NORMAN – The No. 15 University of Oklahoma baseball team walked off a 5-4 winner against No. 2 Texas Tech behind a ninth-inning home run from junior second baseman Kyle Mendenhall (Carlsbad, Calif.) at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Sunday afternoon. The Sooners and Red Raiders move out of the second weekend of Big 12 play with identical records of 25-6 overall and 4-2 in league play.
Mendenhall led off the bottom of the ninth and sent a 2-2 pitch over the wall in left-center to provide Oklahoma with its second walk-off win of the series. Last weekend, it was also Mendenhall that blasted the game-winner; a three-run homer in the second that stood up in a series-clinching win at Baylor.
“The way we draw it up, we have the fastest guy in college baseball on then we steal second base then we get him to third,” started head coach Pete Hughes. “That is scripted. However, I did not script Kyle Mendenhall hitting a home run. That is college athletics, it is never by the script.”
Hughes alluded to the Sooners getting the go-ahead run on in the eighth when senior third baseman Jack Flansburg (Orange, Calif.) drew a leadoff-walk. Redshirt-freshman Kyler Murray (Allen, Texas), who doubles as an OU quarterback, was called on to pinch-run. He stole second and advanced to third on a groundball out to the right side, but was stranded after Tech right-hander Jose Quezada got a hard grounder to first with the infield drawn in and a strikeout to end the threat.
Oklahoma led early with three runs in the first, but it was Texas Tech with a 4-3 lead after scoring three in the fourth. The Sooners turned the game over to their bullpen for the fifth and held the Red Raiders hitless the rest of the way.
“Five innings, no hits,” remarked Hughes. “I just looked at that. Nathan [Wiles] did a good job. We love him because he pounds the zone and it doesn’t scare him away from getting out of his zone. Then we bring in Connor [Berry] and JB [Olson] and they give us hitless baseball for five innings and put our team in a position to win.”
Sophomore right-hander Connor Berry (Sugar Land, Texas) was the first OU reliever out of the pen. He sat down six of the eight hitters he faced in two innings with two walks and two strikeouts. Senior right-hander JB Olson (Shady Shores, Texas) entered after Berry walked the leadoff man in the seventh. Olson (2-0) went on to finish the game with four strikeouts and the only batter to reach in his three innings of work was a two-out hit-by-pitch in the ninth.
Back in the top of the first inning, the Sooners took advantage of a pair of walks and a wild pitcher with clutch two-out hitting. Sophomore left fielder Steele Walker (Prosper, Texas) lined a base hit back up with box with runners on the corners to give OU a 1-0 lead. Senior catcher Renae Martinez (San Pedro, Calif.) then launched a two-run double to the track in right to make it 3-0.
Texas Tech got a run back in the third as shortstop Orlando Garcia led off with a double and scored on a groundout to first. An inning later, catcher Michael Berglund hit a leadoff-home run to trim the Sooner lead to one and the Red Raiders then mounted a two-out rally with three consecutive hits to take a 4-3 lead.
Rain began to fall as the game hit the fifth inning. In the bottom half, Oklahoma took advantage of senior center fielder Ben Hollas (Longview, Texas) reaching on a leadoff-error at second. The Sooners then successfully executed a hit-and-run with one out as Flansburg punched a base hit through the right side to put runners on the corners. Hollas came in to score the tying run on a fielder’s choice hit to the right side by Walker.
For the game, Texas Tech outhit Oklahoma. 8-5. Walker led the Sooner hitters with a 2-for-4, two-RBI day. Garcia finished 2-for-2 and third baseman Josh Jung 2-for for the Red Raiders.
Oklahoma remains at home Tuesday to face in-state rival Oral Roberts at 6:30 p.m.