NORMAN – For the second time in his career, senior second baseman Kyle Mendenhall (Carlsbad, Calif.) delivered a walk-off hit as the University of Oklahoma baseball team defeated No. 29 Alabama, 2-1, in 11 innings. The Sooners evened their record at 5-5 and ended the Crimson Tide’s unbeaten season in front of 1,380 at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Friday night.
“Kyle gives us some structure and experience at the back end for us and he came through tonight,” began OU head coach Skip Johnson. “It was a good team win for us. Our pitchers came in and did their jobs and a lot of the stuff we’ve worked on showed up today.”
Oklahoma, playing in extra inning for the fourth time just 10 games into its season, got the leadoff man aboard in the bottom of the 11th by way of an Alabama error. Junior Blake Brewster (Moore, Okla.) was sacrificed into scoring position after being called on to pinch-hit. Mendenhall, who blasted a walk-off home run vs. No. 2 Texas Tech last year, was first-pitch swinging and lined a base hit into center to bring Brewster around with the game-winning run.
The Sooners got a brilliant start out of junior right-hander Jake Irvin (Bloomington, Minn.) for the second week in a row. He matched his season-high 11 strikeouts in seven innings of one-run ball. He scattered four hits and walked just two in the no-decision.
Right-hander Sam Finnerty went eight innings for the Crimson Tide (9-1). He allowed one run on eight hits and two walks with two strikeouts. RHP Kyle Cameron (0-1) took the loss in 2.1 innings of work with two strikeouts.
Oklahoma got on the board in the bottom of the first inning and despite recording three hits pushed across just one run on a sacrifice-fly from redshirt-sophomore center fielder Kyler Murray (Allen, Texas). Alabama came back to tie the game, 1-1, in the sixth as a leadoff-walk scored from first on a two-out single by left fielder Keith Holcombe.
Sooner pitchers combined for 17 strikeouts in the game; matching a season-high. The final OU pitcher of the night, junior righty Austin Hansen (Lenexa, Kan.) started the top of the 11th and walked the leadoff man and another with two gone before getting a strikeout to strand a pair. Hansen (1-1) got the win in his only inning of work.
Game two of the series is scheduled for Saturday at 4 p.m. Senior RHP Devon Perez (Ashburn, Va.) gets the ball for the Sooners.