The Norman Transcript

Sports

April 19, 2014

OU draws even in rout of West Virginia

NORMAN — As Oklahoma’s players jogged back to the dugout following the top of the first inning against West Virginia, no one appeared overly excited. It was the classic case of masking the emotions.

For the first time in five games, the Sooners hadn’t allowed a first-inning run.

“My No. 1 goal today was to just get out of the first inning with no runs,” OU pitcher Adam Choplick said.

The last eight innings seemed like a breeze in OU’s 5-3 victory over the Mountaineers at L. Dale Mitchell Park.

The win evened the three-game series ahead of today’s noon meeting. It displayed how effective OU can be at the plate, in the field and on the mound when it’s constantly crawling back from early deficits.

The Sooners (25-15, 5-6 Big 12) ended a streak of five straight games where they had allowed at least one first-inning run. They surrendered 16 opening-at-bat runs during that stretch.

“We’ve been struggling to get out of that first inning,” OU catcher Mac James said. “Once we got three outs without giving up a run, it was like, ‘hey, let’s go hit.’ It helped.”

OU brought an intensity to the ballpark absent in recent games. It might have been there, but falling behind early heaped more stress on every pitch that followed.

Hughes held a team meeting earlier on Friday to talk about the team’s lack of energy a day earlier in the 7-0 loss to the Mountaineers.

“Hopefully they can see the difference when playing with some energy and some life and some competitiveness,” Hughes said. “We’re a different team when we play like that. But that’s all predicated on having a good start.”

West Virginia (18-16, 3-7) did take a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning. But OU answered with an RBI triple by Craig Aikin and an RBI single by Taylor Alspaugh in the bottom of the frame.

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