NORMAN — If Oklahoma’s seven-game losing streak was taking an emotional toll on the Sooners, they weren’t showing it going into Saturday’s game against Baylor.
After breaking the slump with a 13-7 win over the Bears in front of 1,646 at L. Dale Mitchell Park, OU coaches and players definitely felt a sense of relief.
“It was hard,” first-year coach Pete Hughes said. “I won’t candy-coat it. You can’t. When you’re invested emotionally in something and you lose and you lose a lot, it hurts and it wears you out.
“You can carry it around with you.”
Hughes said the team was loose going into the game but would certainly be in an even better mood going into Sunday’s 1 p.m. series finale.
The deciding game of the series will also be OU’s final home game, with the team’s seniors honored before the game.
The win moved the Sooners (26-22, 6-11 Big 12) a game ahead of Baylor (21-27, 6-13) for seventh place in the Big 12 and, more importantly, two games ahead of last-place Kansas State. The league’s ninth-place team does not advance to the Big 12 Tournament.
“The team feels like if we can get hot right now, we can kind of make a run at this thing,” OU catcher Anthony Hermelyn said. “Finish up the Big 12 regular season getting hot, playing some quality opponents and take it into the Big 12 Tournament and see if we can make a run at it.”
The Sooners fell behind early before exploding with an eight-run fourth.
After a quiet start to the inning, OU nine-hole hitter Hector Lorenzana got things going with his first home run of the season with one out.
Eventually six consecutive Sooners reached base, capped by back-to-back two-run hits by Mac James and Austin O’Brien.
The Sooners also got help from the bullpen after starter Jacob Evans lasted just two innings.
Robert Tasin entered the game in relief and didn’t have an easy start, battling through a jam in the third then giving up two runs in the fourth before settling in.
Tasin (4-4) wound up throwing five innings, giving up four hits and just the two runs to pick up the win.
“You get that eight spot, you need to put a zero up there,” Hughes said. “He had a shut-down inning and then he did it for three more innings for us. Even after letting up that two-run homer, the kid kept his composure and kept throwing strikes for us to keep building a lead.”
Tasin’s performance also helped OU’s cause for Sunday, as the Sooners will be able to start Ralph Garza. They also will have a fresh Kindle Ladd and Drew Krittenbrink in their bullpen after neither were needed Saturday.
Craig Aiken, Sheldon Neuse and Hermelyn all finished one hit short of the cycle.
Home plate umpire Harry Greer had to leave the game in the fifth after being hit with a pitch on his left wrist. Jon Wolfe replaced him after Greer was taken for X-rays.