|No. 28 Oklahoma||0||0||0||3||0||0||5||0||0||8||9||1|
NORMAN, Okla. – The Sooners took advantage of a stiff wind out to center field as they put up five runs in the seventh inning to give first-year head coach Pete Hughes his first win with the Oklahoma baseball team, 8-2 over Seton Hall on Saturday afternoon. OU evened its record at 1-1 in front of 1,302 fans at L. Dale Mitchell Park, while the Pirates dropped to 1-1.
“I talked [about playing loose] with them today and I think we started a little different club today with a different approach than some of the guys that were playing,” stated Hughes.
The five-run seventh was highlighted by back-to-back home runs off the bats of freshman third baseman Sheldon Neuse (Fort Worth, Texas) and sophomore catcher Anthony Hermelyn (McKinney, Texas). For each, it was the first home run at the collegiate level.
Leading 3-2, the Sooners went to work against the SHU bullpen in the seventh. After back-to-back one-out walks, redshirt-junior right fielder Taylor Alspaugh (Broken Arrow, Okla.) laid a bunt single down the third base line and junior shortstop Joshua Ake (Readington, N.J.) scored on the play after a throwing error. After a pitching change, Neuse strode to the plate and belted a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left center for a three-run home run. Hermelyn then added his own, nearly in the same spot, on the first pitch of his at-bat. It was the first time OU hit back-to-back home runs since 2010.
Redshirt-sophomore lefty Adam Choplick (Denton, Texas) earned the win in a six-inning effort. He allowed one run on four hits and a walk, while striking out five. For Seton Hall, lefty Anthony Elia put up six innings and gave up three runs on four hits and three walks to go with a pair of strikeouts.
“I thought [Choplick] was awesome,” stated Hughes. “I thought he threw a lot of strikes and pitched well with runners on base, when he had to. He fielded his position and his fastball was really good.”
Little offense was had by other side in the first three innings. In the top of the fourth, SHU right fielder Chris Selden hit a pop-fly double that landed between short and left. He came around to score on a double by third baseman Kyle Grimm that hit off the wall to the left of the 411-foot mark in left-center.
The Sooners promptly answered with a three-spot in the bottom half of the fourth. Alspaugh singled for the first Sooner hit of the day with one out on a groundball up the middle. He then scored on a triple to left by Neuse. Hermelyn drove in Neuse with a base hit through the left side to give OU the lead and would later score on a RBI groundout by senior second baseman Hector Lorenzana (San Diego, Calif.). Oklahoma strung together four straight hits in the inning as freshman DH Niko Buentello (Lewisville, Texas) added a single through the right side the moved Hermelyn up to third base.
Neuse finished the day 2-for-4 with four RBI and two runs scored, while Hermelyn went 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. Alspaugh added a pair of runs and a 2-for-5 effort.
Despite two errors by Seton Hall and one by Oklahoma, the game featured several defensive gems. On Lorenzana’s RBI groundout, SHU shortstop D.J. Ruhlman made the play behind the mound and threw on the run to barely get the out at first. Lorenzana answered with two outs and a runner on second with a sliding play deep in the hole to end a scoring chance in the top of the fifth. The defensive highlight of the game came from Alspaugh who ran in from deep right to make a sliding play under Lorenzana in the shallow outfield to lead-off the sixth.
The Sooners and the Pirates play the rubber match of the series Sunday at 1:00 pm.
· Sheldon Neuse’s first career hit was an RBI triple to tie the game in the fourth.
· Anthony Hermelyn hit in the cleanup spot for the first time in his career.
· Hermelyn hit his first career home run in the seventh.
· Neuse hit his first career 3-run home run in the seventh.
· OU hit back-to-back home runs for the first time since May 7, 2010 vs. Oklahoma State when Cody Reine and Chris Ellison went deep.
· Head Coach Pete Hughes picked up his first career win as a Sooner.
· The win marked the first in program history against Seton Hall.
· Neuse is the first Sooner to drive in four runs in a game since Matt Oberste vs. Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament on May 26, 2013.
· Oklahoma has totaled 2,509 fans in attendance through its first two games.