GRANVILLE, W.Va. – Blaine Traxel only made two major mistakes Saturday afternoon, but Oklahoma made him pay for both of them.
The Sooners (26-21, 10-10 Big 12) homered twice off Traxel in a 6-3 win over No. 12 West Virginia (35-12, 12-5 Big 12). Four of Oklahoma’s six runs came courtesy of multi-run long balls surrendered by the WVU starter.
“It [was] just a great college baseball game in front of a great crowd and a great atmosphere,” head coach Randy Mazey said. “The difference was they hit two balls that landed on the other side of the fence, and we hit nine balls that landed just [in front of] the fence. If the wind’s blowing out today, we probably win that game pretty handily.”
Oklahoma struck first, just three pitches into the game, when right fielder Bryce Madron launched a no-doubt, two-run homer to right field. It was the first home run Traxel surrendered in his last four starts. The Mountaineers responded quickly in the bottom half with a Landon Wallace RBI single that scored Tevin Tucker to halve the Sooner lead at 2-1. Wallace tallied 14 RBIs in all of February and March this season. In April and May, he has a running count of 29 RBIs.
Following the Mountaineer run, neither team scored during the span of the next four full innings in which each team recorded just two hits. The Sooners and Mountaineers also both played error-free games in the field. Sooner starter Braden Carmichael completed over six innings of work and allowed three runs or less for just the third time in 2023.
“[Carmichael] did what every pitcher is supposed to do,” Mazey said. “You’re supposed to throw your fastball on both sides of the plate [and] throw your off-speed pitches for strikes.”
Oklahoma shortstop Dakota Harris broke the scoreless streak with a two-run home run in the sixth, the second of the homers Traxel allowed Saturday. Though he earned a loss on the stat sheet, Traxel still completed seven full innings on the bump, striking out three, while allowing seven hits and five earned runs. His record now stands at 6-4.
WVU closer Carlson Reed allowed one earned run in two innings of work. In each of WVU’s games this week, Mazey used just one bullpen pitcher. Relievers Grant Siegel, Robby Porco, David Hagaman, and more should be available for Sunday’s rubber match. Mazey declined to name a starting pitcher postgame.
Wallace, JJ Wetherrholt, and Ellis Garcia all collected two hits apiece Saturday, which accounted for two-thirds of the marks in the WVU hit column. Both of Wetherholt’s hits were doubles, as he extended his reached-base streak to 49 consecutive games.
“We just gotta be careful,” Mazey said. “You know how it goes after a streak. The first time you lose after a streak [ends], [the losses] can pile up on you, so we have to make sure that does not happen tomorrow.”
After rain stunted Wednesday’s attempt at Operation 4356, WVU fans broke an all-time program attendance record Saturday with 4,378 fans in the stands and on the concourse at Monongalia County Ballpark. The previous record stood at 4,355 from WVU’s regional matchup against Fordham in 2019.
With storms in the forecast Sunday afternoon, first pitch of game three will take place at 11:00 a.m. instead of its regularly scheduled afternoon time slot.