NORMAN – The No. 18 University of Oklahoma baseball team swept a Saturday doubleheader against Central Connecticut State at L. Dale Mitchell Park by scores of 13-2 and 6-1. The Sooners ran their win-streak to 11 and improved to 12-1, while the Blue Devils evened their record at 4-4.
“These are long days and you can’t look too far ahead,” opened OU head coach Pete Hughes. “It was an important day for our program. We had to regroup after game one to face a really good arm. For us to beat to really good arms in that second game, that’s what I wanted to see. I wanted to see a tight game and some toughness from our team and we got that today.”
Oklahoma hitters totaled four home runs in the opener, including a three-run jack by sophomore Steele Walker (Prosper, Texas) in the fourth inning that gave the Sooners a 5-0 lead. Walker extended his hit-streak to 15 earlier in the game with a RBI-double and finished with a three-hit performance.
“He’s pretty focused and he’s not swinging at the pitcher’s pitch,” Hughes commented on Walker. “He has got a plan up there and if it’s out of the zone he’s been disciplined to wait for his pitch.”
Oklahoma pulled away late with eight runs combined in its last three trips to the plate. The Sooners put three runs on the board in the seventh, including back-to-back solo home runs by freshman catcher Brady Lindsly (Keller, Texas) and junior second baseman Kyle Mendenhall (Carlsbad, Calif.), his team-leading third of the season.
In the eighth, OU took advantage of three free passes and cashed in with four runs on its only hit of the frame. Freshman Jeremiah Adams (Mattapoisett, Mass.) was called on to pinch-hit and promptly blasted a grand slam out to left field.
Redshirt-junior left-handed pitcher Austin Kerns (Owasso, Okla.) earned the win for Oklahoma with three innings of relief. Kerns (1-1) allowed a run in the seventh inning and totaled four hits and a walk against him with three strikeouts. Sophomore righty Kyle Tyler (Oklahoma City) lasted four innings in the start. He held Central scoreless and to one hit, but walked four and struck out four.
Blue Devil right-hander Mike Appel (0-2) took the loss in 3.1 innings of work. He surrendered four run on four hits and three walks.
In game two, sophomore right-hander Austin Hansen (Lenexa, Kan.) pitched 5.2 innings of one-run ball to get the win. Hansen (2-0) allowed just one run in the fifth, which ended his scoreless-streak at 12 innings, and a total of four hits and a walk with six strikeouts.
The Sooners jumped on the board with two runs in the third. Freshman shortstop Brandon Zaragoza (Moore, Okla.) laced a leadoff-single and scored from second on a sacrifice attempt that was thrown away. Mendenhall doubled the OU lead with a RBI-single to right-center.
Late in the game, Walker ripped a double in the seventh inning to move his hit-streak to 16 games. He finished the nightcap 2-for-4 as he singled in the eighth as well.
Right-hander Andrew Hinckley (2-1) came out on the short-end in a five-inning start for CCSU. He struck out eight and gave up three runs, two earned, on five hits and two walks.
Oklahoma and Central Connecticut will take the field in the series finale Sunday at 1 p.m. The Sooners turn to sophomore right-hander Ryan Madden (Westminster, Colo.) on the mound.