By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Friday showed just how fickle baseball can be. Oklahoma swept a doubleheader from Rutgers at L. Dale Mitchell Park, but won each game under vastly different circumstances.
The Sooners (11-4) matched a season high with 16 runs and finished one short of their season-best hit total with 19 in a 16-11 win to start the day. In the nightcap, OU rallied from four runs down in the bottom of the eighth inning to win 7-5.
“That is baseball,” OU center fielder Craig Aikin said. “Every day is a new day and every game is a new game.”
You can add that every inning is new, too.
What changed in the eighth inning was that OU got runners on base and got key hits when they did. The six-run frame was courtesy of a two-run double by first baseman Mac James, an RBI double by Keach Ballard and a go-ahead triple by Aikin.
The Sooners only had eight hits in the game. Five of them came in the eighth inning.
“If we’re gonna win in our league, we’re gonna have to win tight games and win late and sometimes come from behind,” OU coach Pete Hughes said. “It felt like a conference game to me.”
The night cap certainly did. Neither factored in the decision, but OU’s Adam Choplick and Rutgers’ Kyle Driscoll dueled quite well for six innings.
Driscoll held the Sooners to one run on three hits over six innings. Choplick threw a career-high 113 pitches over 62⁄3 innings, scattering seven hits and two runs. The 6-foot-8, 260-pound left-hander also struck out six.
“It didn’t feel like I threw that many pitches,” Choplick said. “I thought I was around 100. I still felt good at the end. I felt like I had my velocity.”
It might have been one inning too many for the sophomore.
The wind gusted out to left field throughout both games. Rutgers’ Tom Marcinczyk laced a shot down that left-field line that carried over the wall in the seventh inning that gave the Scarlet Knights (3-8) a 2-1 lead. By the time OU went to the plate in the bottom of the eighth, they were down 5-1.
Kindle Ladd and Jacob Evans couldn’t put out the fire that started in the seventh inning. Those two combined to give three runs on three hits without getting an out in the seventh inning.
Kyle Hayes finally got three outs in the eighth inning and got the win, improving to 2-0. Ralph Garza retired Rutgers in order to get his fourth save of the season.
Jon Young (0-2) gave up all six runs in the Sooners’ half of the eighth and took the loss.
Then again, perhaps OU just recaptured its opening form. In the opener, the 16 runs matched a season high and the 19 hits were one short of another. The most impressive part of the hit total was that nine of them went for extra bases, with eight of the nine in OU’s lineup collecting at least a double.
The biggest shot was Niko Buentello’s three-run homer in OU’s six-run second inning. The freshman designated hitter went 2 for 4 in the contest. Left fielder Hunter Haley and Mac James both went 3 for 5 and drove in three runs in the afternoon contest.
Robert Tasin (2-0) got the win. The right-hander came out of the bullpen to relieve Corey Copping in the fifth inning. Tasin allowed three runs on two hits, but it was enough to be the pitcher of record.
Drew Krittenbrink allowed three runs on four hits over the final 22⁄3 innings to get his first save of the season.
Kevin Baxter (0-2) took the loss. He allowed 10 runs on 12 hits over four innings.
Marcinczyk went 3 for 4 in the opener and shortstop Pat Sweeney went 2 for 4 and drove in three runs.
The teams will take today off due to the threat of rain and much colder temperatures. OU will try for the sweep at noon on Sunday.
Follow me @john_shinn
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