The Norman Transcript

March 15, 2014

Alspaugh provides another game-winner for Sooners

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — The start was nothing close to what Oklahoma wanted, but how the game ends matters most. Friday night, the conclusion was a 4-3, 10-inning victory over Belmont at L. Dale Mitchell Park.

The win, the Sooners’ sixth in the last seven games, lifted them to 13-5. It was also the second straight victory they claimed on a 10th-inning run and marked back-to-back games the game-winning RBI belonged to right fielder Taylor Alspaugh.

He brought in the game-winning run with a line drive base hit to left-center field that allowed pinch-runner Tyler Coolbaugh to easily trot home from third base.

“I was in the right place at the right time, said Alspaugh, who went 1 for 5. “We battled all game. It just happened to be me at the plate and I was able to execute.”

Alspaugh has shown a knack for late-inning hits. Tuesday against Texas-Arlington, he cranked a solo home run in the first extra frame to put OU ahead for good.

OU coach Pete Hughes likes his team’s tenacity at the plate. It’s the sense of urgency that's insufficient.

OU had a chance to blow the game open in the bottom of the first. It was already down a run, but created a bases-loaded, no-out situation.

All it managed to do was tie the game when Niko Buentello grounded into a double play and Craig Aikin scored.

“That was deflating,” Hughes said. “When you have the first inning of the first game of a series and you have chance to set the tone for the entire series and you don’t do it, it’s frustrating right from the get-go.”

It was an eight-hit evening for the Sooners. The only one for extra bases was Sheldon Neuse’s double to lead off the 10th inning. The lone reason OU was able to benefit from Alspaugh’s clutch hit was the bullpen.

Kyle Hayes, Drew Krittenbrink and Ralph Garza Jr. combined to blank the Bruins (7-10) over the final seven innings.

Garza (2-0) pitched a perfect 10th inning to get the win. The most dominant performance was turned in by Hayes. The right-hander threw four innings of one-hit, shutout baseball.

“For me to go to the bullpen that early in Game 1 of a series shows how much I like the depth of our bullpen,” Hughes said. “I don’t hesitate to go to it when a guy doesn’t have a good start.”

Corey Copping didn’t have one. The sophomore right-hander gave up three runs on four hits over three innings.

Belmont’s Austin Coley did. He held the Sooners to two runs on five hits over seven innings. When he left the game, he was on the hook for the win.

The loss went to Chase Cunningham. OU rallied against him in the ninth inning to send it to extra innings. Kolbey Carpenter got a one-out pinch hit single and eventually scored on a wild pitch.

Cunningham loaded the bases in the bottom of the 10th. Alspaugh’s game-winner came off Greg Brody.

John Shinn

Follow me @john_shinn

jshinn@normantranscript.com

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