The University of Oklahoma baseball team earned a split with an 11-1 win over Southern Illinois-Edwardsville and a narrow 10-9 defeat to Notre Dame in front of 1,735 at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Saturday. The Sooners moved to 2-1 on the season, while the Cougars dropped to 0-2 and the Fighting Irish improved to 2-1.
In the opener, Oklahoma pounded out 14 hits, including five players with multi-hit games, led by junior first baseman Anthony Hermelyn with four RBI and a run on 2-for-3 hitting. For the day, Hermelyn went 4-for-8 with five RBI to lift his early-season total to six.
In a strong start, the Sooners got three runs in the first inning. Continuing into the second, junior center fielder Craig Aikin and sophomore shortstop Sheldon Neuse both scored runs off Hermelyn's two-run single.
In the field, OU stayed strong behind junior right-handed pitcher Corey Copping, who struck out six in seven innings on just 83 pitches to earn the win.
The only blemish to Copping's seven innings of pitching was a homerun by SIU-Edwardsville right-fielder Dustin Woodcock in the top of the fifth. This was the only run scored by the Cougars.
Aikin totaled three runs and a RBI, while extending his hitting streak to 14 games, which started at the end of last season. In the nightcap, Aikin pushed his streak to 15 with a seventh-inning single.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, first baseman Austin O'Brien smashed a home run out into right-center; a two-run shot that widened the Sooner lead to 11-1. The homer marked the first of the OU season, and third of O'Brien's career.
Against Notre Dame, Oklahoma came up a just one hit short of forcing extra innings against the Fighting Irish. The Sooners scored seven runs in the last three innings, but fell to Notre Dame, 10-9.
Trailing 10-3 in the seventh, the Sooner bats returned. With two on and one out, junior outfielder Alex Wise hit a towering line-shot over the wall in left that plated redshirt-senior right fielder Taylor Alspaugh and junior Kolbey Carpenter and cut the deficit to five.
The Sooners rallied again in the ninth. Freshman third baseman Quin Walbergh and Alspaugh reached on walks to give the Sooners runners on first and second when Aikin drilled a ball to third. Notre Dame third baseman Kyle Fiala fielded a tough hop cleanly, but was wild to first. The errant throw plated Walbergh and moved Wise and Aikin up a base. Neuse drove in Wise with a sacrifice-fly, his second of the game, to center and the Irish lead was down to 10-7 with no one out. Hermelyn made it 10-8 with a RBI single to right that scored Aikin. Oklahoma got another hit from O'Brien and then junior catcher Chris Shaw brought the Sooners within one with a RBI single through the left side that easily pushed a pinch-running Joshua Ake across.
With one out and the tying run on second, the Sooners got fly outs from Carpenter and Alspaugh to end the rally just one run short.
The game was tight early with both clubs scoring in the first frame. For Oklahoma Wise reached base on a fielding error by Notre Dame shortstop Lane Richards. Wise later scored on a sacrifice-fly to right by Neuse. In the second, Carpenter belted his first home run of the year to the deepest part of the park in left center to give the Sooners a 2-1 lead.
Sophomore LHP Alec Hansen made the start for OU, the second of his career, and took the loss. The sophomore gave up a run in the first on a first and third play when Cavan Biggio took home on a delayed steal. The Irish tacked on two more in the third on a walk and a pair of doubles and led 3-2 after three.
Notre Dame owned the middle innings. The Irish chased Hansen in the fourth when a walk and a throwing error from Hansen set up a RBI single from Mac Hudgins. Notre Dame added five more runs in the frame, only one of which was earned. The Irish tacked on what proved to be an important insurance run in the sixth to push the lead to 10-3. Hansen went three innings, striking out four and walking only two, but allowed four earned runs.
Right-handed starter Brandon Bielak (1-0) picked up the win for Notre Dame with five innings pitched and only one earned run allowed. Righty Ryan Smoyer grabbed a two-out save for the Irish, inducing a pair of fly-outs to end the Sooners' ninth-inning rally.
Oklahoma is back in action with a pair of games on Sunday; beginning at 12:00 pm against SIUE with redshirt-junior left-hander Adam Choplick scheduled to pitch. The Sooners and Irish face off for a third time in the nightcap.
· Craig Aikin extended his career-best hitting streak to 15 games with a single in the seventh. He is hitting .492 (34-for-69) over that stretch.
· The Sooners totaled three home runs on the day. Austin O'Brien hit the third of his career, Kolbey Carpenter the sixth and Alex Wise his first.
· Anthony Hermelyn matched a career-high in RBI with four. He last did so against Belmont (3/16/14) and the last Sooner to do so was Sheldon Neuse against Texas Tech (5/22/14) in the Big 12 Tournament.
· Jake Elliott and Corey Copping became the first duo to pitch seven innings or more in back-to-back starts for OU since Copping and Adam Choplick reached that mark against West Virginia (4/17-18/14).
· Chris Shaw, Quin Walbergh and Kyle Mendenhall all recorded the first hit of their career against SIUE in the seventh inning.
· Oklahoma has totaled 3,018 in attendance through the first two dates of the season.
· The Sooners have recorded nine hits or more in all three games.
· Carpenter is a .462 (6-for-13) hitter in three career games against Notre Dame.