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Saturday Baseball Recap

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Pitching Fuels Victory For Cowboys

ARLINGTON, Texas – A trio of Oklahoma State pitchers, led by freshman Thomas Hatch, propelled the 18th-ranked Cowboys to a 3-1 win over Stephen F. Austin Saturday in the UTA/Hilton Invitational at Clay Gould Ballpark.

Hatch and relievers Jon Perrin and Brendan McCurry combined for 14 strikeouts and held the Lumberjacks to just one run on two hits, and the trio faced only three hitters over the minimum.

"That was a (SFA) ballclub that pounded out 20 hits and scored 14 runs (in Friday's season opener), and Thomas Hatch made his first college start and pitched an absolutely beautiful ballgame," said OSU head coach Josh Holliday. "He executed his pitches; he settled in about the third inning and you saw a quality mix of three very good pitches.

"Jon Perrin came in and gave us two outstanding innings in the seventh and eighth, and Brendan (McCurry) closed it up and looked very good."

Both teams plated runs in their first at bat, with OSU taking a 1-0 lead on Zach Fish's RBI double into the gap.

In the bottom of the first, Matthew Dickey led off with a single, then stole second and took third on a groundout before scoring the tying run on a sacrifice fly by Joseph Olson.

Hatch, however, would dominate over the next five innings as the right-hander racked up eight strikeouts and allowed just one more hit, that coming on a bunt single, in his debut.

"I give Thomas a lot of credit – he's grown up a lot since he's gotten here," Holliday said. "(OSU pitching coach) Rob (Walton) has done an amazing job of talking him through the mental progression that a quality pitcher works through, how he handles what's going on around him that's outside of his control, how he gets refocused on making pitches. That was really positive.

"Thomas has a chance to have three really high-end pitches. There's something right there that we can definitely build on."

With Hatch cruising, the Cowboys' offense gave him all the support he would need, getting a two-out RBI double from Conor Costello in the third inning and making it 3-1 in the sixth on another two-out RBI, this one a single off the bat of Arakawa.

"We did enough on offense," said Holliday, whose club stranded 11 runners on the base path. "This team is creating opportunities, the next step is some of those knockout punches."

Perrin and McCurry provided the knockout punches in relief of Hatch. Perrin retired the side in order in both the seventh and eighth innings, recording three strikeouts along the way, and McCurry came on and struck out the side in the ninth to earn the ninth save of his career, a total that ranks eighth on OSU's all-time list.

OSU closes out tourney action Sunday against host UT Arlington. First pitch is set for 3 p.m.

 

Oklahoma Bats Back Choplick's Effort in 8-2 Win

NORMAN, Okla. – The Sooners took advantage of a stiff wind out to center field as they put up five runs in the seventh inning to give first-year head coach Pete Hughes his first win with the Oklahoma baseball team, 8-2 over Seton Hall on Saturday afternoon. OU evened its record at 1-1 in front of 1,302 fans at L. Dale Mitchell Park, while the Pirates dropped to 1-1.

"I talked [about playing loose] with them today and I think we started a little different club today with a different approach than some of the guys that were playing," stated Hughes.

The five-run seventh was highlighted by back-to-back home runs off the bats of freshman third baseman Sheldon Neuse and sophomore catcher Anthony Hermelyn. For each, it was the first home run at the collegiate level.

Leading 3-2, the Sooners went to work against the SHU bullpen in the seventh. After back-to-back one-out walks, redshirt-junior right fielder Taylor Alspaugh laid a bunt single down the third base line and junior shortstop Joshua Ake scored on the play after a throwing error. After a pitching change, Neuse strode to the plate and belted a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left center for a three-run home run. Hermelyn then added his own, nearly in the same spot, on the first pitch of his at-bat. It was the first time OU hit back-to-back home runs since 2010.

Redshirt-sophomore lefty Adam Choplick earned the win in a six-inning effort. He allowed one run on four hits and a walk, while striking out five. For Seton Hall, lefty Anthony Elia put up six innings and gave up three runs on four hits and three walks to go with a pair of strikeouts.

"I thought [Choplick] was awesome," stated Hughes. "I thought he threw a lot of strikes and pitched well with runners on base, when he had to. He fielded his position and his fastball was really good."

Little offense was had by other side in the first three innings. In the top of the fourth, SHU right fielder Chris Selden hit a pop-fly double that landed between short and left. He came around to score on a double by third baseman Kyle Grimm that hit off the wall to the left of the 411-foot mark in left-center.

The Sooners promptly answered with a three-spot in the bottom half of the fourth. Alspaugh singled for the first Sooner hit of the day with one out on a groundball up the middle. He then scored on a triple to left by Neuse. Hermelyn drove in Neuse with a base hit through the left side to give OU the lead and would later score on a RBI groundout by senior second baseman Hector Lorenzana. Oklahoma strung together four straight hits in the inning as freshman DH Niko Buentello added a single through the right side the moved Hermelyn up to third base.

Neuse finished the day 2-for-4 with four RBI and two runs scored, while Hermelyn went 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. Alspaugh added a pair of runs and a 2-for-5 effort.

Despite two errors by Seton Hall and one by Oklahoma, the game featured several defensive gems. On Lorenzana's RBI groundout, SHU shortstop D.J. Ruhlman made the play behind the mound and threw on the run to barely get the out at first. Lorenzana answered with two outs and a runner on second with a sliding play deep in the hole to end a scoring chance in the top of the fifth. The defensive highlight of the game came from Alspaugh who ran in from deep right to make a sliding play under Lorenzana in the shallow outfield to lead-off the sixth.

The Sooner and the Pirates play the rubber match of the series Sunday at 1 p.m.

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