Sooners Win Slugfest to Open Regional

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
Miss. State
Mississippi State

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.  – The three-seeded Oklahoma baseball team opened the Tallahassee Regional with a 20-10 victory over No. 2 seed Mississippi State Friday at Dick Howser Stadium. OU improved to 37-23 overall, while the Bulldogs fell to 31-26.

Down 10-7, the Sooners crossed nine runs on seven hits in the seventh inning to rally past the Bulldogs. OU jumped out to 5-0 a lead through an inning and a half before the Bulldogs belted four home runs to take a seven-run lead through six innings. The Sooners tacked on four more runs in the ninth to score 20 runs in a postseason game for the first time since 1986.

OU tied its season high with 22 hits against the Bulldogs. Sophomore shortstop Brandon Zaragoza led the Sooners with his first career four-hit game, finishing 4-of-7 with a double, three runs scored and a career-high four RBI.

Seven of OU’s nine starters finished with at least two hits. Junior left fielder Blake Brewster drove in three, scored three times and finished 3-for-5. Senior second baseman Kyle Mendenhall was 3-for-5 at the plate with three RBI and three runs scored, while junior designated hitter Thomas Hughes recorded two RBI and finished 3-for-5.

Freshman catcher Justin Mitchell recorded a pair of RBI, scored twice and finished 2-for-5. Junior center fielder Cade Harris doubled and finished 2-for-3 with three runs scored, while Brylie Ware singled twice and scored three times.

OU plated four runs in the first and extended its lead to 5-0 in the second inning on a RBI single by Zaragoza. Mississippi State quickly responded with up two runs in the second and added three more in the third to tie the game at 5-5.

In the fourth, the Sooners grabbed the lead back on a RBI single from Mitchell, while Mendenhall followed with his ninth sacrifice fly of the season to put in front, 7-5. In the bottom half, Mississippi State used a pair of two-run home runs to take a 9-5 lead and chase OU starting pitcher Jake Irvin from the game. 

In the nine-run seventh inning, the Sooners picked seven hits and sent 15 batters to the plate to take the lead for good. OU’s nine runs in the frame were the most scored by the Sooners in one inning this season.

OU extended its lead to 20-10 in the ninth, using four consecutive doubles of the bats of Brady Lindsly, Brewster, Harris and Zaragoza.

Junior right-hander Kyle Tyler earned the win for the Sooners in relief of Irvin. The junior (6-2) tossed 2.2 innings and allowed two runs on three hits, while striking out. OU’s bullpen combined to hold the Bulldogs to just two earned runs over the final 5.2 innings. In his 16th start of the season, Irvin pitched 3.1 innings and gave up a season-high eight runs (seven earned), while striking out six.

JP France (4-5) took the loss for the Bulldogs, giving up four earned runs on four hits, while striking out one and walking two. Left-hander Konnor Pilkington started for Mississippi State, but lasted just 3.1 innings and gave up six runs and six runs (five earned) to  go along with four strikeouts and four walks.

OU will face No. 4 seed Samford on Saturday at 4 p.m. CT. The Bulldogs defeated host Florida State, 7-6, Friday night. The Sooners will turn to sophomore right-handed pitcher Nathan Wiles on Saturday.