NORMAN – The Sooners picked up where they left off Friday night as the University of Oklahoma baseball team quickly clinched its first Big 12 series of the year with a 10-2 win over West Virginia in front of 1,556 at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Saturday. Oklahoma followed with a 2-1 win in the nightcap and improved to 17-9 overall and 3-0 in the Big 12 with its first league sweep since 2015 and first to open conference play since 2013.
“It says a lot,” OU head coach Skip Johnson said of winning two different types of games. “I mean, what they are really focused on are the fundamentals. What we talk about every day and preach every day about being in control of yourself and what matters is execution in the baseball. Our quality of at-bats in the first game were outstanding. Then in the very first part of this [second] game was outstanding. Then we kind of got away from it and then when they scored we had some quality at-bats in that inning, so it was huge.”
The Mountaineers (9-12, 0-3) broke up an early pitcher’s duel in game one with two runs in the top of the fourth off OU junior right-hander Devon Perez (Ashburn, Va.). The Sooners responded with a seven-run home half to flip the deficit into a five-run lead. Sophomore catcher Brady Lindsly (Keller, Texas) started the inning with a base hit up the middle and junior third baseman Brylie Ware (Sedgwick, Kan.) was hit by a pitch to set the table. A throwing error on a sacrifice attempt allowed both runners to score and tie the game.
Junior left fielder Cade Harris (Leona, Texas) put Oklahoma in front with a sacrifice-fly and the Sooners were off and running in the opener. A second sac-fly, a bases-loaded walk and finally a two-run double by Ware made it 7-2 OU.
The Sooners put a three-spot on the board an inning later on four hits and an error. Redshirt-sophomore center fielder Kyler Murray (Allen, Texas) picked up a RBI-single and Lindsly added a RBI-double past third.
Perez (3-0) won his third start in a row as he matched his career-high with seven innings pitched. He scattered four hits and one walk, yielding two runs, on earned, to go with six strikeouts. For WVU, RHP Alek Manoah (1-3) took the loss in 3.2 innings of work. He gave up seven runs, only two earned, on six hits and four walks with four strikeouts.
“The second game was a lot about execution and what we talk about,” added Johnson. “They had a good arm throwing and we lead off with a double, we bunt him over, we execute using the middle of the field. The same thing happened when they tied it. I thought that was really good; all weekend even though we separated the game in the first two games, but when they scored we scored. And that just shows us the spirit of our team.”
In the nightcap, Harris doubled to start the bottom of the first and scored from third on a RBI-groundout by junior right fielder Steele Walker (Prosper, Texas) to the right side.
On the mound, sophomore righty Nathan Wiles (Overland Park, Kan.) faced the minimum with one hit against him through five. Mountaineer second baseman Kyle Gray led off the sixth with a double, was sacrificed to third and scored on a RBI-single chopped over a pulled in infield by center fielder Brandon White to tie the game. Wiles left the game with the score knotted 1-1 and WVU’s potential go-ahead aboard. Freshman lefty Levi Prater (Ada, Okla.) entered and allowed White to advance on a failed pickoff attempt before getting two groundball outs to end the threat.
Prater (1-1) got the win in two innings of relief. He walked one, did not allow a hit and struck out three. Wiles went 5.1 innings in the no-decision, surrendering one run on three hits with no walks and five strikeouts. Junior RHP Connor Berry (Sugar Land, Texas) entered in the ninth with two down and the tying run at second to get a strikeout and his fifth save of the season.
Right-hander Kade Strowd (2-3) allowed two runs on four hits and two walks with four strikeouts in the loss. Right fielder Darius Hill combined to go 3-for-6 in the doubleheader.
The Sooners return to action for a midweek, non-conference Bedlam tilt on Tuesday, March 27. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are schedule for a 6:30 p.m. first pitch in Norman.