The Oklahoma Sooners and Mississippi State Bulldogs were just involved in a wild baseball game in the Tallahassee Regional of the NCAA Tournament, and OU emerged from the rubble with a 20-10 win in tow. The Sooners advance to the winners bracket and will face the winner of Florida State-Samford on Saturday at 4 p.m. CT.
On a day in which ace pitcher Jake Irvin had a subpar outing, the Sooners made up for it at the plate 22 hits and 20 runs, the latter of which ties the season high. All of this was accomplished without the help of Steele Walker and Kyler Murray, who were out with injuries once again.
Irvin went 3.1 innings, allowing eight runs (seven earned) on seven hits and four walks. Kyle Tyler came in and earned the win despite giving up a pair of home runs in 2.2 innings of work. Braidyn Fink allowed two hits in 0.2, and Lane Ramsey relieved him with a clean 1.1.
Oklahoma had plenty of stars at the plate in this one, as five different batters had at least three hits. However, Brandon Zaragoza was the guy who stood out, going 4-7 with four RBIs. Justin Mitchell, Kyle Mendenhall, Thomas Hughes and Blake Brewster added three hits apiece, as well.
Oklahoma pounced on the Bulldogs early when Zaragoza singled up the middle in Oklahoma’s second at-bat of the game, and Brylie Ware followed that up by drawing a walk. Mitchell, who has stepped up at the plate for this team in recent weeks, singled through the hole into left to plate Zaragoza and get the Sooners on the board. Mendenhall then put one in the right-center gap to plate Ware and put two in scoring position. Hughes grounded out to first on the next at-bat, but an unsuccessful attempt to throw Mitchell out at home resulted an error, and Mendenhall followed Mitchell home to make it 4-0.
Oklahoma added another one in the top of the second when Zaragoza singled up the middle to plate Brewster, making it 5-0.
Raining RUNS in Tallahassee!— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 1, 2018
Top 2nd | OU 5 | MISS St. 0 pic.twitter.com/xX30lHnC6S
Mississippi State struck back in the bottom half with a Dustin Skelton two-run homer towards the circus tent in right. The wheels then began to fall off for Irvin in the third when he allowed three runs on two hits and three walks, leaving the contest tied 5-5.
OU bounced back with a nice two-run frame in the top of the fourth. After a Cade Harris walk and a Ware double off the wall in left, Mitchell came up big once again with another RBI single to give OU the lead. Mendenhall then brought Ware home with a sac fly to right, making it 7-5. MSU bounced back in a big way in the bottom half, sending a pair of two-run bombs to right field, giving the Bulldogs a 9-7 lead and chasing Irvin in the process.
After a Mississippi State solo shot in the bottom of the sixth, OU absolutely went off in the top of the seventh. OU scored nine runs on seven hits, four walks, an HBP and a pair of errors in the frame. Pinch hitter Brady Lindsly was responsible for each of Oklahoma’s first tow outs as OU sent 15 runners to the plate in a 49-minute half inning. The frame included hits from Hughes (2), Cade Cavalli, Brewster, Harris, Zaragoza and Mendenhall.
BOOMER.— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 1, 2018
Top 7 | OU 12 | Miss St. 10 pic.twitter.com/27CXIaHsp9
Oklahoma added a cushion to that lead in the top of the ninth with four runs on five hits, all of which were doubles, with Lindsly, Brewster, Harris, Zaragoza and Mendenhall getting in on the action.
Oklahoma’s supporting cast has stepped up in a huge way as Walker and Murray continue to heal up. Guys like Mitchell, Hughes and Brewster were barely seeing the field during most of the regular season, but they’re playing like All-Conference performers when they’re needed most. The team is affectionately referring to themselves as the ‘Joes’, and we can only hope these regular Joes keep playing like stars.