Junior center fielder Ben Hollas (Longview, Texas) delivered a line drive single into right with the bases loaded to plate the game-winning run for the University of Oklahoma baseball team in the bottom of the ninth on Sunday afternoon. Hollas was in a 0-2 hole at the dish before pulling a ball that went off the glove of the right fielder to give the Sooners a 4-3 walk-off victory over Texas in front of 1,260 at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
Oklahoma improved to 14-14-1 overall and 2-4 in the Big 12 as it claimed its first series win over the Longhorns (12-16, 3-3) since 1998. The Sooners have now won back-to-back series over Texas for the first time in program history and three of the last four times.
“We won a series. That was our goal going in, to win the series,” stated head coach Pete Hughes. “It was a great team effort the entire weekend. When you look at a kid like Ben Hollas who hasn’t been playing a lot lately, but he’s never wavered from the team-first mentality in his preparation that puts you in a good position to win a game for your team.”
Tied at 3-3 entering the bottom of the ninth, senior right fielder Alex Wise (Neosho, Mo.) got aboard with a leadoff-, five-pitch walk. He was sacrificed into scoring position on a two-strike, sacrifice-bunt to the right of the mound by freshman shortstop Thomas Hughes (Norman, Okla.), who entered the game as a late-inning defensive replacement. Freshman catcher Domenic DeRenzo (Pittsburgh, Pa.) then popped a ball high over first that got lost in the sun and landed for a double.
Freshman third baseman Cade Harris (Leona, Texas) was then issued an intentional-walk to load the bases with only one out. Hollas, trying to lift a fly ball to the outfield, swung and missed at the first two pitches before taking a ball upstairs. He then came through with the walk-off single for Oklahoma’s second walk-off win of the season.
Junior Sheldon Neuse (Fort Worth, Texas) got the win in 1.2 innings of relief. He entered with two on base and one out in the top of the ninth and got all five batters he faced. Neuse (1-1) struck out a pair and was also responsible for giving the Sooners their first lead of the game at 1-0. In the bottom of the first, he went yard for the fifth time this season with a home run off the scoreboard in left-center.
“He’s awesome,” Hughes stated simply. “He’s as good as it gets. We hit him three hole. We play him short and he closes for us. He plays the most valuable position, gets the hardest three outs—the last three—and hits in the most difficult part of our lineup. That should tell you what we think of him.”
Early in the game, the Longhorns pulled even in the third with a pair of doubles from second baseman Zane Gurwitz and center fielder Tyler Rand. A one-out walk led to Texas taking the lead in the fifth on a Rand single. The Longhorns pushed their lead to 3-1 in the sixth as right fielder Patrick Mathis his a one-out triple into the right field corner and scored on a sacrifice-fly.
Junior right-hander Jake Elliott (Coppell, Texas) has pitched through the fifth before being pulled from the mound for OU. He allowed two runs on five hits and a walk to go with six strikeouts. Senior right-hander Keaton Hernandez (Palm Springs, Calif.) was the first pitcher out of the Sooner bullpen. He surrendered one run on three hits and a walk as he struck out four in 2.1 innings of relief.
Oklahoma tied the game at 3-3 with two runs in the bottom of the sixth. Hollas earned a leadoff-walk and Neuse reached on a two-base error to put both in scoring position with nobody out. Junior second baseman Jack Flansburg (Orange, Calif.) came through with the game-tying hit, a single down the left field line that scored two. Longhorn right-hander Chase Shugart then came in with Flansburg at second and nobody out to get three Sooner hitters and keep the game tied.
Shugart pitched three-hitless frames as he walked two and struck out two. Right-hander Connor Mayes (0-4) took the loss for Texas in 0.1 innings with one run scoring on two hits and two walks.
The Sooners remain at home to face Dallas Baptist on Tuesday night at 6:00 pm.
-Oklahoma claimed its first series win over Texas at home since a sweep in 1998.
-Senior Hunter Haley is the only player in program history to have been a part of three series wins over the Longhorns.
-The Sooners started three or more freshmen for the 17th time in 19 games and the 18th time overall this season. The game was played in front of a season-high crowd of 1,826.
-Sheldon Neuse stretched his reached base streak to 12 games with a first inning-home run.
-Neuse’s home run was his team-leading fifth of the season and 18th of his career. He passed Matt Oberste (2012-13) for most home runs at OU in the BBCOR bat (2011-present) era.
-Neuse homered and got the win. Jacob Evans was the last OU player to do so as he hit a walk-off home run over Kansas (4/2/15).
-Jake Elliott matched his season-high with six strikeouts. Elliott has not recorded a decision in six starts this season.
-Jack Flansburg picked up his team-leading seventh multi-RBI game of the season.
-Eight of the last 12 games between Oklahoma and Texas have been decided by two runs or less.
-The Sooners are 7-2-1 when scoring in the first inning and 8-5-1 when scoring first this season.
-Oklahoma has won on a walk-off hit in each of its last two home series finales. The Sooners walked off Long Beach State (3/13/16) on a Haley home run.
-Domenic DeRenzo posted his second multi-hit game of the season. Seven of his 11 hits have gone for extra bases.
Oklahoma 4, Texas 3 (Apr 03, 2016 at Norman, Okla.)
Texas............... 001 011 000 - 3 8 1 (12-16, 3-3 Big 12)
Oklahoma............ 100 002 001 - 4 7 0 (14-14-1, 2-4 Big 12)
Pitchers: Texas - Johnston; Duke(6); Shugart(6); Mayes(9) and Cantu. Oklahoma - Elliott, Jake; Hernandez, Keaton(6); Neuse, Sheldon(8) and DeRenzo, Domenic.
Win-Neuse, Sheldon(1-1) Loss-Mayes(0-4) T-2:59 A-1260
HR OU - Neuse, Sheldon (5).
Weather: Sunny, 74, SSW 14 MPH
Johnston faced 2 batters in the 6th.
Duke faced 1 batter in the 6th.