The Oklahoma Sooners (34-19, 12-9 Big 12) and the TCU Horned Frogs (36-13, 16-8 Big 12) just played one of the best series in the history of L. Dale Mitchell Park, and the Sooners came out on top. With back-to-back walk-off victories on Saturday and Sunday, Oklahoma has now defeated the top two teams in the Big 12 and put itself in great position for the postseason.
The series began on Friday evening with a back-and-forth 9-6 loss that saw big bullpen struggles. Despite twice erasing two-run deficits, J.B. Olson couldn’t finish the game for OU and gave up four runs in relief.
Saturday started the Sooner Magic. TCU starter Brian Howard was perfect through the first half of the ballgame, as the Sooners couldn’t manage so much as a baserunner. TCU led 4-0 after three innings and looked to be cruising to a series win. But the Sooners put three runs on the board in the sixth, helped by TCU defensive miscues, and chipped away some more with homers from Dom DeRenzo and Brylie Ware in the seventh and eighth.
The bullpen struggled again, however, giving up four runs to match the four allowed by starter Devon Perez. Though the team kept fighting, OU still trailed 8-6 by the bottom of the ninth.
Kyle Mendenhall managed a one-out single, and with two down Jack Flansburg hit a single of his own. That’s when the red-hot Renae Martinez stepped to the plate and blasted a three-run bomb over the left field wall, winning the game and evening the series.
May 13, 2016: @renaem_4 was hitting .128— Oklahoma Baseball (@OU_Baseball) May 13, 2017
May 13, 2017: Hitting .346 and blasts a walk-off HR to beat No. 5 TCU.#HardWork = #YardWork pic.twitter.com/UOjtrM4dKg
On Sunday, everything went OU’s way early. For the first time all series, TCU didn’t score in the first and the Sooners put up four of their own for the early lead. In the third OU tacked on three more, going up by a big 7-0 margin. Two homers from Brylie Ware and one from Austin O’Brien propelled the Sooners to their early advantage.
The good times didn’t last, though. Starter Kyle Tyler lost the strike zone in the fourth, an inning that saw TCU score four times. Soonerkiller Evan Skoug homered in the fifth to make it 8-6 OU before a Josh Watson RBI single cut the deficit to just one.
When Zach Humphreys launched a two-run bomb off Connor Berry the next inning, Oklahoma had officially blown its early seven-run lead.
But the Sooners didn’t lay down. Cade Harris came home to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth, and the bullpen finally clamped down to keep the Horned Frogs off the board for the rest of the game. With yet another chance to walk it off in the bottom of the ninth, Ben Hollas led off with an RBI double to left-center.
Saturday’s hero Martinez bunted pinch runner Kyler Murray to third, and the Frogs elected not to pitch to Steele Walker, putting runners on the corners with one down. That’s when O’Brien lined an 0-1 pitch to left-center, scoring Murray and capping an improbable series win for OU.
SOONERS WIN! SOONERS WIN! O'Brien walks 'em off with an RBI single, scoring Kyler Murray. The second straight walkoff and a series win.— C&C Machine (@CCMachine) May 14, 2017
.@StoneyOB33 starts the day w/ a three-run jack and ends it here to walk-off No. 5 TCU and win the series! pic.twitter.com/h9du7TeFhS— Oklahoma Baseball (@OU_Baseball) May 14, 2017
Not a bad Senior Day for the Sooners.
Next up, Oklahoma will play three neutral-site Bedlam games in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, the last Big 12 series before the conference tourney. The series begins Thursday night in Tulsa, with first pitch at 7:05.