Smith shuts down Texas Tech
Red Raiders lose to Sooners for fourth time this season
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Burch Smith tossed a career-high 8.2 innings with eight strikeouts en route to No. 12 Oklahoma’s 3-1 win against Texas Tech on Thursday in an elimination game of the Big 12 Championship.
“I worked all year for that and I hadn’t been in the ninth inning yet,” said Smith. “I think I might have been in the eighth one time, but it feels good to be able to go out and save the bullpen.”
Cameron Seitzer’s solo home run in the fourth inning proved to be the difference as OU held a 1-0 lead before the blast to right field, while Texas Tech was scoreless until the ninth inning when Smith surrendered a RBI single to Nick Popescu.
Smith (10-3) has dominated Texas Tech this season, posting a 2-0 record and 20 strikeouts in 13.2 innings. Back on April 3 in Norman, Okla., Smith struck out 12 Red Raiders in just five innings.
Thursday’s win marked Smith’s eighth win in his last 10 starts. Smith, along with Michael Rocha (10-3), gives the Sooners their first pair of 10-game winners since 2006 when Daniel McCutchen (10-8) and Steven Guerra (11-4) led OU to its first NCAA Super Regional. In fact, its only happened six times in the history of the Sooner program, twice in the Sunny Golloway era.
“I thought we played really well. The ball game was really about Burch Smith to my left here,” said Golloway in the postgame press conference. “I thought it was as gutty of a performance, honestly, that I’ve seen in a Sooner uniform and that’s not taking from pitchers in the past, but we really needed that.”
The win improves Oklahoma to 41-16 overall as it awaits the loser of the Kansas State versus Texas A&M game. The Sooners will play either the Wildcats or Aggies on Friday night at Redhawks Field.
Texas Tech fell to Oklahoma for the fourth consecutive time this season, dropping to 33-25 overall. The Red Raiders’ offense was able to get just six hits off Smith, who tossed a career-high 146 pitches, with 100 of them being strikes. In the ninth, Ryan Duke recorded the final out for his team-leading seventh save of the year.
The OU offense produced 12 base knocks as Seitzer (2-for-2), Elliott Blair (2-for-4), Casey Johnson (3-for-5) and Caleb Bushyhead (3-for-4) all turned in multi-hit performances.
The scoring got started in the third inning as Oklahoma took the first lead of the afternoon on Garrett Buechele’s sacrifice fly to right field, plating Cale Ellis who was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame.
OU took a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning on Seitzer’s fourth home run of the year. The junior first baseman led off the inning by ripping Trey Masek’s offering over the fence in right field. Masek (5-4) faced three more batters before being relieved after 3.2 innings.
The Sooners extended their advantage to 3-0 in the fifth after loading the bases and receiving a balk from Texas Tech reliever John Neely, who would escap the frame after turning a double play.