NORMAN – The University of Oklahoma baseball team picked up an 11-2 win over Grambling State at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Tuesday afternoon. The Sooners improved to 3-1 with the win, while the Tigers evened out at 2-2.
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.
Sophomore right-hander Austin Hansen (Lenexa, Kan.) made his first start as a Sooner and pitched two-scoreless innings. He held the Tigers hitless and posted three strikeouts to two walks. For Grambling, righty Elijah Saunders (0-1) pitched 4.1 innings in the loss as he allowed seven runs, six earned, on eight hits and three walks to go with three strikeouts.
Oklahoma totaled 10 hits for the game with three players recording two-hit days. Senior first baseman Austin O’Brien (Owasso, Okla.) was 2-for-2 with two runs scored in his only two at-bats before being lifted with OU holding a seven-run lead. The Sooners and the Tigers take the field again on Wednesday for a 3 p.m. first pitch. Sophomore right-hander Ryan Madden (Westminster, Colo.) gets the ball for Oklahoma.