NORMAN – 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.
“Well he walked off Texas last year and Skip said, ‘hey put in Hollas who walked who walked us off last year’, I’m just kidding,” joked head coach Pete Hughes. “Actually, I put Ben in there after Kyler’s last at-bat, defensively, and it just rolled around to his spot in the order. There’s a senior guy, right, and he’s a guy who has been in a big situation before, a big moment before so that was an easy one for me to stick with him there because I knew he wasn’t going to get himself out and give us a good chance of a productive at bat.”
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.
Oklahoma’s bats lay dormant against BC lefty Dan Metzdorf, who retired the last 11 batters he faced in seven innings of work. 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.
The OU bullpen combined to throw five innings with just one unearned run allowed back in the sixth on a dropped fly ball. In for his second inning of relief after striking out the side in the eighth, senior right-hander JB Olson (Shady Shores, Texas) got around a one-out single to send the Sooners back to the plate to walk it off in the bottom of the ninth.
“When JB gets up on the mound, there’s a sense of confidence and comfort in our dugout and our team plays that way offensively as well,” Hughes stated of Olson’s effect on the team.
Senior catcher Renae Martinez (San Pedro, Calif.) led off and reached on an error by the BC shortstop, sophomore right fielder Domenic DeRenzo (Pittsburg, Pa.) drew a four-pitch walk and Zaragoza dribbled a bunt up the third base line for an infield-single to load the bases. With the infield drawn in, Hollas lined the first pitch he had seen all day off the glove of a diving second baseman and into center field to bring home Martinez.
Olson (1-0) got the win in two innings of work with one hit against him and three strikeouts. 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.
Metzdorf got a no-decision in seven innings pitched. He allowed just one run on five hits and two walks and struck out six. Right-hander Bobby Skogsbergh (0-2), the second Boston College reliever of the day, got the loss. He got two outs to end the eighth, but gave up a total of three hits and a walk; yielding the Sooners’ game-winning run, which was unearned to Skogsbergh.
The Sooners outhit the Eagles, 10-9, for the game. Mendenhall finished 3-for-4 with a run scored and Zaragoza was 2-for-3 with a run, RBI and a walk. Right fielder Donovan Casey and catcher Gian Martellini, who scored on and drove in another, were both 2-for-4 for BC.
Oklahoma remains at home in the midweek, the midway point of its 19-game homestand, for a 3 p.m. contest against Little Rock on Tuesday, February 28.