|W - Garza (5-1)||2.0||0||0||0||0||4|
|L - Musgrave (3-3)||8.0||8||5||5||2||5|
|S - N/A||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|OU - James||3||1||2||3||0||1|
|OU - Neuse||3||2||2||0||1||0|
|Player of the Game|
|Mac James // Jr. // C
James went 2-for-3 with a two-run home run in the eighth that held up as the game-winning hit.
NORMAN, Okla. – Junior catcher Mac James (New Braunfels, Texas) belted a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth to break a tie and lead the way for a 5-3 win for the University of Oklahoma baseball team over West Virginia in front of 1,121 at L. Dale Mitchell Park, Friday evening. The Sooners improved to 25-15 overall, 5-6 in the Big 12 and snapped a five-game home losing streak. The Mountaineers dropped to 18-16 and 3-7.
“You should never, as college athlete when you have one college career, come out with no energy,” began head coach Pete Hughes. “I told those guys before the game that I am going to coach for a long time. I am going to have a lot more seasons. You guys have one college career and we have some guys that this is their last year. That has to mean something and that has to bring some urgency. Good for them. They came out and hopefully they can see the difference in coming out with some energy and some life and some competitiveness. We are a different team when we do that. But that is predicated off a good start, too. You can talk about energy and rah-rah but if you don't have a good start it deflates everyone.”
Redshirt-sophomore lefty Adam Choplick (Denton, Texas) pitched a career-best seven innings in a no-decision. He scattered six hits and two walks; yielding three runs, two earned, and struck out six. Sophomore right-hander Ralph Garza Jr. (New Braunfels, Texas) earned the win in two innings of relief. He leads the team in wins at 5-1 as he struck out four in two perfect frames. Garza entered for Choplick with a man aboard in the eighth and promptly struck out two and picked off one.
“I thought [Choplick] was really good,” added Hughes. “I thought he went out there after we scored some runs and had some shutdown innings too which is important with momentum and keeping it in your dugout. I thought he kept them off balance and he threw a lot of strikes with his slider. When you can do that, they are off balance and it makes your fastball even better.”
After Oklahoma kept its opponent off the board for the first time in six games, West Virginia grabbed a brief lead in the second. Left fielder Jacob Rice hit a lead-off single, advanced to third on a two-base error and scored on a double by right fielder Brad Johnson.
In the bottom of the second, the Sooners responded with a two-out rally. Junior second baseman Joshua Ake (Readington, N.J.) doubled to right-center and scored the tying run on a triple by sophomore center fielder Craig Aikin (Coppell, Texas) over the head of the WVU center fielder. He came the final 90 feet on a single placed into shallow right by redshirt-junior right fielder Taylor Alspaugh (Broken Arrow, Okla.).
The Mountaineers tied the game in the third, 2-2. Third baseman Michael Constantini drew a lead-off walk, was sacrificed to second and went to third on a base hit. With one out, second baseman Billy Fleming hit a sharp grounder to third, where freshman Sheldon Neuse (Fort Worth, Texas) fielded and threw to second for the force, but the throw to first was a shade late as Fleming beat it out and Constantini scored.
The two teams traded runs again as Oklahoma scored in the fifth on a James sac-fly that brought in Neuse, who banged his team-leading sixth triple of the season off the wall in left. West Virginia answered in the sixth on a single to left-center by Johnson that scored first baseman Ryan McBroom. The Mountaineers attempted a double steal, but Rice was thrown out on an attempt to steal home to end the threat.
To start off the eighth, Neuse lined a single through the left side for his second hit of the day to set up James’ two-run shot. For James, he went 2-for-3 with three RBI and picked up his fourth home run of the season. Neuse finished 2-for-3 and scored twice.
Left-hander Harrison Musgrave (3-3) pitched a complete game for West Virginia in a losing effort. He surrendered five runs on eight hits and two walks, while striking out five.
The series finale will be played at 12:00 pm on Saturday afternoon. Sophomore lefty Jacob Evans (Broken Arrow, Okla.) is scheduled to pitch for OU against right-hander Sean Carley.