Sooners Even Series at Minnesota
MINNEAPOLIS – Backed by excellent pitching from junior Nathan Wiles and a trio of relievers, the Oklahoma baseball team evened the series at Minnesota with a 2-1 victory Saturday afternoon at sunny Target Field.
Wiles (6-2) struck out six and allowed a run on just three hits over 6.1 innings for the Sooners (26-14). Freshman Wyatt Olds, sophomore Ledgend Smith and junior Jason Ruffcorn closed out the final 2.2 frames. Ruffcorn tallied four strikeouts in 1.2 innings and earned his ninth save of the season. The OU pitchers combined for 12 strikeouts and allowed just three hits.
First baseman Tyler Hardman drove in both runs for Oklahoma, drawing a bases-loaded walk in the third inning and driving an RBI double in the fifth inning. The Golden Gophers (17-19) scored their only run on a solo homer by right fielder Easton Bertrand in the bottom of the fifth. Starter Max Meyer (3-3) took the loss for Minnesota.
OU’s win sets up a rubber game at 11 a.m. Sunday back on Minnesota's campus at Siebert Field.
“Nathan was back to himself, executing pitches. He established what he needed to get done during the week, and it was fun to watch today,” Oklahoma head coach Skip Johnson said. “I told him, ‘You’ve exhausted everything. That’s when you know you’ve had a good day of work. Let the bullpen pick you up.’ That was a big strikeout by Wyatt, Ledgend was really good and Ruffcorn was outstanding. When you face a guy like that (Minnesota pitcher), runs are limited so you have to get them when you can. We established the lead and maintained the lead.”
Oklahoma took the lead in the third inning when Hardman drew a bases-loaded walk. The sophomore then doubled home left fielder Diego Muniz in the fifth inning to extend the lead to 2-0. The Sooners finished with five hits, including singles by designated hitter Jordan Vujovich, shortstop Brandon Zaragoza and center fielder Tanner Tredaway.
Wiles stranded the bases loaded in the first inning, then faced the minimum over the next three frames. Olds entered in relief of Wiles with one out and a runner on second and struck out the first batter he faced. Smith then induced a flyout to end the seventh and struck out the first batter of the eighth inning. Ruffcorn punched out his first three hitters and worked around a walk to end the game.