Thanks to a seven-run third inning, the No. 10 Oklahoma baseball team improved to 10-0 on the season with a 10-7 win over Pepperdine Friday at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
A trio of freshmen at the bottom of the order made an impact offensively for the Sooners. Catcher Anthony Hermelyn, infielder Kolbey Carpenter and outfielder Hunter Haley each drove in two runs to contribute to OU's cause, with Haley hitting his first collegiate home run to lead off the scoring barrage in the third.
"It was a tough day with the elements, and we showed a lot of mental toughness," said OU head coach Sunny Golloway. "I was extremely impressed with our freshmen in the lineup. I thought we played really well offensively and hit a lot of balls hard. Our big inning was clearly a tribute to our ability to push and drag bunt and have the courage to lay the bat down."
Freshman outfielder Craig Aikin posted two hits and scored two runs while junior infielder Hector Lorenzana continued his hot start to the season, posting two hits, an RBI and a run scored. Junior infielder Matt Oberste collected an RBI single and scored two more runs, extending his hitting streak to 13 consecutive games dating back to the 2012 campaign.
Junior southpaw starting pitcher Dillon Overton tallied a season-high 10 strikeouts in just six innings of work. The left-hander improved to 4-0 on the season and 18-7 for his career.
"It was nice to score runs for Dillon, because there have been many, many games where he's won tight, contested, low-scoring games," said Golloway. "For us to go out offensively and give him a cushion to work with was something that was rewarding and satisfying."
Freshman lefty reliever Jacob Evans tossed two shutout frames before giving way to redshirt sophomore righty Robert Tasin, who earned his third save of the season.
"Evans did a very nice job of bridging the gap for us from our starter to our closer," said Golloway.
OU landed the first punch with a run in the bottom of the first. Aikin sent a leadoff base hit to right, advanced to second on a wild pitch, took third on a sacrifice bunt by senior infielder Jack Mayfield and scored when senior outfielder/infielder Max White lifted a sacrifice fly to right.
The Sooners erupted for seven runs in the third, with Haley's homer over the right field wall setting the tone. Aikin followed by drawing a walk, and back-to-back bunt singles by Mayfield and White loaded the bases for Oklahoma. Oberste drove in Aikin with a single through the left side, and senior infielder Garrett Carey coaxed a walk to bump home Mayfield. White then scored on a single to right by Lorenzana, with Hermelyn following by drawing a walk to push Oberste home. Back-to-back sacrifice flies to right by Carpenter and Haley allowed Carey and Lorenzana to score and complete the big inning and give the Sooners an 8-0 edge going into the fourth.
The Waves (6-4) roared back, though, posting a six-run frame in the top of the fourth to put themselves back in the ballgame.
Overton and Evans countered by combining to throw three straight zeros on the scoreboard, and OU's bats answered the call again by tallying two more insurance runs in the home half of the seventh. Oberste coaxed a leadoff walk, then stole second, went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Carey and scored Oklahoma's ninth run by way of a single to left by Hermelyn, who advanced to second on the play courtesy of a Pepperdine error. Carpenter made it 10-6 by plating Hermelyn with a single to right.
The Sooners return to the field tomorrow for game two of their series with the Waves. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. CT. The series will conclude Sunday at 1 p.m. CT.