NORMAN, Okla. — Back in his home state, Cam O’Brien homered and drove in a career-high five runs, sparking West Virginia’s comeback for a series-clinching 9-5 win at Oklahoma on Saturday.
The Mountaineers (19-16, 4-7) matched their season-high with 18 hits and rallied from four runs down to take two of three in the series.
“That’s what you call a character win,” said West Virginia coach Randy Mazey. “A game like that shows the character of your team. That’s the grind-it-out, relentless mentality we’ve talked about from the first day of our program.”
Ryan Tezak (2-0) picked up the victory with 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, while converted starter Sean Carley earned a save in his first closing appearance, allowing one run on three hits over 2 1/3 innings.
Bobby Boyd and Brad Johnson collected four hits each for the Mountaineers, whose RPI improved from 45 to 33 during their three days in Norman.
“Anytime we can get production out of (Nos.) 6 through 9 in our lineup, we’re going to score a lot of runs.” — West Virginia coach Randy Mazey
The biggest blows were struck by O’Brien. The Tulsa native who had only seven RBIs in this season’s first 29 games, belted his second homer of the season—a three-run blast off Sooners starter Jacob Evans in the sixth inning—to pull WVU to within 4-3. The switch-hitting O’Brien was batting from the left side when he added a two-run insurance double in the ninth.
“They were throwing breaking ball after breaking ball and I just kept swinging at bad pitches,” O’Brien said. “Finally I told myself, I was going to sit on a good breaking ball and I got one. I put a good swing on it. After that first hit it was kind of a confidence booster.”
Jacob Rice, another Tulsa product, finished with three hits, including a single against Oklahoma reliever Ladd Kindle (3-2) that tied the game at 4-4 in the seventh. Johnson followed with another RBI single before pinch-hitter Jackson Cramer doubled off the center-field wall to make it 6-4.
The bottom four spots in the WVU order combined to go 8-for-18 with eight RBIs.
“Anytime we can get production out of (Nos.) 6 through 9 in our lineup, we’re going to score a lot of runs,” Mazey said.
After Kindle allowed three runs on four hits in one inning, followup reliever Ralph Garza Jr. struggled as well, allowing three runs over 2 1/3 innings. One of those runs came on Michael Constantini’s first career homer—a solo shot in the eighth.
“He was running the bases like a little kid, which is good to see,” Rice said.
Oklahoma (25-16, 5-7) jumped to a 4-0 lead through two innings against Corey Walter, making his first start in more than a year for West Virginia. Mac James and Hunter Haley hit back-to-back homers in the bottom of the first to build a 3-0 margin and Craig Aikin’s RBI single added another run in the second. But Walter surrendered nothing more, throwing 60 pitches before leaving after four innings.
Walter allowed four runs, three earned, on six hits with one strikeout and one walk.
“After the first inning, he settled in pretty good,” Mazey said. “That’s the best he’s pitched this year.”
Oklahoma’s Evans gave up three runs on 11 hits with four strikeouts and no walks in 5 2/3 innings.
West Virginia plays five home games next week, hosting Maryland on Tuesday and Marshall on Wednesday before Kansas State arrives for a three-game series beginning Friday.