GRANVILLE — Transitioning from a first baseman to a left fielder is not exactly easy.
It’s sort of like a heavy-metal rocker trying to become an opera singer.
WVU’s Landon Wallace was indeed singing a sweet tune Friday night with a two-run homer and an impressive assist on an out at the plate, as the No. 12 Mountaineers ran past Oklahoma, 9-3, in front of 3,411 fans inside Mon County Ballpark.
WVU (35-11, 12-4 Big 12) has now won 10 consecutive games and seven in a row against Big 12 schools.
But, we get back to Wallace, who came to WVU this season out of the portal from Nevada. Apparently, he already knew a little something about changing positions.
“I was a catcher in high school,” he said. “I think I was the No. 8 catcher in California. I was pretty good.”
When he arrived at Nevada, Wallace was moved to first base. When he transferred to WVU, head coach Randy Mazey asked him to play outfield.
“He’s come light years as far as how he’s playing right now,” Mazey said. “It’s not easy, but he’s always here for early work in the outfield. He’s come so far. It’s a credit to him and (assistant coach Steve Sabins) and all the work they do before you guys (the media) ever think about coming to a game.”
Wallace’s two-run homer — his ninth of the season — gave WVU a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
His throw from left field may have saved the game, as WVU ended a two-game losing streak against the Sooners (25-21, 9-10), who played for the national championship last season.
Oklahoma had already cut the deficit and made it a 2-1 game when Easton Carmichael ripped a two-out single to left with runners on first and second base.
“I saw Ellis (Garcia) at third, and I’m thinking I’ve got to hit him in the head,” with the throw, Wallace said. “From there, I just couldn’t over complicate it.”
Wallace’s throw sailed perfectly over Garcia’s head and into Dayne Leonard’s glove at the plate a good two steps ahead of Dakota Harris, who was trying to score from second.
“I look back at that play Landon made in the third, and that just changed my whole outing,” said WVU starter Ben Hampton (5-1), who picked up the win after going six innings and allowing just one run. “To get out of that just giving up one run, it kind of gave us energy on offense and set up a good day for us.”
Grant Hussey added two RBI doubles for the Mountaineers and Garica scored two more with a single. Oklahoma pitchers also combined for nine walks and hit three batters, which added to WVU’s output.
Aidan Major came on in relief and picked up his second save of the season by going three innings. He gave up two runs on five hits.
But, the day belonged to Wallace, who seems to have found himself a home in left field after playing just about everywhere else during his career.
“I’ve never pitched,” he said. “I don’t think I ever will.”
Game 2 of the series is at 4 p.m. Saturday, with WVU sending Blaine Traxel to the mound. The Mountaineers will be looking for their first series win against the Sooners since 2019, as well as maintaining their lead in the Big 12. WVU is two games ahead of both Oklahoma State and Kansas State.