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April 17, 2014

Sooners hoping to carry momentum from Bedlam

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Even if it meant giving up an out Oklahoma head coach Pete Hughes was willing to do so. Getting a run- and even more importantly a lead - in the top of the first has been too far and few between.

Even if it meant asking Anthony Hermelyn to do something he hadn't done but twice all season.

That's why when lead off hitter Craig Aikin singled to left and then advanced to second on an error by Cowboy left fielder Gage Green, Hughes asked Hermelyn to lay down his third sacrifice bunt of the year.

Hermelyn layed it down the third base line and was retired but Aikin stood 90 feet from scoring.

Two batters later Aikin scored. As did friends Sheldon Neuse and Mac James after Austin O'Brien blasted his first career grand slam off Oklahoma State starter Garrett Williams.

It wasn't how he planned it but there was no complaining from Hughes.

All 12 of Oklahoma's runs were valuable Tuesday night in an 18 inning, five hour and fifty-two minute Bedlam affair.

The 12-9 final the Sooners first victory in Stillwater since 1992 as was it the school's longest record game in program history.

"I love those games. That's what its all about," Hughes said Wednesday afternoon, not too long after Sheldon Neuse recorded the final out at 12:28 a.m.. "There's a lot of strategy and there's a lot of pressure. The kids got to make plays. They've got to make pitches. And you've gotta get hits so those games are fun and that was awesome."

When his squad opens a three game series versus West Virginia (17-15, 2-6) on Thursday night they will need that and much more to carry over after winning the second longest game in Big 12 history.

Offensive production that scored back-to-back four spots in the first and second innings and then three with two outs to pull ahead in the 18th would be nice as well. Runs haven't come easy over the last month with his squad hitting .200 as a team.

"We hadn't been out in front to start a game in forever so there I am and we play for a run in the first. We bunt and then we get four (runs)," said Hughes.

"Oklahoma State is a team that's playing really well. This is going to be something we can build on and get back to our days where we were productive offensively."

Which will make things a lot easier defensively. The O'Brien grand slam marked only the second time in its last 14 games Oklahoma scored first in a game. Over that same span of games the Sooners lead off hitter in the had only reached base twice.

"There's nothing like offense. It makes pitching easier. It makes playing defense easier," said Hughes. "When you get a lead and you're not chasing. The game is easier."

'HE'S MY MVP'

Kindle Ladd threw a career-high 83 pitches on Tuesday night. Four days prior he kept his team in the game after a poor outing from starter Corey Copping.

With the most innings logged out of the Sooner bullpen Ladd has been a calming presence for Hughes. With intentions to move Ladd into the Sooners starting rotation by seasons end, Hughes said Wednesday the senior right-hander has been his team's Most Valuable Player to date.

"For me he's my MVP for the season so far," said Hughes. "Everytime we get a bad start he settles us down. (Tuesday) where it could be disappointing and the wheels are falling off Kindle comes in and settles everyone down. Just throws strikes."

"He loves the moment. Competes and gives you a chance to win."

Even with the heavy mid-week workload Hughes said Ladd is not done for the rest of the weekend and could be available- again- out of the Sooners bullpen by the second game of the West Virginia series this weekend.

NEW FACE AT SECOND?

It didn't change his mentality much once word came down that he'd be making his first career start at second base.

Kolbey Carpenter was prepared to make the most of the opportunity no matter where he played in the field. Those types of opportunities haven't come around much during his sophomore season in Norman.

"I found out right when we started stretching Keach Ballard came up and told me that I was playing second," said Carpenter, who started 50 games as a freshman.

"I pretty much come to the park everyday expecting to play and prepared to play."

With the position in flux after Ballard and Joshua Ake have struggled committing a combined 12 errors this season, Carpenter appears to have taken a step in solidifying his candidacy at the position after driving home the Sooners go-ahead run in the top of the 18th, capping his second three hit effort versus Oklahoma State of his career.

"I had him in there for his bat and I thought he played fast defensively too," said Hughes of the Waco (Texas) native. "There's a kid who is sitting there and hasn't played as much as he had last year. He could have really got caught up in himself and he never really lost sight of the team concept."

Carpenter, who also added his first homerun of the season with a solo shot to left field in the 7th, doesn't think much of it. He just wants to see his name- somewhere- in the line up.

"I can play anywhere so it doesn't really surprise me to go in at any particular position," Carpenter said. "It just feels good to have the opportunity to get in there and help the team win."

More of those opportunities are likely to in the future.

BY THE NUMBERS

3: Three Oklahoma players posted three hit games Tuesday night versus Oklahoma State. Starters Craig Aikin and Kolbey Carpenter as well as Tayor Alspaugh (3-for-5) after entering as a pinch runner for Niko Buentello in the top of the seventh.

16: After hitting two doubles versus OSU, freshman Sheldon Neuse enters this weekend in a tie for No. 8 nationally with 16 doubles on the year. It was the second time Neuse collected two doubles in a game this season and he is currently tied for first in the conference with Texas Tech's Adam Kirsch (16).

33: Oklahoma and Oklahoma State combined for 33 hits in Tuesday's 18-inning marathon.

640: There were 640 pitches thrown by a combined 16 different pitchers in the record setting 18-inning game.

PITCHING MATCH-UPS

Thursday - Corey Copping (2-0, 3.00 ERA 33.0 IP) vs. John Means (4-1, 1.72 ERA)

Friday - Adam Choplick (3-2, 4.27 ERA 46.1 IP) vs. Harrison Musgrave (3-2, 1.73 ERA)

Saturday - Jacob Evans (3-2, 3.73 ERA 31.1 IP) vs. Sean Carley (5-1, 2.73 ERA)



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