Baseball gets 4-3 win over No. 20 Oklahoma in second day of JU Invitational
Junior catcher Alex Swenson
Junior catcher Alex Swenson
Sooner or later the Dolphin pitching staff will be back to full strength from injuries but a combined effort by three healthy arms allowed everyone to think about something else for a change as the JU baseball team defeated No. 20 Oklahoma, 4-3, Saturday afternoon in the second day of the JU Invitational at John Sessions Stadium.

Junior LHP Matt Tomshaw (1-1) hurled a gem by allowing two runs on six hits with three strikeouts in six innings. Sophomore Clay Kollenbaum allowed only one unearned run and two hits in 1.2 innings. Junior Chris Kaminski took the hill for the second straight day to allow only one hit in 1.1 innings for his first save of the year.

Valparaiso opened the day with a 9-1 win over Richmond.

JU (3-3) overcame another deficit (this time a 2-0 hole in the fourth) but after another Dolphins’ rally they were able to hold the lead for the first time this season.

OU (5-1) dropped its first contest despite tallying a game-high nine hits but left five runners on base and did not draw a walk in the entire game.

“It feels good to not only see us beginning to play well but what we are capable of when we do,” said JU head coach Terry Alexander. “We know that our pitching staff is not completely healthy but our guys did a tremendous job against a very good ball club. Hopefully, this is the game that we can look back and say that it started something for us.”

J.R. Robinson (0-1) was tagged with the loss after allowing four runs on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts in four innings.

Not one Dolphin finished with multiple hits but three of the six total hits were big. Freshman designated hitter Adam Brett Walker drove in a game-high two runs with a double. Junior catcher Alex Swenson had an RBI single to take the lead and freshman centerfielder Dan Gulbransen added his first collegiate home run for insurance.

Garrett Buechele led the Sooners by going 3-for-4 with a double while Max White tallied a solo home run.

OU jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning when Drew Harrison hit a ball off a diving Opachich’s glove on the right side to drive in Beuchele from second with two outs.

The Sooners made it 2-0 in the second when White’s solo shot cleared the right center fence with two outs.

Tomshaw would settle down and retired 12 of the next 15 batters he faced as only one OU player got past first base (a sacrifice bunt by Ricky Eisenburg in the third).

The Dolphins took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth when Walker hit a two-run double to left center and junior catcher Alex Swenson poked an RBI single into left field with two outs.

Senior second baseman Chuck Opachich led off the inning with an infield single to second and then moved to second after senior first baseman Alex Martinez drew a walk. After both runners advanced a base on a sac bunt by junior left fielder Chris Connelly, Walker cleared the bases with a drive into the gap. After Walker moved to third on a fly to right by junior shortstop Jamaal Hawkins, Swenson dropped a single over the head of shortstop Caleb Bushyhead to give JU the lead.

JU increased the advantage to 4-2 in the bottom of the fifth when Gulbransen led off the inning with a tower shot over the right field wall.

The Sooners cut the lead to 4-3 in the top of the eighth when pinch hitter Casey Johnson scored from third when a throw to get pinch runner Chris Ellison at second was deflected and rolled into shallow right. With a runner still on second and two outs, Kaminski got Harrison to fly out to center to end the inning.

The Dolphins will complete their weekend on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. against Valparaiso in the final day of the JU Invitational. No. 20 Oklahoma and Richmond will start the day at 9:30 a.m.