NORMAN, Okla. – The University of Oklahoma baseball team totaled 19 hits for 16 runs in game one and rallied for six in the eighth inning of game two to erase a four-run deficit as it swept a doubleheader with Rutgers at L. Dale Mitchell Park, Friday evening. The Sooners won by scores of 16-11 and 7-5 to improve to 11-4 on the season, while the Scarlet Knights dropped to 3-8.
“I thought we had some good balance,” stated head coach Pete Hughes. “A lot of guys got some big hits for us, so it was a good day offensively. I told the guys to win in our league, we’re going to have to win tight games and we’re going to have to win late and sometimes come from behind. That felt like a conference game to me.”
Oklahoma trailed 5-1 entering the bottom of the eighth after giving up five unanswered runs. Freshman first baseman Niko Buentello (Lewisville, Texas) got the rally started with a lead-off double to left field. Junior catcher Mac James (New Braunfels, Texas) drove in Buentello with a double down the right field line. Redshirt-junior right fielder Taylor Alspaugh (Broken Arrow, Okla.) then picked up a two-run double to left-center to score two runs.
On Alspaugh’s double, James held up at second to get a read on the ball then ran through the stop sign at third base to score at home.
After a walk put runners on the corners, junior second baseman Keach Ballard (Durant, Okla.) laced a double down the right field line to score Alspaugh and tie the game, 5-5. Sophomore center fielder Craig Aikin (Coppell, Texas) came through with the go-ahead knock on a triple drilled to deep center field that scored two and gave Oklahoma the lead for good.
Sophomore righty Ralph Garza Jr. (New Braunfels, Texas) came on to close the door in the ninth and worked a 1-2-3 inning to earn his fourth save and third in as many days. Senior right-hander Kyle Hayes (Santee, Calif.) was credited with the win as he threw one-scoreless inning and struck out two to improve to 2-0 on the year.
The Sooners scored the first run of the game in the fifth inning and Rutgers answered with one in the sixth, two in the seventh, including a go-ahead solo home run by right fielder Tom Marcinczyk, and two in the eighth. Marcinczyk drove in two runs on the night, while the first four batters in the Scarlet Knight lineup each had two hits.
Redshirt-sophomore lefty Adam Choplick (Denton, Texas) pitched his third quality start of the season as he lasted 6.2 innings and gave up two runs on seven hits and one walk, while striking out six. For Rutgers, right-hander Kyle Driscoll lasted six innings and allowed just one unearned run on three hits, despite four walks and five strikeouts. The loss went to right-handed closer Jon Young (0-2). He pitched 1.1 innings and surrendered six runs, five earned, on four hits and one walk.
In game one, Buentello, James and sophomore left fielder Hunter Haley (Nacogdoches, Texas) all drove in three runs as Oklahoma matched its highest run total of the season with 16.
Rutgers snagged an early 3-0 lead off sophomore righty Corey Copping (Temple City, Calif.) in the second inning, but the Sooners immediately stormed back and took the lead in the bottom half.
A two-out rally started with a RBI double by senior shortstop Hector Lorenzana (San Diego, Calif.), followed by a RBI double from Ballard. OU took the lead on a two-run double by sophomore Anthony Hermelyn (McKinney, Texas) to go up 4-3. Buentello added to the Sooner lead with a shot over the batter’s eye in center field, which at its base is 411’ away. The two-run home run was the second of the season for Buentello.
Copping went 4.1 innings in a no-decision as he was tagged for five runs, four earned, on seven hits and three walks to go with a pair of strikeouts. Redshirt-junior RHP Robert Tasin (Klein, Texas) got the win in 1.1 innings of relief. Tasin (2-0) gave up three runs, two earned, on two hits.
Right-hander Kevin Baxter (0-2) gave up 10 runs on 12 hits in a four-inning start for Rutgers.
The Sooners totaled a season-high seven doubles in the win. Haley, James and Aikin all went 3-for-5. For the day, James went 5-for-8 with four RBI and one run.
Oklahoma and Rutgers are off on Saturday and will wrap up the series Sunday afternoon at 12:00 pm.
· Oklahoma repeated a lineup for the first time this season in game one of the doubleheader.
· The Sooners lead the all-time series with Rutgers, 3-0. Friday marked the first meeting in the series since 1998.
· Oklahoma is 8-1 at home this season.
· The Sooners have scored two or more runs in an inning 30 times this season and three or more 20 times.
· In game one, Oklahoma scored 16 runs marking the first time with 15 or more since scoring 16 in a win over Arkansas Pine Bluff (2/18/14).
· The Sooners’ 19 hits in game one is the second most on the season.
· Rutgers’ 11 runs in game one is the most given up by OU this season and the first time allowing 10 or more since at Baylor (4/14/13).
· James leads Oklahoma with nine multi-hit and five multi-RBI games in just 14 played.
· Haley had an eight-game hitting streak snapped in game two.