Taylor Alspaugh ice-water bath after Saturday’s series finale was the end of a back-and-forth, stressful Big 12 matchup. It was also the first Big 12 Conference series sweep for Hughes at Oklahoma.
The Sooners recorded 37 hits in three games, rallied from a pair of eighth-inning deficits for two extra-inning victories and gave up a four-run lead Saturday.
Those three days might have a lasting impact on Hughes’ blood pressure, but they also mean a lot for the Sooners climb back up the Big 12 standings.
“It’s so hard to sweep anybody in this league because everybody is so good,” Hughes said. “To be able to do that and take advantage of really playing at home, we made up for some lost ground. In the end, it’s all about how many wins you have in conference. It doesn’t matter if it comes via a sweep or not. Every time you get out there it’s important to get a win.”
Oklahoma (22-12, 6-3 Big 12) will face Oklahoma State in a Bedlam matchup Tuesday night, riding the wave of a season-best, five-straight victories and six-straight series finale wins. The Sooners won just one conference series finale last season.
“Just counting the wins, especially in the Big 12,” said Alspaugh, who drove in the winning run on an error while just trying to fight off a two-strike count. “You have a milestone that you want to get to at the end of the season to either be competing for a Big 12 Championship or a regional.
“One win gets us even closer.”
Designated hitter Jacob Evans provided the game-winning, extra-inning hit to win the series opener, and Oklahoma scored three late runs to hold on to a lead Friday night.
Facing the best hitting team in the conference, Hughes knew that no lead would be safe, which is why he was disappointed when the Sooners couldn’t extend a four-run lead through the middle innings Saturday in the finale.
“We showed some good resiliency this weekend,” said first baseman Anthony Hermelyn, who went 7-for-12 one the weekend. “… For us to hang in there and get some big hits when we needed them and keep fighting was big for us.”
The Big 12’s top two offenses in terms of batting average provided plenty of momentum swings over a three-game series. The two teams combined for 37 runs and 59 hits on the weekend.
Oklahoma scored the last one in the two biggest moments, though.
“It’s just the momentum and the guys playing together,” Alspaugh said. “We are starting to gel a little bit with the lineup changes that we’ve had. Everyone is starting to be more comfortable in their role and their spot. Everything is coming together at the right time.”