NORMAN, Okla. – The University of Oklahoma baseball team pushed across three runs in the fourth inning to provide all of the offense in a 3-1 win over Abilene Christian at L. Dale Mitchell Park, Thursday afternoon. The Sooners improved to 9-4 with the win, while the Wildcats dropped to 6-4.
Junior catcher Mac James (New Braunfels, Texas) drove in the first run of the game on a double to right-center. Sophomore left fielder Hunter Haley (Nacogdoches, Texas) walked with one out and stopped after rounding third then proceeded home with the go-ahead run. James took third on the throw home and scored on a base hit through the right side by redshirt-junior right fielder Taylor Alspaugh (Broken Arrow, Okla.).
Alspaugh stole second base and was brought around to score on a double down the right field line by junior second baseman Keach Ballard (Durant, Okla.).
“That was a tough game,” started head coach Pete Hughes. “That was a grinder. You look at the stat sheet and we don’t win that game I would imagine. How many left on base for them? Eleven. We had five. We made four errors.”
Junior right-hander Connor Buchmann (Keller, Texas) lasted 3.2 innings in the start for OU. He allowed two hits and walked a pair, while striking out five. Sophomore left-hander Jacob Evans (Broken Arrow, Okla.) was the first Sooner on in relief as he tossed 3.1-shutout innings. Evans (1-1) earned the win as he allowed five hits and struck out six, matching his career-high.
“I thought Buchmann was good,” continued Hughes. “I thought we got them out of there at the right time. The best thing that came out of today was Jacob Evans feeling good about himself and having a quality outing, pitching in pressured situations and key situations and getting us out. I’m happy for Jacob. It’s good for our team and Ralph is so dependable. He’s going to throw strikes. He’s going to throw strikes with two pitches. He’s going to work fast. He’s going to compete like crazy. He matched up good for us.”
The first five outs recorded by Evans were all strikeouts. He induced his team-leading fourth double play of the season to end the top of the sixth.
Sophomore righty Ralph Garza Jr. (New Braunfels, Texas) came on with one out in the eighth and the bases loaded. He extinguished the situation on just three pitches as he got an inning-ending groundball double play. Garza stayed on to pitch the ninth and record his third save of the season and second in as many games.
Right-hander Nate Cole (1-2) pitched four innings in the start for ACU; taking the loss. He surrendered three runs on five hits and a walk, while striking out three.
For the game, Oklahoma was outhit, 8-7 and committed four errors; none of which led to runs.
At the plate, James finished the day 3-for-3 with his team-leading seventh multi-hit game of the season. Catcher Seth Spivey and second baseman Gunnar Buhner each notched two hits for Abilene Christian.
The Sooners are in action again on Friday for a doubleheader against Rutgers beginning at 3:00 pm. Game two will start 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one. One ticket will be good for both games and tickets purchased for Saturday’s game will also be good on Friday.
· The Sooners have rolled out 13 different starting lineups in 13 games this season.
· Craig Aikin, in center field, is the only Sooners to start all 13 games at the same position.
· Sheldon Neuse batted in the clean-up spot for the first time in his career.
· James has seven multi-hit and two three-hit games on the season.
· Evans, the OU opening day starter, made his first relief appearance of the season.
· The Sooners have scored two or more runs in an inning 26 times.
· Oklahoma’s bullpen has totaled 40 scoreless innings of the 50 complete innings thrown.
· Redshirt-senior RHP Drew Krittenbrink allowed the first run of his career. He has tossed 24.1 career innings.