ARLINGTON, Texas – Redshirt-junior right fielder Taylor Alspaugh (Broken Arrow, Okla.) belted the first pitch of the 10th inning over the wall in the right field corner, leading the way for a 3-2 win for the University of Oklahoma baseball team over Texas-Arlington on Tuesday night. The Sooners improved to 12-5 on the season, in front of 1,858 at Globe Life Park, home of the Texas Rangers. The Mavericks fell to 5-11 with the loss.
“I love playing tight games because I want to see what type of club we have,” said head coach Pete Hughes. “I know when we get into conference play, we’ll have a bunch of those tight ones that we’ll have to win late and have to play from behind, We had a win set up for ourselves and it was taken out of our hands. You’ve got to figure out how to get three, outs, get back into the dugout and get the win.”
For Alspaugh it was his only hit of the night, but his second home run of the season.
“Taylor is an older guy, he’s been around this game,” stated Hughes. “Instead of panicking, he came in and put a quality swing on a ball and got us going. We didn’t have too long to feel sorry for ourselves when he hit a lead-off home run.”
UTA forced extra innings with a run off OU sophomore right-handed closer Ralph Garza Jr. (New Braunfels, Texas) in the bottom of the ninth. Right fielder John Michael Twichell was hit by a pitch to lead things off and sacrificed into scoring position. Second baseman Darien McLemore, who entered the game in the seventh as a pinch-hitter, then lined a double into right-center to score Twichell and tied the game, 2-2.
Garza (1-0) stayed on to pitch a scoreless 10th frame to earn his first victory of the season. Senior RHP Kindle Ladd (McKinney, Texas) was the first Sooner out of the bullpen. He tossed five shutout innings; allowing just three hits and one walk, while striking out three.
“Hats off to one of the most unselfish guys in our program, Kindle Ladd,” continued Hughes. “Kindle was awesome. He was just pounding the zone. He settled everyone down. He comes in bases loaded, no outs and he provided some very valuable damage control.”
Ladd entered the game in the bottom of the fourth with the bases loaded and nobody out. He allowed a sacrifice-fly and got a groundball double play to end the scoring threat at just one run. Junior righty-hander Connor Buchmann (Keller, Texas) went three-plus innings in his third start of the season. He didn’t allow a hit, but walked five and struck out one as he surrendered the one run.
Oklahoma jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first inning. Freshman third baseman Sheldon Neuse (Fort Worth, Texas) collected his first of four hits with a two-out double and scored on a base hit to center by junior catcher Mac James (New Braunfels, Texas). Neuse finished the day 4-for-5 with two doubles and two runs.
Neuse started the sixth inning with a single up the middle. Sophomore left fielder Hunter Haley (Nacogdoches, Texas) followed with a single of his own to put two men on with one out. After a strikeout, freshman DH Niko Buentello (Lewisville, Texas) stepped up to the plate and laced a double to left-center to bring in Neuse with the go-ahead run. Buentello went 2-for-3 on the day.
For the Mavericks, lefty Chase Weaver lasted four innings in the start; allowing one run on four hits and two walks. Righty Colin Tornberg (0-1) took the loss in one inning of relief. He let up one run on two hits.
At the plate, UTA was held to five hits. McLemore recorded a 2-for-3 day.
The Sooners return to action with a three-game home series against Belmont. Game one is Friday, March 14 at 6:00 pm at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
· Oklahoma used its 14th different lineup of the season as Joshua Ake made his first start at second base.
· This game marked OU’s first extra-inning game of the season.
· Neuse registered his sixth multi-hit game of the season and first four-hit game.
· The Sooners have hit 13 home runs in 17 games.
· Ladd’s five-scoreless innings was the longest outing of the season by an OU reliever.
· Oklahoma reached double figures in hits for the ninth time this season. Three runs is the lowest amount scored by the Sooners when recorded 10 or more hits.