NORMAN – The University of Oklahoma baseball team claimed its season-opening series with a 4-2 win over No. 17 Long Beach State at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Sunday afternoon. The Sooners improved to 2-1, while the Dirtbags head home with a 1-2 record.
Trailing 2-0, Oklahoma got a run back in the bottom of the fifth as freshman designated hitter Brady Lindsly (Keller, Texas) smacked a leadoff-double into the right field corner and scored on a RBI-single through the left side by senior catcher Renae Martinez (San Pedro, Calif.). An inning later, the Sooners tied the game and took the lead as they plated three runs on three hits and a pair of walks.
“Great senior leadership today,” emphasized head coach Pete Hughes. “Our three captains; Renae with a big RBI early, Stoney [O’Brien] with a huge situational sac-fly today in a big situation and then JB comes in and gets a six-out save. That’s your senior captains and the core leadership and all the corny coach stuff going a long way. I loved the fact that we played from behind in a rubber match. There was no panic, there was composure and a veteran approach of playing behind at home.”
Sophomore center fielder Steele Walker (Prosper, Texas) started the sixth with a triple into the right-center gap and scored on a sacrifice-fly from senior first baseman Austin O’Brien (Owasso, Okla.). Back-to-back walks then set the table for Oklahoma’s one-out, two-run rally. In his first appearance as a Sooner, junior Lorin Archibald (Renton, Wash.) delivered a pinch-hit, RBI-single to put OU in front. Freshman shortstop Brandon Zaragoza (Moore, Okla.) then doubled the Sooner lead with a single to center; marking his third straight game with a RBI.
Senior right-handed pitcher JB Olson (Shady Shores, Texas) entered as the third OU reliever on the day for his second appearance of the weekend at the top of the eighth. He nailed down his first save of the season by getting six outs and working around a hit in each frame to go with one strikeout.
In his first start since late-March, sophomore right-hander Kyle Tyler (Oklahoma City) left the game without a decision despite 5.2-strong innings of work. He gave up two runs on four hits and two walks with three strikeouts. Freshman lefty Braidyn Fink (Moore, Okla.), a former high school teammate of Tyler’s at Westmoore, was the first Sooner out of the bullpen and retired the lone Dirtbag he faced to finish the sixth. Fink (1-0) was credited with the win as Oklahoma came out to tie and take the lead in the bottom half of the frame.
“A positive for the weekend was to get three good starts,” Hughes said of his team’s starting pitching. “Kyle Tyler came out and minimized extra baserunners and good things happened. You look what happened that [fourth] inning; a leadoff-walk and then we can't field the bunt correctly. Fundamentals and the ability to throw strikes usually cuts down runs for your opponent.
Long Beach got each of its runs in the fourth as a leadoff-walk and a bunt-single set the table. Designated hitter Luke Rasmussen then followed with a two-run double to right-center that gave the Dirtbags the lead.
Long Beach’s right-handed starter John Sheaks (0-1) took the loss in 5.1 innings. He allowed three runs on four hits and two walks with two strikeouts.
For the game, OU outhit LBSU, 7-6 with Walker leading the way with a 2-for-4 day.
The Sooners are at home in the midweek with a pair of games against Grambling State at 3 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday.