Senior outfielder/infielder Max White scored on a passed ball in the bottom of the 12th inning to propel the No. 16-ranked University of Oklahoma baseball team to a 3-2 triumph over TCU in its Big 12 Conference opener Friday at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
The Sooners (20-4, 1-0 Big 12) ran their winning streak to eight straight games and posted their fifth walk-off win of the 2013 campaign thanks to the victory over the Horned Frogs (9-12, 1-3 Big 12).
White opened the 12th with a base hit up the middle, then went to third on junior infielder Matt Oberste's double to left center. After junior catcher Dylan Neal drew an intentional walk, White scampered home on a passed ball to provide the winning margin for the Sooners.
"This was a big win," said OU head coach Sunny Golloway. "Max did a great job of getting on base and putting us in position to get the win."
OU's bats tallied 14 hits, marking the 15th time in 2013 the Sooners have collected at least 10 hits and fifth game in a row. White led the way at the plate with a 3-for-5 effort. Senior infielder Jack Mayfield, freshman outfielder Craig Aikin, senior infielder Garrett Carey and freshman outfielder Hunter Haley each collected two hits. Oberste's clutch double in the 12th extended his hitting streak to 27 consecutive games dating back to the 2012 campaign, which is tied with Marty Neff (1991) for the longest such streak in program history. He has also reached base safely in 31 straight games dating back to 2012.
"I told Matt that he got himself to the point of tying the record by working hard, by believing in (volunteer assistant coach) Rich Hills and allowing his God-given ability to do what it has done, but his team got him the record by extending the game and getting him to the plate," said Golloway. "You don't draw that up. That just happens, and it's amazing. The game of baseball is so much better of a coach than any of us will ever be."
Junior southpaw reliever Ethan Carnes tossed a perfect top of the 12th and earned the mound triumph, improving to 1-1 on the season. Junior right-handed starting pitcher Jonathan Gray, the two-time reigning Big 12 Pitcher of the Week, put together another strong performance on the hill, matching his career high of 12 strikeouts over nine innings. Senior lefty Jake Fisher tossed two scoreless frames in extras.
"Jonathan Gray did an outstanding job," said Golloway. "He really had tremendous control and had everything working and was really masterful. Things could have been different and he could have been credited with the win, but his excitement for his team to get the win speaks volumes of his character. It's about our team, and I'm very proud of our team for having that kind of character. Our bullpen came up big for us today as well. Our attitude is, for us to get to Omaha, our bullpen has got to step up. It was a good time for Fisher and Carnes to do it, and we needed it."
OU landed the game's first punch in the second. Freshman infielder Kolbey Carpenter drew a one-out walk and scored one out later on a single to center by Haley.
Gray had a no-hitter going through five innings, but TCU sophomore outfielder Cody Jones broke it up with a leadoff double to center in the sixth and scored on a sacrifice fly to right by freshman outfielder Boomer White to tie the game at one.
Oklahoma regained the upper hand in the eighth as Mayfield shot a single back up the middle and scored on an RBI ground out by Oberste to put the Sooners back in front, 2-1.
The Horned Frogs did not quit, though. Sophomore pinch hitter Jerrick Suiter sent a leadoff single through the left side and scored one out later by way of a sacrifice fly to center by redshirt senior infielder Jantzen Witte to even the score at two. TCU forced extras, but the Sooners found a way to win it in the 12th.
Oklahoma takes aim at the series win over TCU Saturday at L. Dale Mitchell Park. First pitched is scheduled for 2 p.m. CT. The game will be televised live on both FOX Sports Southwest Plus and FOX College Sports.
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