OU Baseball: No. 18 Sooners take two-of-three games from Pepperdine
Jono Greco, The Oklahoma Daily
It wasn’t pretty baseball at L. Dale Mitchell Park this weekend, but the No. 18 Oklahoma baseball team took two-of-three from visiting Pepperdine.
The Sooners (11-1) claimed the series finale, 8-1, Sunday after taking the opener, 10-7, Friday and dropping Saturday’s game, 7-2.
Following Saturday’s loss — the team’s first of the year after jumping out to a 10-game win streak — coach Sunny Golloway said he would learn a lot about what his team was made of by the way it bounced back Sunday.
What his team showed him was something that all teams want to know early on in the season.
“I learned that we have a lot of character,” Golloway said. “I would have been disappointed had we not come back and responded at home and won the series.”
“[I] definitely felt like I had better stuff than when I did in my first start,” said redshirt freshman pitcher Adam Choplick, who is returning from two Tommy John surgeries. “I was calm, in control. I still need to improve.”
A large part to why the Sooners claimed the series was because of redshirt freshman Adam Choplick’s outing in the finale. In his second career start, Choplick went 5 1/3 innings, allowed one run on four hits and struck out three batters.
The 92-pitch outing upped Choplick’s ERA to 0.87, but he was credited with his second win in as many starts.
“I can definitely feel (the 92 pitches),” he said. “I got a little tired there in the fifth, but it definitely felt good.”
Junior lefty Billy Waltrip tossed 3 2/3 innings of shutout ball to secure the series victory. He struck out seven batters in the process.
Choplick’s solid start was something this starting rotation needed. Juniors Dillon Overton and Jonathan Gray did not pitch up to their standards against Pepperdine, allowing a combined nine runs — six by Overton and three by Gray — in 12 innings.
Overton’s outing was not as poor as his line score implies — six earned runs on six hits with four walks — considering all six runs came in one inning and he struck out a season-high 10 batters. After allowing a six-run fourth inning Friday, Overton responded by throwing two shutout innings that allowed OU to build upon its at-time one-run lead.
Another saving grace for OU in a weekend the starting pitching was not on par was the fact in the Sooners’ two wins they were able to produce at the plate.
They exploded for seven runs in the third inning Friday and scored five runs in the fourth inning and three runs in the eighth inning Sunday. In OU’s one loss over the weekend, it stranded 11 runners in a game that was separated by one run entering the top of the ninth.
In Sunday’s two outburst innings, senior captains shortstop Jack Mayfield and right fielder Max White both hit no-doubt-abouter home runs and drove in a combined for five RBIs. The home runs were Mayfield and White’s second and first homers of the year, respectively.
Senior third baseman Garrett Carey also sent one over the fence, lining a ball in the fourth inning Sunday that carried just over the left fielder’s leaping glove. The homer was his first of the year.
“Everyone’s seeing the ball pretty good right now, and we’re just trying to square it up,” Mayfield said. “The main thing we’re focusing on is hard line drives and ground balls. The home runs will take care of themselves.”
The Sooners will leave Norman for a four-game road trip starting with a midweek game against Texas-Arlington at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Arlington, Texas. Then they head out to Los Angeles for a weekend set against USC, UCLA and Notre Dame.
“This series … it felt more like a real series like maybe we’d see in the Big 12,” White said. “These guys got a dose of that. This is definitely a turning point, and we’ve got to stay focused.”