KENNESAW, Ga. – The No. 12 University of Oklahoma baseball team hit two home runs in a five-run sixth inning in a 5-2 comeback victory over Kennesaw State at Stillwell Baseball Stadium on Friday night. The Sooners improved to 19-3, while the Owls dropped to 8-9.
The game had its share of drama late as the OU bullpen worked itself into and out of trouble in the eighth and ninth innings. Redshirt-junior lefty Austin Kerns (Owasso, Okla.) was the first Sooner reliever out of the pen. He struck out the side in the seventh, but left in the eighth with two runners in scoring position and nobody out. Graduate right-hander Vincenzo Aiello (Staten Island, N.Y.) followed with back-to-back strikeouts and a pop up to strand both runners and keep the Oklahoma lead at three.
In the bottom of the ninth, Aiello got two quick outs before a KSU rally. He walked the number-nine hitter and gave up a single through the left side to bring the potential-tying run to the plate. Owls second baseman Grant Williams hit a hard grounder behind the bag at third. Senior Jack Flansburg (Orange, Calif.) dove toward the line and kept the ball on the infield. Williams raced to first for the infield-single, his third hit of the game, which loaded the bases.
Oklahoma turned to freshman lefty Braidyn Fink (Moore, Okla.) to face KSU left-handed right fielder Taylor Allum, who has seven home runs on the season. Fink got a called strike three to end the game and secure his first career save.
Senior center fielder Ben Hollas (Longview, Texas) was the only OU hitter to figure out Kennesaw righty Tony Dibrell the first two times through the order. The Sooner nine-hole hitter, Hollas doubled in the third for the first Oklahoma hit of the night. His next time up, Hollas ripped a leadoff home run to right to cut the KSU lead to 2-1.
At the top of the order, freshman shortstop Brandon Zaragoza (Moore, Okla.) singled through the left side, was sacrificed into scoring position and came home with the tying run on a groundball to third that was thrown into right. Senior catcher Renae Martinez (San Pedro, Calif.) later came up with two on and two out in the inning. He took the first pitch deep to center for his second home run of the year; giving the Sooners a 5-2 lead.
Sophomore right-hander Jake Irvin (Bloomington, Minn.) got the win to move to a perfect 5-0 in five starts for OU. He threw a season-high 105 pitches in six innings. Irvin allowed two runs, one earned, on six hits and two walks with six strikeouts.
The Owls threatened against Irvin in the first, but the Oklahoma ace got out of the inning with a double play. Leadoff singles then came around to score against him in both the second and third innings. Irvin pitched his only perfect frame in the fifth.
Kennesaw righty Tony Dibrell (1-2) worked eight inning with eight strikeouts. The Hollas home run was the only earned run he allowed in the sixth. Dibrell surrendered just five hits and two walks, while sitting down eight OU hitters in a row between Hollas’ double and home run.
The Sooners are back on the field against Kennesaw State tomorrow at 1 p.m. CT. Sophomore right-hander Austin Hansen (Lenexa, Kan.) toes the rubber for Oklahoma.