Playing without stars Kyler Murray and Steele Walker in the lineup, Oklahoma’s baseball team kept grinding away against Mississippi State in their opener of the Tallahassee Regional. The Sooners jumped on the Bulldogs with a four-run opening frame and then tried to ride that momentum through the afternoon.
A one-out single from Brandon Zaragoza got Oklahoma started in the top of the first. Zaragoza promptly swiped second base and the Brylie Ware battled his way to a nine-pitch walk to put two on for the Sooners.
The scoring started when Justin Mitchell singled through the left side to score Zaragoza. Ware came home on a Kyle Mendenhall double and then the Sooners scored two more off a Thomas Hughes ground out to first and a throwing error by Mississippi State’s Tanner Allen.
Leading 4-0 after the opening frame, Oklahoma notched another run, in the top of the second, off the bat of Zaragoza but then it was the Bulldogs who came alive. A two-run home run from Dustin Skelton put MSU on the board. He would strike again in the third with a two-RBI single that would tie the game at 5-5.
Jake Irvin produced a strong first inning for the Sooners from the mound but began to fade in the second. On the hook for five Bulldog runs through the first three innings, Irvin didn’t help his cause by issuing four walks. He was able to limit the damage though by fanning six batters in the first three innings.
Things didn’t get any better for Oklahoma’s ace in the fourth either. A two-run blast by Rowdey Jordan tied the game and then the Bulldogs took the lead on a two-run blast from Elijah MacNamee.
Far from the pitcher’s duel we expected, the scoring in this game was far from being over. Mississippi State expanded their lead to 10-7 in the top of the sixth but Oklahoma posted nine runs in the top of the seventh.
Yeah, you read that correctly. The Sooners sent fifteen batters to the plate in the top of the seventh to take control of the game with a 16-10 lead.
Continuing the momentum during the defensive half of the frame, OU held the Bulldogs scoreless. Ending in the inning by turning a double play, Skip Johnson’s ball club hoped to extend the lead even further in the eighth. Starting things off, Ware was struck by a pitch and Mitchell knocked a single. The effort helped the Sooners load the bases as Cade Cavalli stepped up to the plate. Unfortunately, a foul out ended the scoring threat.
Dipping into the bullpen, Braidyn Fink was handed the baseball to start the bottom of the eighth. Holding a six run lead the pitcher went to work. Struggling just a bit, Fink loaded the bases with two outs on the board. Looking to keep MSU from scoring a run, the pitcher utilized the defense backing him up. Forcing the batter into a pop fly situation, Oklahoma ended the escaped, recording the final out of the inning.
Clearly hitting their stride, Lindsly, Brewster, Harris, and Zaragoza doubled in succession. With the hit total at 21, three additional runs were batted in bringing. The success at the plate brought the run total up to 19-10 in the top of the final frame. As the “double fest” ended, Zaragoza scored on a ground out from Ware officially pushing OU to 20 runs — the number matched a previous season high recorded on April 11th. Threading to eclipse the mark, a double from Mendenhall put runners on the corners with a single out. Not finding any room, Oklahoma failed to plate another run. Clinging to sizeable margin, the Sooners needed just three outs to move over to the Winner’s side of the bracket.
Holding on, the defense refused to give up a run. Grasping a 20-10 victory over MSU, Skip and the rest of the crew await the winner of Samford/FSU on Saturday evening.