NORMAN – The University of Oklahoma baseball team opened its 19 Ways Invitational with a 9-2 win over Villanova at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Friday evening. The Sooners, who have won four in a row, improved to 5-1, while the Wildcats remain winless at 0-4.
Sophomore right-hander Jake Irvin (Bloomington, Minn.) was dominant on the mound for the second time in as many starts this season. He went seven innings with seven strikeouts. Irvin (2-0) opened the top of the first with three quick outs on just seven pitches to set the tone early. Oklahoma was leading 3-0 after the fifth before Villanova scratched across a run; ending Irvin’s 12-inning scoreless streak to start the season.
“You can go three-pitch mix with three good ones and then can go through a lineup three or four times and that’s good because it shortens the game for you, doesn’t beat up your bullpen, that’s what you want out of your Friday night guy. That’s what he is,” head coach Pete Hughes said of Irvin.
For the game, Irvin allowed four hits and two walks; yielding one run. He needed just 98 pitches to get through seven innings; the second time he has tossed under 100 to get through the seventh this season.
“He does have three plus-pitches, so that’s what he brings to the table. That kid is just a type A competitive everything he does, academics, anything. He’s got good stuff and he’s committed through things and you can’t limit your game plan against him now and it makes it difficult when there’s a third pitch,” Hughes commented on Irvin’s change-up.
Offensively, the Sooners backed Irvin with a single tally in the second, third and fourth. Senior first baseman Austin O’Brien (Owasso, Okla.) got the OU bats going with a leadoff-triple to left field. The ball was crushed and into a 20 MPH win and turned the defender around before landing as O’Brien slid into third with his second triple of the season. Two pitches later, senior third baseman Jack Flansburg (Orange, Calif.) singled home O’Brien with a base hit to center.
In the third, redshirt-freshman left fielder Kyler Murray (Allen, Texas) drew a one-out walk and put himself into scoring position by promptly stealing second base. Junior second baseman Kyle Mendenhall (Carlsbad, Calif.) singled sharply through the left side to put runners on the corners, which setup a RBI-force out hit into by sophomore center fielder Steele Walker (Prosper, Texas).
Sophomore designated hitter Brylie Ware (Sedgwick, Kan.) led off the fourth with a double to right-center and scored on a sacrifice-bunt by senior catcher Renae Martinez (San Pedro, Calif.) as the ball was fielded and thrown away.
Left-handed starter Hunter Schryver (0-2) left the game for Villanova with his team down 3-1 after the fifth inning. All three runs against him were earned on five hits and two walks with four strikeouts.
The Sooner offense then went to work against the Wildcats’ bullpen in the sixth. The first six men to the plate reached and Oklahoma poured in four runs on four hits. Ware singled, Martinez reached on a fielder’s choice and redshirt-sophomore right fielder Quin Walbergh (Edmond, Okla.) laid down a bunt up the third base side and won the race to first to the single, which loaded the bases. A bases-loaded walk to freshman shortstop Brandon Zaragoza (Moore, Okla.) brought in a run and turned the lineup back over to the top. Murray and Mendenhall each singled in a run with base hits through the left side and Walker added a second RBI-fielder’s choice.
For the game, the Sooners outhit the Wildcats, 11-5. Three players recorded multi-hit games for Oklahoma. Walker was 2-for-5 with four RBI; adding a two-run double in the eighth. Ware finished 2-for-2 with two runs and Mendenhall was 2-for-5 with one RBI. Murray was aboard three times with two walks and two runs in a 1-for-3 effort.
Sophomore right-hander Connor Berry (Sugar Land, Texas) was the second OU reliever of the game. He pitched 1.2 inning and struck out three to push the Oklahoma total to 10; reaching double figures for the fifth time in six games this season.
The Sooners are in action twice on Saturday. Oklahoma begins the day against Northern Illinois at 12 p.m. before a 6:30 pm nightcap in a rematch with Villanova. Sophomore righties Kyle Tyler (Oklahoma City) and Austin Hansen (Lenexa, Kan.) are scheduled to start on the hill. Between the two OU games, Boston College takes on Villanova at 3:30 pm. One ticket is goo to all three games.