The University of Oklahoma baseball team played from behind early for the third straight game and came back for a 13-4 win over Northeastern at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Sunday afternoon. The Sooners earned a series split as each team moves on from opening weekend at 2-2.
Northeastern scored a pair of runs in the first and Oklahoma came back with a run in each of the next two innings. The Sooners put together a big inning with six runs in the third as they batted around and never looked back.
“I like our team,” opened head coach Pete Hughes. “I told them they were very talented when we were 0-2. You just have to sort things out, and sometimes when you have so many new faces, it takes a little while to develop chemistry and have guys play relaxed.
Junior shortstop Jack Flansburg (Orange, Calif.) and junior first baseman Sheldon Neuse (Fort Worth, Texas) singled to start things off in the third. Senior left fielder Alex Wise (Neosho, Mo.) then placed a bunt to the first base-side of the mound to load the bases with no outs. Junior right fielder Cody Thomas (Colleyville, Texas) broke the tie with a line drive single into center that plated Flansburg. Freshman center fielder Steele Walker (Prosper, Texas) followed with a single of his own through the right side that scored Neuse.
After Northeastern lifted right-handed starter Will Jahn, Oklahoma got two more runs on a fielder’s choice and a sacrifice-fly. With runners at the corners and two down, freshman designated hitter Hunter Southerland (Oklahoma City) drilled a double to deep left that scored two and pushed the Sooner lead to 8-2.
Freshman right-hander Jake Irvin (Bloomington, Minn.) made his first career start and took a no-decision for OU. He battled through a 38-pitch first inning and threw his 95th before being lifted with one out in the fourth. In 4.1 innings, Irvin was hit five times, walked five and struck out four, while allowing four runs.
Trailing by six, the Huskies’ offense showed life in the fifth as it took advantage of a pair of walks and got a RBI-double from left fielder Pat Madigan that chased Irvin. Freshman right-hander Austin Hansen (Lenexa, Kan.) came out of the bullpen with one down and two runners in scoring position. Hansen limited the damage to one additional as Northeastern got an infield-single from catcher Josh Treff that cut the deficit to 8-4.
Hansen (1-0) went on to pitch 2.2 innings of relief and earn the win. He didn’t allow a run or a walk and surrendered just two hits to go with three strikeouts. Junior RHP JB Olson (Shady Shores, Texas) and senior RHP Keaton Hernandez (Palm Springs, Calif.) finished the game with a scoreless-inning each.
“They’re all team-first guys,” Hughes said of the team’s new mix of players. “I like the depth of our bullpen with those young guys, and I think they grew up a little bit this weekend, so I’m happy where we’re at.”
Neuse led the OU side that totaled 13 hits with a 4-for-4 day. He scored twice and drove in one run.
“That’s what we expect out of Sheldon,” proclaimed Hughes. “He’s that talented. What he did yesterday [pitching 3.1 innings], we wanted to rest his arm today, put him at first base, just let him hit a little bit. He’s on it right now, so we have to keep him going.”
Flansburg was just 1-for-3, but drew two walks and scored three runs. Southerland went 2-for-5 in the leadoff spot and Wise and sophomore second baseman Kyle Mendenhall (Carlsbad, Calif.) each added two RBI.
Jahn (0-1) pitched two innings and was pulled after facing five batters in the third without recording an out. He allowed seven runs on seven hits and two walks. NU pitchers issued 11 walks in the game.
The Sooners return to action Tuesday evening against Abilene Christian at home at 4:00 pm.
Sheldon Neuse made his first career start at first base; snapping a stretch of 54 consecutive starts at shortstop. He was last not playing short against Utah (2/22/15) when he started as the DH.
Neuse became the third player to start at first base in the series; joining Jack Flansburg and Alex Wise.
Flansburg started at three different infield position in the series, including two at first, one at second and one at shortstop.
Neuse matched a career-high with his second four-hit game. He last did so against Purdue (3/7/15).
Sooner hitters were issued 11 walks. OU last drew 10 walks or more at Oklahoma State (4/15/14) in an 18-inning game.
OU scored in the first inning of three of the series’ four games, but also allowed NU to score in the first three times.
Jake Irvin became the first freshman pitcher to start a game opening weekend since Jake Elliott (2/16/14).
The Sooners totaled 4,466 in home attendance for the weekend.
Oklahoma 13, Northeastern 4 (Feb 21, 2016 at Norman, Okla.)
Northeastern........ 200 020 000 - 4 8 0 (2-2)
Oklahoma............ 116 002 12X - 13 13 2 (2-2)
Pitchers: Northeastern - Jahn, Will; Borges, Nate(3); Fitzgerald, Mike(6); Piscopo, Mike(7);
Driscoll, Mike(8); Brown, Tyler(8) and Treff, Josh; Geaslen, Michael. Oklahoma - Irvin, Jake;
Hansen, Austin(5); Olson, JB(8); Hernandez, Keaton(9) and Martinez, Renae; DeRenzo, Domenic.
Win-Hansen, Austin(1-0) Loss-Jahn, Will(0-1) T-3:05 A-925
Weather: Cloudy, 59, N 10 MPH
Jahn faced 5 batters in the 3rd.
Borges faced 3 batters in the 6th.
Driscoll faced 4 batters in the 8th.