NORMAN, Okla. – For the second straight game, redshirt-junior right fielder Taylor Alspaugh (Broken Arrow, Okla.) picked up the game-winning hit on the first pitch he saw in the 10th inning to propel the University of Oklahoma baseball team to a 4-3 extra-inning win over Belmont at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Friday night. The Sooners improved to 13-5, while the Bruins dropped to 7-10.
“I’m really happy for [Alspaugh],” said head coach Pete Hughes. “He is a kid who is riding with a lot of confidence right now. It always seems like he is up there in that situation to be able to give us a quality at-bat and he has done it.”
Oklahoma loaded the bases with nobody out to open the 10th frame. Freshman third baseman Sheldon Neuse (Fort Worth, Texas) lined a double to the wall in right field to lead off and went to third on a sacrifice bunt that saw senior pinch-hitter Dylan Neal (McKinney, Texas) reach on an error.
An intentional walk to junior first baseman Mac James (New Braunfels, Texas) brought sophomore left fielder Hunter Haley (Nacogdoches, Texas) to the plate with no outs. After a Belmont pitching change, Haley battled through an eight-pitch at-bat before grounding into a fielder’s choice as the Bruins got the force of Neuse at home plate. The infield moved to double play depth, but the outfield moved in and Alspaugh placed a single into the left-center gap to plate the winning run in walk-off fashion.
Three Sooner relievers combined to throw seven scoreless-innings. Sophomore right-hander Ralph Garza Jr. (New Braunfels, Texas) got the win with a quick 1-2-3 top of the 10th to improve to 2-0. Senior right-hander Kyle Hayes (Santee, Calif.) was the first out of the bullpen and tossed four shutout-innings, while allowing just one hit and one walk to go with three strikeouts. Redshirt-senior righty Drew Krittenbrink (Okarche, Okla.) followed with four strikeouts across two innings of work and two hits allowed.
“Nothing but zeroes from the fourth inning on,” Hughes stated. “That’s a veteran presence in your bullpen and those guys can just settle everyone down and give our offense a chance to get back in the game.”
Belmont scored all three of its runs early with one in the first and two in the third. Sophomore right-hander Corey Copping (Temple City, Calif.) started and lasted just three innings for OU. He allowed all three runs on four hits and one walk, while striking out a pair.
After falling behind in the top of the first, Oklahoma answered with a run of its own in the bottom half. The Sooners loaded the bases with nobody out, but Bruin starting right-hander Austin Coley yielded just one run on a groundball double play and ended the threat with another groundball out. Coley finished the night after seven innings. He surrendered two runs, one earned, on five hits and five walks to go with three strikeouts.
Oklahoma rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth inning. Sophomore Kolbey Carpenter (Waco, Texas) got it started with a one-out, pinch-hit single through the right side. Junior second baseman Keach Ballard (Durant, Okla.) was hit by a pitch and a groundout to the right side put both runners in scoring position with two outs. With sophomore catcher Anthony Hermelyn (McKinney, Texas) at the plate, Belmont right-handed reliever Chase Cunningham (1-2) skipped a wild pitch to the backstop to bring in Carpenter with the game-tying run. Cunningham took the loss in one inning of work; allowing two runs on two hits and a walk, while striking out a pair.
“[Carpenter and Neal] have been on the bench for a while now,” concluded Hughes. “Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, they were ready. I told them exactly what we needed and those guys—unselfish guys are ready in those situations to deliver when you haven’t played a whole lot. It was a good team win.”
For the game, the Sooners outhit the Bruins, 8-7. Fifteen different players recorded a hit in the game.
Oklahoma and Belmont play again on Saturday at 6:00 pm.
· This game marked OU’s second extra-inning game of the season.
· Hayes retired the first 11 batters he faced.
· The Sooners have allowed a first-inning run in only four games and are outscoring opponents, 22-6, in the first.
· James had a nine-game hit streak end as he went 0-for-3 with a hit by pitch and intentional walk.
· Oklahoma’s last walk-off victory was against TCU (3/24/13). Hunter Haley had the walk-off hit.
· Sooner relievers have pitched 55 shutout innings of the 72 complete innings pitched by the unit.
· The game marked the first meeting between the two schools since they first met in 1978; a 21-1 OU win.
· Oklahoma is 5-1 in Friday games.
· Ballard extended his hitting streak to six games.