NORMAN — Day 1 of the Heartland Classic ended with a heartbreaker for team Oklahoma. Heading into the final inning with Maryland in the first game of the day, Oklahoma looked poised to take the contest into extra innings before Maryland struck with a walk-off single to take down Oklahoma 6-5.
While it didn’t begin according to plan, Day 1 ended exactly the way team Oklahoma would have hoped: With a big win over Ohio to propel the squad into the second day of competition today.
The 15-0 drubbing of Ohio in the second game of the day showed both how prolific the team’s offense can be and just how hard the wind was blowing at Norman North, a park with a tall fence 380 feet away from home plate in centerfield that doesn’t yield many bombs.
But Oklahoma pounded out four home runs as part of a 14-hit day, jumping on top 5-0 in the first with home runs from Hunter Southerland and Jordan Payne. That set the stage for an eight-run third inning that put the game out of reach and featured a two-run shot by Colin Simpson well over that wall in centerfield.
Along with a combined shutout and just four hits allowed from starter Kyle Tyler, who went four innings, and reliever Trent Robertson, it was more than enough to leave coach Shawn Newkirk satisfied with the day’s performance.
“It’s such an honor to be a part of this, and these kids have been great,” said Newkirk, who coaches Tulsa Union’s when he’s not coaching in the Heartland Classic. “We only get one practice to look at their swings and decide on the lineup, but they did a good job today.”
What most impressed Newkirk was the way his team responded to the loss to Maryland in a game that Oklahoma led but couldn’t finish.