CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- Senior infielder Jack Mayfield crushed a three-run home run over the left field wall in the bottom of the eighth inning to push the No. 14-ranked University of Oklahoma baseball team to its ninth straight win to open the 2013 season courtesy of a 10-8 come-from-behind victory over New Mexico in the third game of the 2013 Kleberg Bank College Classic for both squads Sunday at Whataburger Field, the home of the Houston Astros' Double-A affiliate, the Corpus Christi Hooks.
"We continue to be impressed by the way our players care about one another," said eighth-year head coach Sunny Golloway. "They all really seem to enjoy each other's company. I always call them a 'band of brothers.'"
The Sooners (9-0) are off to their best start since flying out of the gates to a 16-0 mark in 2011. Oklahoma won the 2013 Kleberg Bank College Classic with a perfect 3-0 record on the weekend. The Sooners topped Iowa, 3-1, on Friday before taking down host Texas A&M Corpus Christi, 4-2, Saturday. OU is now 15-1 all-time against the Lobos (2-4).
"I thought where we really improved over the weekend was our ability to run the bases and play situational baseball," said Golloway, who saw his team tally nine stolen bases on the weekend in Corpus Christi. "I was really impressed with the speed of some of our players on the base path. I thought that was the difference in the weekend. I know we're going to be able to hit the ball out every now and then and show mental toughness but where we improved drasctically was running the bases."
OU pounded out a season-high 14 hits as a team. Junior infielder Matt Oberste, the reigning Big 12 Conference Player of the Week, put together another big game for the Sooners, going 3-for-4 with his third home run of the season, a three-run blast in the first inning. He has hit safely in 12 consecutive games dating back to the 2012 season and has posted five multi-hit games and six multi-RBI games in 2013. Freshman outfielder Craig Aikin, senior outfielder/infielder Max White, freshman infielder Kolbey Carpenter and junior infielder Hector Lorenzana joined Mayfield and Oberste in posting multi-hit efforts against the Lobos.
Mayfield was named MVP of the 2013 Kleberg Bank College Classic while Oberste, Aikin and junior southpaw ace Dillon Overton earned places on the All-Classic Team.
Five Sooners batted .300 or better on the weekend, including Oberste (.417), Mayfield (.385), White (.364), Lorenzana (.333) and Aikin (.308).
Freshman right-handed reliever Ralph Garza, Jr. earned his first collegiate victory on the mound, striking out two over the final 2.1 frames of the game. Junior southpaw starting pitcher Billy Waltrip, who made a spot start in place freshman righty Corey Copping, fanned nine over five frames. OU's pitching staff struck out a season-high 13.
After New Mexico landed the first punch of the game on a two-out solo home run by junior infielder DJ Peterson in the top of the first, the Sooners struck back by putting up a five spot in the home half. Aikin got things started by reaching on an infield single, then advanced to second on an error by New Mexico junior first baseman Alex Real that allowed Mayfield to reach.White then reached on a throwing error by New Mexico senior right-handed starting pitcher Sam Wolff, allowing Aikin to score and tie the game. That set the table for Oberste, who crushed a three-run round tripper over the left field wall to put the Sooners in front. Freshman outfielder Hunter Haley coaxed a one-out walk and scored one out later on a single through the left side by Lorenzana to make it 5-1 in favor of Oklahoma.
After the squads traded two scoreless innings, the Lobos responded by plating seven runs over the ensuing four frames to take an 8-5 lead.
The Sooners began their rally in the seventh when Mayfield sent a leadoff single into left. White drove him home with a double to left center. After moving to third on a ground out by Oberste, White tagged up and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by senior infielder Garrett Carey to cut New Mexico's lead to one.
Oklahoma then used some two-out lightning to jump back in front in the eighth. Lorenzana doubled down the left field line, then advanced to third on a wild pitch. Aikin followed by coaxing a walk to put runners on the corners and set the table for Mayfield's go-ahead home run.
OU completed the comeback in the top of the ninth as Garza, Jr. retired the side to seal the win.
Oklahoma welcomes Pepperdine to L. Dale Mitchell Park next weekend for a three-game set.