A four-run first inning spelled trouble for the Oklahoma baseball team in a 6-3 loss to Purdue at L. Dale Mitchell Park, Friday night. The loss dropped the Sooners to 10-6 on the season, while the Boilermakers improved to 5-7.
Purdue put the first three men it sent to the plate on base with three-straight singles, including two bunt singles to the left of the pitcher's mound. First baseman Kyle Wood broke the game open with a bases-clearing double down the right field line. A fourth run would come across in the inning on a sacrifice-bunt, RBI by catcher Jack Picchiotti.
“They executed the bunts offensively, we did not defend it,” opened head coach Pete Hughes. “Then you are trying to dig yourself out of a hole and you wait for a miracle in the ninth. [The first inning] was where the game was decided. Still, we have to score some runs there. We only got one run on the board going into the ninth so we have a lot of stuff to work on before we can come back tomorrow for the series.”
The Boilermakers would score the first six runs of the game; adding a solo home run by Wood in the third and a RBI-groundout by second baseman Cody Strong to score shortstop Harry Shipley, who singled in the fourth.
Oklahoma got a run back in the sixth on a RBI-groundout by sophomore shortstop Sheldon Neuse (Fort Worth, Texas) to plate senior third baseman Joshua Ake (Readington, N.J.), who led off the inning with a walk.
The Sooners made it interesting in the ninth as they got the potential game-tying run on base. Three players walked and with two outs and the bases loaded, junior center fielder Craig Aikin (Coppell, Texas) delivered a base hit into shallow center field to score a run.
A Purdue pitching chance brought right-hander Matt Gibbs on to the bump. Redshirt-senior right fielder Taylor Alspaugh (Broken Arrow, Okla.) then walked to push across another run and represent the tying run on first. Gibbs fought back to strikeout Neuse to end the game and record his first save of the season.
Right-hander Mike Kornacker (1-1) claimed the win in 5.1 innings of work. He scattered three hits and three walks, while giving up one run and striking out two. Lefty Tim McElroy pitched 3.1 innings of solid relief before being tagged for two run in the ninth. He struck out three, walked four and surrendered three hits.
For Oklahoma, sophomore right-hander Jake Elliott (Coppell, Texas) notched a career-high 10 strikeouts, but fell to 2-1 on the season. He allowed six runs on nine hits and two walks. Four OU relievers combined to throw three-scoreless innings of one-hit ball.
Wood led the Purdue offense with a 3-for-3 day, driving in four runs and scoring two, while drawing a walk. Left fielder Michael Vilardo added a 3-for-5 game with a run scored.
Aikin went 2-for-4 for the Sooners and extended his hit streak to 10 games.
Oklahoma and Purdue are back in action tomorrow evening for a 5:00 pm first pitch. Sophomore RHP Alec Hansen (Loveland, Colo.) takes the ball for the Sooners.
· Craig Aikin extended his hit streak to 10 games. He is hitting .429 (18-for-42) over that stretch. He has also successfully hit in 27 out of 28 games.
· Oklahoma starting pitchers have lasted six or more innings in seven out of 16 games.
· The Sooner pitching staff has struck out 10 or more batters eight times; all coming in the last 10 games.
· Oklahoma played error-free baseball for the sixth time this season and turned its 17th double play of the year.
· Sheldon Neuse collected his Big 12-leading 18th RBI of the season.
· The game was the first-ever meeting between Oklahoma and Purdue.
· The Sooner bullpen combined to throw three-shutout innings and allowed just one hit. OU relievers have tossed 11-consecutive scoreless innings and have put up a zero 82.1% (46-for-56) of the time.