CNHI News Services
With cold temperatures, a brisk wind and two highly touted pitchers taking the mound, a pitchers’ duel seemed like the likely outcome of Oklahoma’s series opener against Pepperdine on Friday.
Instead, a shivery slugfest ensued at L. Dale Mitchell Park. The Sooners (10-0) figured out how to win in that manner, too, topping the Waves, 10-7.
OU freshman left fielder Hunter Haley went 1 for 3, drove in three runs and ignited the Sooners’ seven-run third inning with the first home run of his career.
Even he admitted Friday that it did not seem the likely day a feat like that would occur.
“It was tough. It was cold because of the wind. In the outfield, balls were moving around. We tried not to let it bother us,” Haley said. “We figured it would be tougher for them because they’re not really used to it.”
Pepperdine (6-4), whose campus sits on Pacific shore in Malibu, Calif., didn’t have much problem adjusting to temperatures in the low 40s or wind chills in the low 30s. It banged out nine hits, including first baseman Sam Meyer’s three-run blast in the fourth inning.
The pitchers had the problems. Pepperdine’s Scott Frazier was the first to crack. After Haley’s homer to start the third inning, OU kept adding runs in every way imaginable. Jack Mayfield and Max White both reached on bunt singles. Designated hitter Matt Oberste lifted his hitting streak to 10 games with an RBI single through the left side and catcher Anthony Hermelyn added another RBI single. The rest of the damage came on two bases-loaded walks and a pair of sacrifice flies.
“I thought our big inning was just outstanding,” OU coach Sunny Golloway said. “We laid down a drag and we laid down a push after a base knock. Then our guys had the courage to keep laying the bat down because he couldn’t find the zone; he kept trying to make the perfect pitch with the bases loaded. We were able to push those runs across because nobody got too greedy or tried to do too much.”
Frazier (1-1) took the loss. The 6-foot-7 right hander gave up eight runs on eight hits over six innings.
However, Pepperdine almost got him off the hook for the loss. After OU seized that commanding eight-run lead, the Waves answered with six runs in the top of the fourth inning.
Meyer’s three-run blast was one of five hits OU ace Dillon Overton allowed in the frame.
“In weather like this, it’s hard to get a feel for the ball because your muscles never loosen up. It’s hard to hit your spots,” Overton said. “You’re gonna have days like this all the time in baseball, especially early in the season. You have to go out there and fight through for your team and for yourself.”
Overton improved to 4-0 with the win, but saw his ERA skyrocket from 0.56 to 2.86 after allowing six runs on six hits. Overton struck out 10, but he also issued four walks.
Nonetheless, a win was a win for the Sooners. They’ll try to secure the series when the teams return to L. Dale Mitchell Park fir Game 2 of three-game set at 2 p.m. today.