Sooners Take Opening Series against Long Beach State

The University of Oklahoma baseball team claimed its season-opening series with a 4-2 win over No. 17 Long Beach State at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Sunday afternoon. The Sooners improved to 2-1 on the season with the series finale victory.

SUNDAY

Trailing 2-0, Oklahoma got a run back in the bottom of the fifth as freshman designated hitter Brady Lindsly (Keller, Texas) smacked a leadoff-double into the right field corner and scored on a RBI-single through the left side by senior catcher Renae Martinez (San Pedro, Calif.). An inning later, the Sooners tied the game and took the lead as they plated three runs on three hits and a pair of walks.

“Great senior leadership today,” emphasized head coach Pete Hughes. “Our three captains; Renae with a big RBI early, Stoney [O’Brien] with a huge situational sac-fly today in a big situation and then JB comes in and gets a six-out save. That’s your senior captains and the core leadership and all the corny coach stuff going a long way. I loved the fact that we played from behind in a rubber match. There was no panic, there was composure and a veteran approach of playing behind at home.”

Sophomore center fielder Steele Walker (Prosper, Texas) started the sixth with a triple into the right-center gap and scored on a sacrifice-fly from senior first baseman Austin O’Brien (Owasso, Okla.). Back-to-back walks then set the table for Oklahoma’s one-out, two-run rally. In his first appearance as a Sooner, junior Lorin Archibald (Renton, Wash.) delivered a pinch-hit, RBI-single to put OU in front. Freshman shortstop Brandon Zaragoza (Moore, Okla.) then doubled the Sooner lead with a single to center; marking his third straight game with a RBI.

Senior right-handed pitcher JB Olson (Shady Shores, Texas) entered as the third OU reliever on the day for his second appearance of the weekend at the top of the eighth. He nailed down his first save of the season by getting six outs and working around a hit in each frame to go with one strikeout.

In his first start since late-March, sophomore right-hander Kyle Tyler (Oklahoma City) left the game without a decision despite 5.2-strong innings of work. He gave up two runs on four hits and two walks with three strikeouts. Freshman lefty Braidyn Fink (Moore, Okla.), a former high school teammate of Tyler’s at Westmoore, was the first Sooner out of the bullpen and retired the lone Dirtbag he faced to finish the sixth. Fink (1-0) was credited with the win as Oklahoma came out to tie and take the lead in the bottom half of the frame.

Kyle Tyler

“A positive for the weekend was to get three good starts,” Hughes said of his team’s starting pitching. “Kyle Tyler came out and minimized extra baserunners and good things happened. You look what happened that [fourth] inning; a leadoff-walk and then we can't field the bunt correctly. Fundamentals and the ability to throw strikes usually cuts down runs for your opponent.

Long Beach got each of its runs in the fourth as a leadoff-walk and a bunt-single set the table. Designated hitter Luke Rasmussen then followed with a two-run double to right-center that gave the Dirtbags the lead.

Long Beach’s right-handed starter John Sheaks (0-1) took the loss in 5.1 innings. He allowed three runs on four hits and two walks with two strikeouts.

For the game, OU outhit LBSU, 7-6 with Walker leading the way with a 2-for-4 day.

Saturday

Oklahoma totaled seven hits in the first three innings, but managed just one run and stranded five men on base. A line drive double play got David Smith, the Dirtbags’ starter, out of trouble in the first, but the Sooners put together a one-out rally in the second. A trifecta of OU newcomers singled, including a RBI-single by freshman shortstop Brandon Zaragoza (Moore, Okla.) to drive in the first run of the day.

The Sooners threatened again in the third with a leadoff-double by junior second baseman Kyle Mendenhall (Carlsbad, Calif.) to start off the frame. Senior first baseman Austin O’Brien (Owasso, Okla.) singled to short, but the ball hit in front of Mendenhall caused him to stay at second and was the pivotal play of the inning. The two advanced on a bunt, but were left in scoring position.

Long Beach began to challenge Oklahoma sophomore right-hander Dylan Grove (Moore, Okla.) in the middle innings. The Dirtbags tied the game in the top of the fifth without getting a ball off the infield. Shortstop Markus Montelongo reached on a one-out bunt-single and came around to score on a bases-loaded walk.

The Sooners answered in the bottom half to retake the lead as Mendenhall was hit by a pitch and scored on a single to right-center by senior third baseman Jack Flansburg (Orange, Calif.).

In the sixth, Grove would leave with one out and a runner on third, but a 2-1 Sooner lead. Long Beach tied the game on a double to right-center by catcher David Banuelos against redshirt-junior lefty Austin Kerns (Owasso, Okla.) to score center fielder Brooks Stotler, who tripled.

Grove struck out a career-high seven in the start for OU in a no-decision. He allowed two runs, one earned, on three hits and three walks in 5.1 innings.

Friday

Sophomore right-hander Jake Irvin (Bloomington, Minn.) was dominant in a 6-2 win for the University of Oklahoma baseball team over No. 17 Long Beach State in front of a crowd of 1,373 at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Friday evening. He picked up the win in seven-shutout innings of one-hit ball and matched his career-high in strikeouts with 10.

“That kid hasn’t been put on the ropes many times in his career,” began head coach Pete Hughes on Irvin’s start. “He’s one of the best pitchers in the country. He’s a Team USA guy. When you can come out the first seven innings with one hit, 10 strikeouts and no walks it affords you a lot of opportunities. It gets the runs going and gets some momentum in your dugout.”

Irvin, who finished last season as the Sooners’ Friday night pitcher, started the day by striking out the side in the top of the first inning. From there, Oklahoma would soon on the board first in the bottom of the second. Senior third baseman Jack Flansburg (Orange, Calif.) tripled to left and scored on an errant throw sent past him on a failed pick-off attempt. Flansburg finished the game 3-for-4 with a pair of runs as he recorded his second three-hit day as a Sooner.

In the bottom of the fourth, sophomore left fielder Steele Walker (Prosper, Texas) led off with a double and scored immediately on a RBI-single to center by senior first baseman Austin O’Brien (Owasso, Okla.). Oklahoma added two more runs in the inning on a bases-loaded walk and RBI-groundout.

The Sooners struck for two more against Long Beach right-hander Darren McCaughan (0-1) one solo home runs in the sixth. Senior catcher Renae Martinez (San Pedro, Calif.) turned on an inside pitch and smashed it over the wall in left. Sophomore right fielder Blake Brewster (Moore, Okla.) followed with a homer of his own to deep right-center.

Brewster and Martinez Celebrate Home Runs at the Plate.

“There was a pretty good disciplined approach by our offense one through nine and when we had opportunities to score we put the ball in play and good things happened,” continued Hughes. “I’m proud of our guys because we got a good start, we got on the board early and we kept a good momentum, which is a sign of a team that has played some college games before; a veteran team.”

After Irvin exited the game, retiring the last 18 batters he faced, the Dirtbags made things interesting in the top of the eighth. Senior right-hander JB Olson (Shady Shores, Texas) came on as the second OU reliever in the inning with the bases loaded and nobody out. On just one pitch, he induced an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. Long Beach would then get to Olson for a pair of runs on three hits in the ninth to put the game at its final score.

Next Up

The Sooners return to L. Dale Mitchell Park this Tuesday to take on Grambling State in a midweek matchup. First pitch on Tuesday is set for 3:00 PM. Wednesday the two teams will face off again at 3:00 PM, before the Sooners defend home field this weekend in the 19 Ways Invitational featuring Northern Illinois, Villanova, and Boston College.

Credits:

Brendan Flynn // Ty Russell // OU Athletics

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