May 19, 2011
Verrett (6-4) hasn't allowed an earned run in his last 21.0 innings after limiting the Sooners to four hits with eight strikeouts in 8.0 innings. Max Garner recorded a save for the sixth consecutive Big 12 series by working a scoreless ninth inning.
"He's pitching well, and I really thought tonight was really good," head coach Steve Smith said of Verrett. "I thought his seventh inning was his best, and that's when I thought, `Wow, he may have enough left to get through this.' He's just pitching. He's got fastball command right now, and he's doing a good job with that. I think that's the biggest difference is he's got command of the fastball. And when he's got that, he's always got a good slider."
Baylor (28-23, 12-13) pitchers have held opponents to a combined six earned runs over the last five games, four of which have been against ranked teams. Oklahoma (39-14, 13-10) saw its nine-game winning streak come to an end with the loss.
The Bears scored in their first trip to the plate when Joey Hainsfurther brought Brooks Pinckard home with a two-out RBI single, but Max Muncy was thrown out trying to score from second on the play, limiting the Bears to one run on three hits and a walk in the inning.
Oklahoma took advantage of a two-out dropped fly ball when Cody Reine followed with a two-run homer to give the Sooners a 2-1 lead in the second, but that lead would be short-lived, as the Bears quickly went back in front with two runs in the home half of the inning.
Jake Miller fouled off three two-strike pitches before connecting for his second homer of the season on the ninth pitch of his at-bat leading off the second. Pinckard was hit by a pitch with two outs and scored from first base when Max Muncy laced a double to the gap in left-center field. That would prove to be all the run support Verrett would need.
Rocha (10-3) took the loss after allowing four runs on eight hits with two walks and six strikeouts in 4.2 innings. Anthony Collazo and Tyson Seng combined to hold the Bears scoreless over the last 3.1 innings.
After giving up a leadoff single in the fourth, Verrett allowed only one hit to the last 17 batters he faced before turning the ball over to Garner to start the ninth. Garner issued a leadoff walk, bringing the potential tying run to the plate, but he got a strikeout, flyout and groundout to end the game.
"I feel like Josh (Ludy) and I got in a really good rhythm there," Verrett said. "We were working quickly, keeping them off-balance and keeping them guessing. I think the early strikeouts helped me later in the game, because it makes them start guessing."
Miller and Hainsfurther each went 3-for-4 with one RBI, while Muncy had two hits and Pinckard scored a pair of runs. Caleb Bushyhead had half of Oklahoma's four hits, while Reine drove in both of the Sooners' runs.
The series resumes at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Baylor Ballpark. Baylor will be going for its first series win over a top-15 ranked opponent since 2006 when the Bears send sophomore lefty Josh Turley to the mound against OU junior right-hander Burch Smith.