Four Home Runs Key Comeback Win

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
MARCH 18, 2017
12 Oklahoma
Kennesaw State

KENNESAW, Ga. – The No. 12 University of Oklahoma baseball team trailed 6-0 early, but four home runs flipped the game into a 17-9 win over Kennesaw State at Stillwell Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Sooners improved to 20-3, while the Owls fell to 8-10.

Oklahoma chipped away with a single tally in the third, fourth and fifth, but KSU got a run back in the fourth as it was 7-3 through five. The Sooners loaded the bases with one out and needed a two-out error at second to bring in a run and keep the inning alive. A walk loaded the bases again and KSU went to the bullpen for a lefty to face OU sophomore left fielder Steele Walker (Prosper, Texas). In the lefty-lefty match-up, Walker blasted a towering grand slam to right on a 3-1 pitch to give the Sooners their first lead of the day at 9-7.

In the bottom half of the sixth, the Owls got the first two batters aboard on a walk and a single to put runners at the corners. A sacrifice-fly made it a one-run game, but sophomore righty Connor Berry (Sugar Land, Texas) came on for the final out and got a strikeout to keep Oklahoma in front. Berry threw 2.1 innings and struck out five without allowing a baserunner to reach against him.

Looking for insurance, the Sooner offense went back to work in the eighth; pouring in five more runs. The big blow came off the bat of sophomore right fielder Blake Brewster (Moore, Okla.), who went deep to right for his second home run of the game. Brewster had gotten the offense going back in the third, down six, with a solo shot to lead off the inning.

Before the day was done, Oklahoma tacked on three more in the ninth and Kennesaw State got one back in the bottom of the ninth to put the game at its final score.

Sophomore right-hander Austin Hansen (Lenexa, Kan.) struggled through a 1.1-inning start. He walked five and gave up three hits; yielding six runs. Sophomore right-hander Ryan Madden (Westminster, Colo.) steadied the effort on the bump with a scoreless third inning. Madden (3-0) did allow a single run in the fourth and sixth, but ultimately tossed 3.2 innings with two runs against him on three hits and to go walks to go with three strikeouts.

Walker finished the day driving in a team-high and career-high five runs on a 3-for-4 effort with three runs scored. Four Sooners posted three-hit games, including Brewster, who went 3-for-4 with two home runs and three RBI. Senior catcher Renae Martinez (San Pedro, Calif.) was 3-for-4 with a home run and three runs and freshman shortstop Brandon Zaragoza (Moore, Okla.) went 3-for-6 with two runs.

KSU righty AJ Moore went five innings in a no-decision. He was tagged for three runs on seven hits and five walks with two strikeouts. Right-hander Brock Turner (1-2) was the hard-luck loser out of the Owls’ bullpen. In just 0.2 innings, he gave up five runs, all unearned, with one walk and two strikeouts.

Offensively, Kennesaw State was led by catcher Griffin Helms with a 3-for-4 afternoon, including a ninth-inning triple. Center fielder Chris Erwin produced for the Owls early with a two-run home run in the first.

Oklahoma and Kennesaw State return to the field for the series finale Sunday at 11 a.m. CT. Junior right-hander Devon Perez (Ashburn, Va.) gets the ball for the Sooners.