The University of Oklahoma baseball team overcame a five-run deficit and pounded out a seven-run eighth inning on the way to a series-clinching, 12-6, win over West Virginia in front of 1,217 at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Saturday afternoon. On the day of the team’s annual “Bark in the Park” promotion, the Sooners were able to improve to 20-19-1 and 6-8 in the Big 12, while the Mountaineers dropped to 19-18 and 5-8.
“I love teams that play from behind because they don’t panic,” stated OU head coach Pete Hughes. “I worry about that, but I always tell our guys ‘good teams know how to play when they’re up five runs or when they’re down five runs’ and I think we did that today.”
The Oklahoma offense was held in check with only one run, a solo home run from freshman left fielder Hunter Southerland (Oklahoma City) in the first five innings, but chipped into a 6-1 West Virginia lead with a three-run sixth. The Sooners got three hits in the innings, including RBI knocks on a single from junior shortstop Sheldon Neuse (Fort Worth, Texas) and a double from freshman center fielder Steele Walker (Prosper, Texas).
Freshman catcher Domenic DeRenzo (Pittsburgh, Pa.) cut the Mountaineers’ lead to one with a leadoff-home run in the seventh. Senior right fielder Alex Wise(Neosho, Mo.) followed with a double to right and was sacrificed to third. West Virginia was able to leave the tying run at third when after a walk the infield turned a 6-4-3 groundball-double play.
Oklahoma opened the bottom of the eighth with three-consecutive hits; the last of which was a two-run single to right-center from freshman designated hitter Chris Andritsos (The Woodlands, Texas) that scored the tying and go-ahead runs. Andritsos was sacrificed to third with one out and from there the Sooner bats caught fire. OU rattled off five hits in a row as 12 batters went to the plate and seven runs scored on nine hits.
“Steele Walker is swinging the bat like crazy, everything’s back in the middle of the field,” Hughes started on his freshman hitters. “And Chris Andritsos, he hadn’t hit in a long time but he came in and gave us some quality at-bats and had some big hits. And then you get production out of your nine-hole hitter [DeRenzo]. A double, a controlled running game. His hometown team he’s playing against so sometimes guys can’t handle the adrenaline, but he’s done a great job the last two days.”
The Sooners, who outhit the Mountaineers 18-10, had six players record multi-hit games, including three three-hit days. Walker and junior first baseman Austin O’Brien (Owasso, Okla.) each went 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI. Andritsos added a two-RBI, 3-for-5 performance.
On the mound, junior right-hander Alex Daniele (Scotch Plains, N.J.) got his first win of the season in two innings of relief. Daniele (1-0) allowed one man to reach on a walk and struck out two. Junior right-hander Jake Elliott (Coppell, Texas) went 5.2 innings in the start. He surrendered five runs, three of which came in the top of the first, on eight hits and three walks to go with four strikeouts.
Lefty Ross Vance pitched 5.1 innings in the start for WVU. He gave up four runs on six hits and a walk, while striking out six. The loss went to right-hander Conner Dotson (4-4), who was tagged for three runs on four hits and a walk in 1.1 innings of relief.
The Sooners go for the sweep of the Mountaineers Sunday at noon.