NORMAN – Freshman Cade Cavalli (Bixby, Okla.) started as the designated hitter for the University of Oklahoma baseball team and wound up the winning pitcher and scored the winning run in a 3-2 walk-off in the 10th inning at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Sunday afternoon. Cavalli’s game-winning run came on a sacrifice-fly to right field off the bat of sophomore shortstop Brandon Zaragoza (Moore, Okla.) to beat Valparaiso.
The Sooners picked up a pair of wins on the day to pull their record to an even 4-4. Oklahoma downed Holy Cross, 11-5, in the first game of the day before recording its third win of the weekend with the first walk-off of the season.
“They spent 22 hours last week on a Saturday and lost two games,” opened OU head coach Skip Johnson. “It was good to come in and play selfless baseball today. The first game they really situationally hit. You hit in certain situations like Mendenhall moving guys in the first inning. Scoring a couple of runs there, I thought that was huge. Then we kind of separated the game when we needed to in the middle part of that game which was really fantastic.”
Oklahoma scored a season-high 11 runs in the first game of the day. Junior left fielder Cade Harris (Leona, Texas) was 3-for-4 and a home run away from the cycle. He scored twice and drove in a pair of runs. Cavalli went 2-for-2 with a double, two RBI, two runs and two walks as the OU third baseman. Redshirt-sophomore center fielder Kyler Murray (Allen, Texas) added a three-run game with a hit and two walks plus his first stolen base of the season.
Senior right-hander Devon Perez (Ashburn, Va.) lasted just four innings in the start. He allowed four runs on six hits and a walk with one strikeout. Junior righty Ryan Madden (Westminster, Colo.) was the first Sooner called on from the bullpen. He loaded the bases with nobody out in the fifth, but got out of the jam unscathed. Madden (1-0) got the win in 2.1-scoreless innings by scattering three hits and striking out three.
“Winning is always good. The development side of it we can continue to work on it. The game is ultimately about you and the baseball, not about you and the opponent. If you can play better baseball and you can execute then it is a game of imperfection. So we got the bunt down when we had to and it was huge. Then Cade [Cavalli] came in when they got the bunt down and made some big pitches.”
In game two, Oklahoma got a single run in the second and against in the fourth. Senior second baseman Kyle Mendenhall (Carlsbad, Calif.) was responsible for driving in both runs. Murray hit a leadoff-double to left in the second and scored on a Mendenhall sacrifice-fly to right. Later, sophomore first baseman Brady Lindsly (Keller, Texas) lifted a ball to dead center that landed at the track for a leadoff-triple. He scored two batters later on Mendenhall’s single through the left side.
Valpo right-hander Wes Gordon kept his side in the game; not allowing an OU batter to reach between the sixth and ninth innings. He pitched through the ninth and allowed just the two runs, striking out seven and scattering six hits without allowing a walk.
The Crusaders got a run back in the sixth after Sooner junior RHP Kyle Tyler (Oklahoma City) had been lifted. He pitched 5.1 innings, struck out seven and got around five hits and two walks. Tyler worked himself out of bases loaded jams in the first and second and left a man at third in each of the first three frames.
Valpo got a man aboard on a hit-by-pitch in the sixth and right fielder Riley Dent cut the deficit in half with a RBI-double. The Crusaders tied the game in the top of the ninth against OU junior righty and closer Connor Berry (Sugar Land, Texas). Second baseman Chase Dawson hit a leadoff-single up the middle, was sacrificed into scoring position and scored on a double from left fielder Blake Billinger.
Cavalli (1-0), who was previously 0-for-3 with three strikeouts at the plate, took over on the hill for the 10th. He struck out the first batter he faced, but allowed the runner to reach on a wild pitch. After recording an out on a sacrifice-bunt, Cavalli struck out the next two to leave the runner at second. He then led off the bottom half by walking. Mendenhall was hit by a pitch and freshman catcher Justin Mitchell (Platte County, Mo.) laid down a sacrifice to put two in scoring position. Junior third baseman Brylie Ware (Sedgwick, Kan.) was intentionally walked to set up Zaragoza’s game-winning RBI.
The Sooners are scheduled to play at Dallas Baptist on Tuesday, Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. Sophomore right-hander Nathan Wiles (Overland Park, Kan.) is slated to get the ball.