OU Baseball Walks Off Against Jayhawks
The University of Oklahoma baseball team picked up its first Big 12 sweep in over two years and defeated Kansas on a walk-off in extra innings for the second time in three days with an 8-7 decision. Redshirt-senior right-fielder Taylor Alspaugh lined the game-winning hit past second in the bottom of the 10th as the Sooners improved to 22-12 overall and 6-3 in conference in front of 1,566 at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Saturday afternoon.
“It is so hard to sweep anyone in this league because everyone is so good,” head coach Pete Hughes stated. “To be able to [sweep] and really take advantage of the home field, we made up for lost ground. In the end, all that matters is how many wins you have in conference; it does not matter if it comes via sweep or not. It is just important to go out there and get a win in a series like this.”
Senior third baseman Joshua Ake and junior second baseman Kolbey Carpenter each reached with one out in the 10th on a hit-by-pitch and a walk to set the table for Alspaugh. The Jayhawks (11-20, 1-5) turned to left-hander pitcher Ryan Jackson (0-1) to face the OU left-handed hitter. Down in the count 0-2, Alspaugh ripped a single up the middle off the glove of the second baseman and into center to plate Ake with the game-winning run.
Oklahoma appeared to be in control of the game with a 6-2 lead through six innings of play. Kansas rallied for three runs in the top of the seventh against the Sooner bullpen. Back-to-back singles set the table and then third baseman Matt McLaughlin lined a double to left that plate one run and catcher Michael Tinsley followed with a RBI-single to make it a 6-4 game. OU got out of the inning with a one-run lead after KU plated its third of the frame on a sacrifice-fly off the bat of Blair Beck.
In the top of the eighth, two singles and a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases for the Jayhawks with just one out. The game-tying and go-ahead runs came in to score on a single by left fielder Connor McKay. The ball was hit towards short and had potential to be worth two outs, but a late-, high-hop shot it over the glove of Sooner sophomore shortstop Sheldon Neuse and into center field. Neuse rebounded by turning a 6-6-3 groundball-double play on the next batter in support of junior right-hander Ralph Garza Jr.; the third OU reliever of the game.
For the second time in three games, Kansas turned to its closer, right-hander Stephen Villines, who took the loss on Thursday night. Junior left fielder Hunter Haley started the home half with a single to center and was sacrificed into scoring position by Ake. Carpenter then punched a base hit the other way into right field that brought Haley home with the game-tying run.
Neuse (1-1) took to the mound in the ninth and stayed on to pitch the 10th, while earning his first win of the season. He gave up a lead-off single in the top of the 10th and came back to strikeout out the side and send the Sooners back to the plate. At the dish, Neuse went 1-for-4 with a run scored and a RBI.
Redshirt-junior right-hander Robert Tasin lasted six innings in the start. He allowed two runs on four hits and three walks, while striking out three. For Kansas, right-hander Drew Morovick pitched just three innings as he gave up four runs on six hits and four walks to go with two strikeouts.
Junior first baseman Anthony Hermelyn notched his third multi-hit game of the series in a 3-for-5 effort with a run scored. Haley went 2-for-3 with two RBI, two runs, two walks and two stolen bases.
Tinsley finished the game 3-for-5 for KU, while Beck and McKay each recorded two hits.
The Sooners are back in action for a non-conference Bedlam game against Oklahoma State in Stillwater on Tuesday, April 7 at 6:00 p.m.