Norman, Okla. Senior Buck Afenir went 2-for-4 with three RBIs, and sophomore T.J. Walz pitched six solid innings as the Kansas University’s baseball team recorded its sixth straight victory and seventh straight over Oklahoma — 9-5 on Saturday at L.Dale Mitchell Park.
The Jayhawks earned their first series victory on the road against a ranked team since 2006 and improved to 33-15 overall and 12-8 in the Big 12. OU, ranked No. 9 nationally, fell to 33-14 overall and 11-9 in conference play.
After a lengthy rain delay, the Jayhawks jumped on the Sooners for a three-run first and never trailed.
Walz battled through six innings, holding the Big 12’s top offense to two runs on five hits with four walks and five strikesouts. The sophomore earned his sixth victory of the season, the most by a Jayhawk since Kodiak Quick won 10 games in 2006.
“T. J. (Walz) didn’t have his best stuff, but I thought he did a great job of grinding it out,” KU coach Ritch Price said. “They (the Sooners) left a lot of runners on base, but at the same time he made a lot of great pitches with guys in scoring position to get out of innings. To get through six innings like that and then turn it over to the bullpen was the key to the win.”
Kansas put the game out of reach late. Following single runs in the sixth and seventh, the Jayhawks scored three times in the eighth to build a six-run lead. With the bases loaded and one out, Robby Price singled on a fly ball, and Oklahoma left fielder Casey Johnson slipped on the wet outfield surface.
Two batters later, Afenir made the Sooners pay with a two-run single up the middle.
KU’s top four hitters, David Narodowski, Price, Brian Heere and Afenir all had two hits, along with Preston Land, who recorded a pair of RBI doubles.
“Those guys have been the key for us all season, and the first three hitters have been outstanding all year long,” Price said. “All three of them have on-base percentages of over .440, and they set the table for (Buck) Afenir and (Tony) Thompson. Buck clutched up big time, and that’s the reason we put the nine runs on the board. It was a great team win in every phase of the game.”
OU loaded the bases in the eighth, but for the second straight game, senior Paul Smyth slammed the door, recording the final two outs of the eighth and three men in the ninth for his eighth save of the season.
The game originally was scheduled to be played as part of a doubleheader at noon. However, heavy rain in the Norman area forced the teams to move play back to 4 p.m. and complete just one game.
KU will look for the series sweep at 1 p.m. today.