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Huge Eighth Inning Rally Leads Sooners To Series Win Over Rutgers

The wheels were falling off in a bad way for Oklahoma baseball on Friday night and the outlook was bleak. After Adam Choplick pitched 6.2 scoreless innings the Sooners saw their 1-0 lead evaporate when Vinny Zarrillo scored off a Brian O'Grady single. The Scarlet Knights added two more in the seventh and two again in the eighth to take a commanding 5-1 lead.

With their backs firmly against the wall, the Sooners went to work in the bottom half of the inning with their rally caps on. Niko Buentello led off with a double to center field and then, two batters later, Hunter Haley reached base on a fielding error, advancing Buentello to third. Mac James, the fourth batter of the inning, doubled down the right field line to bring Buentello home for Oklahoma's first run since the fifth inning. Taylor Alspaugh then doubled to left-center to score both James and Haley, drawing the Sooners to within 5-4 of the Scarlet Knights. Following a Hector Lorenzana walk, Keach Ballard produced the third double of the inning for the Sooners to score Alspaugh and tie the game.

Friday's Big XII Baseball Scores

Oklahoma State

6

San Diego

5

Stillwater, Okla.

Kansas State

3

Iowa

2

Manhattan, Kan.

Oklahoma

16

Rutgers

11

Norman, Okla.

Oklahoma

7

Rutgers

5

Norman, Okla.

Texas

3

Hawai'i

2

Austin, Texas

Texas Tech

15

New Mexico State

2

Lubbock, Texas

TCU

1

Michigan State

2

Fort Worth, Texas

Oklahoma State

6

San Diego

10

Stillwater, Okla.

Baylor

0

Cal State Fullerton

11

Waco, Texas

Stanford

2

Kansas

4

Palo Alto, Calif.

Rutgers tried a pitching change to stop the bleeding but Craig Aikin bounced a Gaby Rosa pitch off the right-center field wall to score Lorenzana and Ballard for the final two runs of the inning. The Sooners would post their six runs in the eighth inning off five hits and one Rutgers error.

"I felt like that might have been the dagger right there but I also knew we weren't done," Aikin said about his 8th inning triple. "It was all those guys before me that were battling 0-2, Alspaugh's double, you know, they just kept the inning alive. We just keep passing the bat and we put it (the rally) together."

Aikin ended up tied with Alspaugh for a team-high 2 RBI in the second game. His go ahead triple was his only hit in the doubleheader finale. Mac James and Alspaugh were the only two Sooners to record multiple hits in the game.

Starter Adam Choplick pitched well enough to have deserved the win but he left the mound with the Sooners trailing and therefore won't get it. He fanned six Rutgers batters and gave up just two runs on two hits through his 6.2 innings of work. The win was credited to Kyle Hayes who pitched the eighth, allowing just a single hit and striking out two.

Ralph Garza, Jr pitched a perfect ninth inning to pick up his third save of the year. Friday was his 9th appearance of the season which is the most among Big XII pitchers.

The Sooners will go for their first series sweep of the season on Sunday in the finale of the series. The two teams will take Saturday off because of weather. Oklahoma has now won four games in a row.