Sooners Sweep Second Week of 2017

Sunday: playing from behind

Senior center fielder Ben Hollas (Longview, Texas) came through in the clutch yet again for the University of Oklahoma baseball team in a 5-4 win over Boston College at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Sunday afternoon. For the third time in his short Sooner career, Hollas sent OU into a celebration with a walk-off winner. Having entered as a defensive replacement in the top of the ninth, Hollas came to the plate for the first time Sunday with the bases loaded, nobody out and immediately delivered a game-winning single up the middle.

Oklahoma ran its win-streak to seven games and improved to 8-1 overall, while Boston College dropped to 2-4.

The two teams traded one run apiece in the second inning, but the Sooners would play from behind beginning in the fourth and needed to overcome and 4-1 deficit after the sixth.

The Sooners then got the offense going against the Eagles’ bullpen in the eighth and put up three runs on three hits, but the inning started with a leadoff-walk to freshman shortstop Brandon Zaragoza (Moore, Okla.). After a fly ball out, junior second baseman Kyle Mendenhall (Carlsbad, Calif.) dropped his third hit of the day in to shallow center field and sophomore center fielder Steele Walker (Prosper, Texas) followed with a single through the right side to score Zaragoza and extend his hit-streak to 12 games.

Senior designated hitter Austin O’Brien (Owasso, Okla.) was the third straight Sooner to single, which loaded the bases. Senior first baseman Jack Flansburg (Orange, Calif.) kept the inning alive by busting it down the line on a potential double play ball. He was safe on the fielder’s choice and Mendenhall came in to score. Oklahoma would tie the game on a passed ball, dropped by the BC catcher; allowing Walker to race home from third with the game-tying run.

“I wanted to see how our guys play behind,” said Hughes, who was coaching against one of his former teams. “That’s baseball, ya know, and the good teams that have been around know how to play when they’re up five and when they’re down five and I said it to our guys before the weekend.

Sophomore right-hander Dylan Grove (Moore, Okla.) pitched through the fourth before being relieved by redshirt-junior lefty Austin Kerns (Owasso, Okla.) in the fifth. Grove gave up three runs on seven hits and three walks with four strikeouts.

Kerns had his best outing of the young season with 2.1 innings of relief and one unearned run against him with one hit and one strikeout. He also induced a crucial double play to limit the Eagles’ chances in the fifth. Graduate right-hander Vincenzo Aiello (Staten Island, N.Y.) bridged the gap between Kerns and Olson by retiring the two batters he faced in the seventh.

saturday: "let's play two!"

The University of Oklahoma baseball team was victorious twice in its home 19 Ways Invitational in front of 1,126 at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Saturday. The Sooners improved to 7-1 overall and extended their win-streak to six games with an early afternoon win over Northern Illinois, 10-3, and a nightcap win over Villanova, 12-1.

In game one against Northern Illinois, Oklahoma tallied a season-high 16 hits and scored double digit runs for the third time in four games. The Sooners put crooked numbers up on the board on four occasions, including a quick two runs in the first. Senior center fielder Ben Hollas (Longview, Texas) led off with a double to right-center and junior second baseman Kyle Mendenhall (Carlsbad, Calif.) laid down a bunt-single to put runners on the corners. Oklahoma got the first run in on a wild pitch before senior third baseman Jack Flansburg (Orange, Calif.) drove in the second run of the inning.

The Sooners added two more runs in the third on three hits beginning with an infield-single to short by sophomore left fielder Steele Walker (Prosper, Texas) to lead off the inning and push his hit-streak to 10 games. Senior designated hitter Austin O’Brien (Owasso, Okla.) followed with a single through the left side to put runners on the corners. Walker was driven in by junior first baseman Lorin Archibald (Renton, Wash.); making his first start. Sophomore shortstop Cade Harris (Leona, Texas) drove in the second run on a line drive, sacrifice-fly to right to make it a 4-0 OU lead.

The Huskies were able to trim the lead back to two against Sooner sophomore right-hander Kyle Tyler (Oklahoma City) in the fifth. Shortstop Samuel Vega delivered a two-run, two-out base hit to center with the bases loaded to chase Tyler, who fell one out eligible of the win. In 4.2 innings of work, Tyler struck out a career-high seven and allowed the two runs on four hits and three walks.

Freshman right-hander Nathan Wiles (Overland Park, Kan.) was the first OU reliever out of the bullpen. Wiles (1-0) earned the win in 2.1-scoreless innings pitched. He struck out two and surrendered only one hit.

friday: taking care of business

The University of Oklahoma baseball team opened its 19 Ways Invitational with a 9-2 win over Villanova at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Friday evening. The Sooners, who have won four in a row, improved to 5-1, while the Wildcats remain winless at 0-4.

Sophomore right-hander Jake Irvin (Bloomington, Minn.) was dominant on the mound for the second time in as many starts this season. He went seven innings with seven strikeouts. Irvin (2-0) opened the top of the first with three quick outs on just seven pitches to set the tone early. Oklahoma was leaded 3-0 after the fifth before Villanova scratched across a run; ending Irvin’s 12-inning scoreless streak to start the season.

“You can go three-pitch mix with three good ones and then can go through a lineup three or four times and that’s good because it shortens the game for you, doesn’t beat up your bullpen, that’s what you want out of your Friday night guy. That’s what he is,” head coach Pete Hughes said of Irvin.

For the game, Irvin allowed four hits and two walks; yielding one run. He needed just 98 pitches to get through seven innings; the second time he has tossed under 100 to get through the seventh this season.

“He does have three plus-pitches, so that’s what he brings to the table. That kid is just a type A competitive everything he does, academics, anything. He’s got good stuff and he’s committed through things and you can’t limit your game plan against him now and it makes it difficult when there’s a third pitch,” Hughes commented on Irvin’s change-up.

Offensively, the Sooners backed Irvin with a single tally in the second, third and fourth. Senior first baseman Austin O’Brien (Owasso, Okla.) got the OU bats going with a leadoff-triple to left field. The ball was crushed and into a 20 MPH win and turned the defender around before landing as O’Brien slid into third with his second triple of the season. Two pitches later, senior third baseman Jack Flansburg (Orange, Calif.) singled home O’Brien with a base hit to center.

In the third, redshirt-freshman left fielder Kyler Murray (Allen, Texas) drew a one-out walk and put himself into scoring position by promptly stealing second base. Junior second baseman Kyle Mendenhall (Carlsbad, Calif.) singled sharply through the left side to put runners on the corners, which setup a RBI-force out hit into by sophomore center fielder Steele Walker (Prosper, Texas).

Sophomore designated hitter Brylie Ware (Sedgwick, Kan.) led off the fourth with a double to right-center and scored on a sacrifice-bunt by senior catcher Renae Martinez (San Pedro, Calif.) as the ball was fielded and thrown away.

midweek success:

The Sooners took care of Grambling State to begin the second week of the season with 10-2 and 11-2 wins on Tuesday and Wednesday.

TUESDAY

Junior right-hander Devon Perez (Ashburn, Va.) took the hill for the top of the third inning and retired the first 12 Grambling batters he faced. Oklahoma’s offense went to work in the bottom half with the first run of the day as senior catcher Renae Martinez (San Pedro, Calif.) reached on an error, stole second, moved to third on a balk and scored on a base hit by senior center fielder Ben Hollas (Longview, Texas).

“Those are the things you’re looking for early on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, guys who are going to expand a role,” head coach Pete Hughes said of Perez’ performance. “You never know when your opportunity is going to come. Devon was dominant in the zone. He had eight punch-outs and no walks. He definitely allowed us offensively to just settle in and not panic. He was really good and he was ready to go and focused. It’s an awesome first outing for his career at OU.”

The Sooners then added three runs in the fourth, including a two-run home run by senior third baseman Jack Flansburg (Orange, Calif.) and another three runs in the fifth. Oklahoma loaded the bases with nobody out as junior second baseman Kyle Mendenhall (Carlsbad, Calif.) and sophomore left fielder Steele Walker (Prosper, Texas) set the table with back-to-back singles. The three OU runs came in on a bases-loaded walk, fielder’s choice and throwing error.

“He got a good pitch to hit and the conditions were offensive early on for the right side of the field so it was good to get Jack going,” Hughes said of Flansburg’s home run. “He’s a kid that we missed terribly last year down the stretch. He can handle a bat, bunt and he walks like no one’s business. It’s good to get that little power surge and take some pressure off our offense.”

Perez (1-0) totaled five innings of work and gave up two runs on three hits, all in his final inning of work. He registered eight strikeouts without allowing a walk. The Tigers first got to Perez in the top of the seventh with a leadoff solo home run by third baseman Daniel Barnett.

Oklahoma poured in four more runs in the eighth inning, which started with a single through the right side by Blake Brewster (Moore, Okla.) to leadoff the frame. A pair of bases-loaded walks forced in two runs before sophomore designated hitter Domenic DeRenzo (Pittsburgh, Pa.), playing his first game since June 2016 Tommy John surgery, lifted a sacrifice-fly to the deep right field corner that scored two more runs.

WEDNESDAY

Oklahoma put crooked numbers up on the board four times and as early as the first inning with a pair of runs. Redshirt-freshman left fielder Kyler Murray (Allen, Texas) drew a leadoff-walk in the bottom of the first and sophomore third baseman Brylie Ware (Sedgwick, Kan.) followed with a single up the middle to set the table. Sophomore center fielder Steele Walker (Prosper, Texas) then singles home Murray, who went first-to-third on the Ware single, for the first run of the game. OU would add a run in the inning on a sacrifice-fly by senior second baseman Jack Flansburg (Orange, Calif.).

The Tigers tied the game at 2-2 immediately in the top of the second as catcher Johan Mojica hit a leadoff-double to left-center and designated hitter Rafael Ramirez put a two-run home run over the wall in right.

In support of sophomore right-hander Ryan Madden (Westminster, Colo.), the Sooners added three runs in the fourth and five in the fifth. Madden (1-0) got the win in just 4.2 innings of work with a predetermined pitch count heading into the day. He finished with 72 total pitches and allowed two runs on three hits and two walks with five strikeouts.

“I thought Ryan was good,” Hughes said of the OU starter. “When he lands his secondary stuff a little more, he is even better, but that is who he is. He gives you a chance to win because of his competitive spirit and his ability to throw a strike with a fastball. He lets up a two-run homer and boom, he is right back in the zone. Nothing rattles the kid, and when you have that kind of competitive spirit you will always have a chance.”

Senior first baseman Austin O’Brien (Owasso, Okla.) was issued a leadoff-walk and Flansburg hit a ground-rule double to straight away center that put two runners in scoring position with no outs in the fourth. Grambling’s lefty starter Jonathan Reid (0-1), who had minimized the damage in the first with a sac-fly and a double play, got two quick outs before the Sooners were able to push across a run. Redshirt-sophomore right fielder Quin Walbergh (Edmond, Okla.) put OU back in front with a two-run triple ripped off the left field wall. He would end up scoring a batter later on an error by the Tigers’ third baseman to push the Sooner lead to 5-2.

The game was broken open in the fifth when Oklahoma plated five runs on three hits to two Grambling errors. The Sooners batted around in the inning and got big hits from Ware and O’Brien. Ware, who finished the day 2-for-5, drove in two with his second base hit to center and O’Brien tripled to right-center to drive him in.

UP NEXT:

The Sooner's continue the home stand on Tuesday when they take on University of Arkansas- Little Rock at 3:00PM. The Sooner's then host Central Connecticut State on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Credits:

Brendan Flynn // Ty Russell // OU Athletics

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