NORMAN – The No. 19 University of Oklahoma baseball team came from behind to earn a 7-6 win over Kansas in front of 1,121 at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Sunday afternoon. The Sooners snapped a seven-game losing streak and improved to 28-15 overall and evener their Big 12 record at 6-6. The Jayhawks dropped to 19-20 and 8-7.
Sophomore center fielder Steele Walker (Prosper, Texas) led the way for the OU offense with a 3-for-5, four-RBI day. He struck out with the bases loaded and one down in the sixth and came up in the same scenario in the eighth with Oklahoma still trailing 6-5. Walker was first-pitch swinging and rifled a single to center to plate the tying and go-ahead runs.
Earlier in the game, Walker put the Sooners on the board with a two-out, RBI-single in the first and later hit a leadoff-home run to right in the third as Oklahoma attempted to erase and early 4-0 deficit.
Kansas knocked OU sophomore right-handed pitcher out of the game before he recorded an out in the first. The Jayhawks loaded the bases and forced two runs in with a walk and a hit-by-pitch.
The Sooners chipped away with a run in the first and second before taking the lead in the third with three runs. Following Walker’s team-leading sixth home run, sophomore designated hitter Brylie Ware (Sedgwick, Kan.) got the bats going again with a one-out single to left. A walk and a wild pitch put two runners in scoring position with two down. Freshman shortstop Brandon Zaragoza (Moore, Okla.) then came through with a two-run single to put OU in front.
Junior right-hander Devon Perez (Ashburn, Va.) was called on to pitch out of the bullpen with the bases loaded, nobody out and two runs in during the top of the first. He surrendered a two-run single to third baseman David Kyriacou before retiring the next 13 batters he faced. After his sixth strikeout of the game, KU second baseman James Cosentino doubled and a pair of walks loaded the bases. Kyriacou gave the Jayhawks the lead once again with a two-run, two-out single.
“With it being a three-game series and being down 0-2, not playing great, and there are a million different negative things that can climb into a guy’s head, but you need a guy that can settle everyone down and minimize the damage and he did that and was ready for the moment,” head coach Pete Hughes said of Perez’s effort out of the pen. “When you minimize extra baserunners and damage control, you give yourself a chance to claw your way back and that is what he gave us a chance to do.”
Perez ended up pitching five innings with two runs against him on three hits and one walk. Graduate RHP Vincenzo Aiello (Staten Island, N.Y.) and senior RHP JB Olson (Shady Shores, Texas) each tossed two scoreless innings of relief with two strikeouts. Olson (3-0) got the win and left the potential tying run on base in the ninth.
Right-hander Ryan Zeferjahn lasted 2.1 innings in the start for Kansas. He allowed four runs, three earned, on three hits and five walks. Lefty Blake Weiman (1-1), the seventh of eight KU pitchers used, took the loss in 0.1 innings. He allowed one run and one hit.
The Sooners return to action Tuesday, April 25 against UT Arlington at 6:30 p.m.