NORMAN – The University of Oklahoma baseball team registered a 10-5 win over Little Rock at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Tuesday afternoon. The Sooners improved to 9-1 overall and ran their win-streak to eight games. The Trojans dropped to 2-6 with the loss.
Oklahoma grabbed a run in the first and second before Little Rock tied the game in the second. Senior first baseman Austin O’Brien (Owasso, Okla.) put the Sooners back in front in the third, 4-2, with a two-run home run to left field but the Trojans would use the long ball to tie the game once again. Center fielder Hunter Owens and shortstop Zach Baker hit back-to-back homers to start the third inning.
“I came out this morning and saw the flags and I knew the park was going to play offensive,” opened OU head coach Pete Hughes. “You know they’re going to score some runs, so you’ve got to have a confident offense that keeps their heads down and doesn’t look at the scoreboard. I thought we did a great job of that.”
Tied 4-4, Oklahoma used a six-run fifth to pull away as 10 Sooners went to the plate in the inning. Back-to-back one-out walks set the table for sophomore center fielder Steele Walker (Prosper, Texas), who pulled a base hit through the right side to drive in the go-ahead run and extend his hit-streak to 13 games. O’Brien followed with his third knock of the day; driving in his fourth run of the afternoon to push the OU lead to two runs.
The Sooners continued to hit as they strung together three consecutive two-out hits. Sophomore designated hitter Brylie Ware (Sedgwick, Kan.) and senior catcher Renae Martinez (San Pedro, Calif.) singled before redshirt-sophomore right fielder Quin Walbergh (Edmond, Okla.) delivered the knockout blow. Walbergh, who hit a solo home run in the second, blasted a two-out triple to the wall in left to cap the Oklahoma scoring.
“Sometimes as a coach, you look at your lineup and you feel you’re giving up a little bit of offense there for some defense, but I don’t do that with our lineup,” Hughes commented on the bottom of the Sooner order. “We have so many interchangeable pieces. I like the depth of our lineup and I love the fact that our 7-8-9 guys can drive runs in.”
A total of 16 pitchers were used in the game. Sophomore right-hander Ryan Madden (Westminster, Colo.) pitched three innings in the start for the Sooners. He allowed two runs on four hits and a walk with two strikeouts. Freshman right-hander Nathan Wiles (Overland Park, Kan.) pitched just 0.1 innings and earned the win. Wiles (2-0) surrendered one run on a hit and a walk. Sophomore right-hander Connor Berry (Sugar Land, Texas) tossed 1.1-scoreless innings of relief and struck out a team-high three batters.
Lefty Cole Townsend gave up four runs on four this and a walk with two strikeouts in a three-inning start for Little Rock. The Trojans’ first reliever, right-hander Matt McDowell (0-3), took the loss in 1.1 innings of work. He allowed one run on a hit and a walk.
As a team, Oklahoma posted eight two-out runs batted in and went 6-for-13 at the plate with two gone. O’Brien led the charge in a 3-for-4, four-RBI effort with two two-out, RBI-singles. Walbergh drove in three on a 2-for-4 day. Martinez also finished the game 2-for-4 with one run scored and one driven in.
“I thought the story of the game was those eight, two-out RBIs,” added Hughes. “I always talk to our guys that if you want to be a great club, you have to be a great two-out team, so I think that was a great thing for our program.”
The Trojans outhit the Sooners as Owens led the way with a homer and two doubles in a 3-for-4 game. Baker and left fielder Danny Mitchell Jr. also posted two-hit days.
Oklahoma returns to action on Friday, March 3 at 6:30 pm against Central Connecticut State at L. Dale Mitchell Park.