He joins Jordan John and Dillon Overton for the first trio in Oklahoma history to each hit the benchmark in a single season.

"We are going to hang our hat on the fact that we have Jonathan Gray and Dillon Overton back next year," said Golloway. "There will be a time for Oklahoma baseball to be reckoned with. It won't be today. Today is about South Carolina."

Weather delays plagued the Super Regional series. Rain washed away the standard pre-game routines but the first pitch was on schedule Sunday. At the conclusion of the fifth inning, officials suspended play. The game resumed but was halted again after the completion of the top of the sixth.

South Carolina won Game 1 of the best-of-three series, 5-0, Saturday. The Gamecocks increased their NCAA postseason winning streak to 21 games and go to Omaha looking to three-peat in the College World Series.

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/// SoonerSports PR
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