NORMAN – For the second time in as many games, the No. 24 University of Oklahoma baseball team walked-off No. 5 TCU, winning 10-9 to take the series in front of 1,370 at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Sunday afternoon. With the game tied 9-9 in the bottom of the ninth, senior first baseman Austin O'Brien (Owasso, Okla.) delivered a one-out single to left center to plate the game-winning run that claimed the series. The Sooners improved to 34-18 overall and 12-9 in the Big 12, while the Horned Frogs' shot at a league title was delayed yet again as they fell to 36-13 and 16-8.
“JB [Olson] comes in and throws shutouts, makes big pitches, gives a chance to win the game late,” opened head coach Pete Hughes. “Leadoff- double for Ben Hollas, Renae Martinez gets the sacrifice-bunt down; perfectly executed. I know they're going to walk Steele [Walker]. I know Stoney's going to have the game on his shoulders. Stoney delivers. You can't script it any better. I'm so happy for those guys.”
O'Brien led the Sooner bats on an explosive day at the plate. He went 3-for-5 from with five RBI and a three-run home run. With the wind blowing out stiffly to left, the Sooner offense outhit TCU's high-powered offense 12-9 in a game that saw five fly balls leave the yard.
“You can't script it any better,” stated O'Brien. “It's been an unbelievable pleasure and dream of mine since I was little to play baseball for this school. The best four years of my life and I'm just thankful for the opportunity.”
Senior right-handed pitcher JB Olson (Shady Shores, Texas) earned the win, improving to 5-1 on the year, after throwing two innings of no-hit ball to shut down to the Frogs in the eighth and ninth. It was his third appearance of the series and 18th career outing of two-plus scoreless-innings.
The game got off to a rapid start for the Sooners, who held a 7-0 after the third. O'Brien hit a three-run jack in the first to get the game going and sophomore third baseman Brylie Ware (Sedgwick, Kan.) followed a pitch later with a solo shot.
Oklahoma's bats came alive again in the third inning. Sophomore center fielder Steele Walker (Prosper, Texas) doubled off the center field wall to set the table for O'Brien, who picked up his fourth RBI of the day when he singled through the left side. Ware, who had a great day in the field as well, then launched a towering shot to left to plate O'Brien and log his first career multi-home-run game, giving OU a 7-0 lead. Ware now has five home runs on the year, all of which have come in the last seven games.
The win would not come easy for the Sooners as they were pushed every step of the way by TCU, which scored all nine of its runs in the middle innings. The Horned Frogs took a brief lead in the sixth on a two-run home run by DH Zach Humphreys.
“I keep saying it, they're resilient,” Hughes said of his team. “But blow a seven-run lead? I'm not that resilient. That's how good TCU is. Even under-manned offensively, they wipe away a seven-run lead, they take the lead 9-8. That's how good our opponent was. But, in saying that, that's how good our win was, too, because our guys never got down and never lived in the past innings. No one was happy we lost a seven-run lead, but they figured out a way to get it done.”
Ware and senior right fielder Ben Hollas were key at the plate for OU as well. Hollas went 3-for-5 with a pair of RBI and also doubled in the ninth to set up the walk-off run as redshirt-freshman Kyler Murray (Allen, Texas) would enter as a pinch-runner and score from third. Ware logged a career day with three hits on four at-bats, including a pair of home runs, a double and three RBI.
“I'm just so proud of these guys,” added O'Brien. “I've got to give a lot of credit to TCU. They're well-coached and they put up a dog fight all weekend. I love this team. Renae was the hero yesterday and today he's getting the bunt down; gave me an opportunity to drive the guy in. That's what this team is all about; is just helping each other out and picking each other up and I'm just super proud of everyone.”
Ahead of Humphreys' sixth-inning home run, the Horned Frogs cut the Sooner lead to just three with four runs in the top of the fourth. TCU capitalized on three walks and hit a batter to plate a pair of runs before first baseman Michael Landestoy singled to left with two outs and the bases loaded to score another pair and seize momentum.
After the Sooners added an eighth run in the bottom half of the fourth on a RBI single from Hollas, TCU kept chipping away with three runs in the top of the fifth. The Frogs got a two-run homer from catcher Evan Skoug, who leads the league in home runs with 14 on the year, then plated another run after a trio of two-out singles from the bottom of their order.
The game saw its first tie when the Sooners added a run in the bottom of the sixth to quickly erase TCU's 9-8 lead. Sophomore left fielder Cade Harris (Leona, Texas) doubled to right and then advanced to third on a balk to set the table for a RBI-groundout from Hollas that knotted the game, 9-9.
The seventh and eighth innings went uncharacteristically scoreless and OU blanked the Frogs in the top of the ninth to set the stage for O'Brien's heroics. Hollas led off the inning with a double to left center, then senior catcher Renae Martinez (San Pedro, Calif.), Saturday's walk-off hero, moved Murray to third with a sacrifice-bunt. An intentional walk to Walker brought O'Brien to the plate for his fateful at-bat. TCU reliever Sean Wymer (4-3) took the loss for the Frogs.
Sophomore right-hander Kyle Tyler (Oklahoma City) lasted four-plus innings in the start as he was lifted after facing one batter in the fifth. He allowed five runs on three hits and four walks with three strikeouts. RHP Mitchell Traver pitched just 2.1 innings for the Horned Frogs and surrendered six runs on five hits and two walks to go with three strikeouts.
The Sooners are back in action as the home team in the Bedlam Series beginning Thursday, May 18 at 7:05 p.m. at Tulsa's ONEOK Field.