CHARLESTON, W. Va.. -- Two of the Big 12’s top aces faced off, but it took extra innings to decide Friday night’s duel between No. 10 Oklahoma and West Virginia at Appalachian Power Park.
The Sooners (34-12, 11-5 Big 12) rallied to beat the Mountaineers (27-20, 9-7) 4-3 in 10 innings.
“All the Big 12 games that we’ve won have been just like that,” OU head coach Sunny Golloway said. “They’ve been grinders. Even the ones we lost have been just like that. We understood it was going to be tough, but we understood when we got down 2 to nothing, it wasn’t going to be over.”
Freshman centerfielder Craig Aikin fouled off four 2-2 count pitches before plating the game-winning run. Garrett Carey scored when Aikin’s chopper to shortstop forced a fielder’s choice out at second and then Jacob Evans (6-1) retired the Mountaineers in order to seal the victory.
Evans allowed just one hit in two innings of work and closed the game with a strikeout of Jacob Rice. The freshman lefthander completed his 19th appearance without allowing a run.
Jonathan Gray lasted eight innings, but left in a 3-3 tie after facing 32 batters and tossing 111 pitches. Gray allowed a season-high nine hits, but struck out six. His 100th punchout of the season came in the second inning, making Gray the sixth Sooner ever to record back-to-back 100-strikeout seasons.
Gray, the Big 12’s leader in strikeouts and earned run average, pitched opposite West Virginia’s Harrison Musgrave, who earned National Pitcher of the Week honors two weeks ago after a complete game shutout at Texas.
Neither would earn a decision after the Sooners rallied in the eighth inning. Musgrave’s night ended after seven innings with a lead in place after giving up just two runs on four hits.
Down 3-2, leadoff Jack Mayfield reached on shortstop Taylor Munden’s fielding error and advanced to second on Anthony Hermelyn’s sacrifice bunt. Two at-bats later, Hector Lorenzana singled a 1-1 pitch through the right side and Mayfield arrived safely at home when the ball slipped from catcher Alan Filauro’s glove as he applied a tag.
“I thought the difference was, in the fourth inning, even though it was 2-2, their guy had 72 pitches and our guy had 67. They’re both in trouble. Our guys did a great job to get (Musgrave) to 125 pitches in the seventh inning. Our guy got a four-pitch inning back-to-back, and that’s why he was able to stay on the mound a little bit longer. And we needed it.”
The Mountaineers’ aggressiveness worked against them in the sixth and seventh innings. As Gray neared 100 pitches, he finished both innings in four pitches as West Virginia batters swung at anything near the plate.
Matt Frazer hit RBI doubles in the second and fourth innings to twice put West Virginia in the lead.
Lorenzana walked to leadoff the Sooners’ third and was followed to base when Garrett Carey was hit by a pitch. Kolbey Carpenter advanced the duo to scoring position with a sacrifice bunt and Matt Oberste was intentionally walked to load the bases. Aikin out ran the defense on a bunt down the first base line and Mayfield was a hit by a pitch as the Sooners scored two runs with one hit.
West Virginia head coach Randy Mazey pinch hit for Frazer in the ninth, facing Evans with a runner on first. Justin Fox’s sacrifice bunt attempt rolled straight to the mound and Evans was able to get the leadoff out at second. He finished the inning with two groundouts to send the game to extra innings.