Big 12 Conference regular-season champion Baylor had its bats blistering on Saturday in an 8-1 victory over Arkansas, out of the Southeastern Conference, to take a one game lead in the Bears' best of three NCAA super-regional series in Waco. Meanwhile, Oklahoma couldn't get anything going against South Carolina pitching ace Michael Roth, who commandeered a 5-0 shutout victory over Oklahoma in Game 1 one of the Sooners super-regional at South Carolina.
Logan Vick clubbed two home runs and drove in three to lead the Baylor offense on Saturday, which accounted for 12 hits off three Arkansas pitchers. The Bears scored twice in the first, two more in the third and single tallies in the fourth and fifth innings to build a 6-0 lead before the Razorbacks scored their first and only run in the top of the sixth. Big 12 Player of the Year Josh Ludy unloaded a solo shot of his own, his 16th of the season, in the fourth inning.
Baylor starter Trent Black went eight innings for the Bears, a career high, allowing only one run on seven hits and seven strikeouts, in recording his 11th win of the year. With the win, Black became the first Baylor pitcher to reach 11 wins in a season since 2000.
The Sooners' offense was virtually nonexistent against South Carolina's Roth. OU managed to get six hits, all singles, vs. the South Carolina southpaw, playing his final game in front of the Gamecocks' home crowd, over 8,000 strong. On a couple of occasions, the Sooners had runners at second base, and once at third (Max White, who reached third on an outfield error), but it was always with two outs and Roth was able to get out of trouble.
Oklahoma was 0-4 with runners in scoring position and ended up leaving six runners stranded.
After working a scoreless first inning, Oklahoma starter and loser Jordan John had difficulty finding the strike zone in the second against the two-time defending national champion Gamecocks and got himself in trouble early, giving up a three-spot to South Carolina on just two hits in the second, which proved to be enough for the victory. Sophomore left-hander Dillon Overton came on in relief and pitched a strong six innings for OU, but the damage had already been done.
Oklahoma has a recent history of dropping its first game in the NCAA baseball playoffs, only to come back and win its final games to avoid elimination and move on in the tournament. Twice in the last three years, the Sooners have dropped their opening game in Charlottesville, Va., including just last week, but have gone on to defeat the top seed and win the regional championship (two seasons ago, it was the super regional).
So, facing elimination in big games is nothing new to coach Sunny Golloway's Sooners' squad. "Our backs have been against the wall all year," said senior OU shortstop Caleb Bushyhead. "I don't see why this is any different."
Baylor now needs only one win to advance to the College World Series for the fourth time in school history. The Bears and Razorbacks will meet again on Sunday in Waco. If Arkansas wins, a third and deciding game will be played on Monday.
Oklahoma will go with right-handed starter Jonathan Gray on Sunday against the Gamecocks, the eighth overall seed in the 2012 NCAA Championship, as the Sooners try to stave off elimination and live to play another day.
"We'll battle," Golloway said. "We'll give it everything we've got."