June 6, 2010

NORMAN, Okla. -- Erik Ross' RBI double in the 10th inning was the difference on Saturday night as the No. 11 Sooners topped North Carolina, 7-6, in front of 2,720 fans at L. Dale Mitchell Park. The win sends Oklahoma to a regional final game on Sunday for the fifth time in the last six years under head coach Sunny Golloway.

"I am really proud of our players and the way they performed," said Golloway in the post-game press conference. "This was a great baseball game and I am happy about the way our guys fought."

Oklahoma (46-15), which has won 19 of the last 23 games, last won the first two games of a NCAA Regional in 1998 (Tallahassee). The Sooners will face the winner of Sunday's elimination game between North Carolina (37-21) and Oral Roberts (36-26), which begins at 1 p.m. tomorrow. Tickets are available on SoonerSports.com or at the box office.

Sunday's regional final will get underway at 7 p.m. on Sunday and the Sooners are one win away from advancing to its second Super Regional appearance and first since 2006 (format originated in 1999).

In the top of the 10th, Ricky Eisenberg doubled with one out to become the go-ahead run and came around to score as Ross roped the ground rule double over the head of centerfielder Mike Cavasinni as reliever Greg Holt (3-4) took the loss.

If it wasn't for Ross' double bouncing over the center field wall, OU would have taken an 8-6 lead. Instead, OU stranded Caleb Bushyhead at third, but Ryan Duke held on to record the win for the second straight night in extra innings.

"You can't train anyone in the fall for this stuff because this is making me old in a hurry," said Golloway on another extra-inning victory. "Sure, I think we would like to keep scoring and run away. Sure, we would like to make things easier in the end but we are playing in the NCAA tournament and nobody is going to lie down. They are going to fight to the end."

The win for Duke (3-1) was not easy as he blew his first save of the year (third of career) in the ninth as the Tar Heels plated three runs in the ninth inning, two off the bat of Brian Goodwin and his triple.

Oklahoma led throughout most of the evening, including a 4-0 lead after the fifth inning, but North Carolina chipped away late.

Despite the no-decision, the Sooners' Zach Neal produced his longest outing since his complete game at Texas Tech on April 17 with eight solid innings and the second-highest strikeout total of the season at 10. His opposition, Patrick Johnson, allowed four runs off seven hits in 4 1/3 innings.

Chris Ellison, Friday afternoon's hero in the 10th inning, helped OU strike first with a sacrifice squeeze in the third inning that plated Ricky Eisenberg, who walked to lead off the frame. The Sooners built a 2-0 lead in the fourth on Tyler Ogle's eighth home run on the year and his third in the last six games.

The fourth inning was just the start of Ogle's offensive day as he drove in two runs off a single in the fifth with the bases loaded to give OU a 4-0 lead after five innings.

After North Carolina broke up the shutout with two runs in the sixth, Garrett Buechele countered with his team-leading 16th homer, a solo blast to left in the seventh inning.