It’s no secret that Oklahoma has an air of comfortability when it takes the field at Globe Life Stadium in Arlington, Tex.
The Sooners have played in the Texas Rangers’ home ballpark 17 times over the last three seasons, including an unlikely 4-0 run through the Big 12 Tournament last season. But when you combine that with the confidence that the Sooners showed in Wednesday’s opening round win over Oklahoma State, the past has proven that it can lead a team to a special place.
Coming off a 2-1 series loss to the Cowboys last weekend, the Sooners opened up the game with a 7-0 lead midway through the third inning. The reigning Big 12 regular season co-champions fought back to score three more runs in the bottom of the third to cut the Sooners’ lead to four.
Oklahoma closed the door on the the Cowboys with two runs in the top of the seventh to advance to the winner’s side of the bracket with a 9-5 win.
The Sooners’ offense got to work early on Cowboy starter Carson Benge. John Spikerman and Kendall Pettis led off the game with back to back walks and Dakota Harris drove in two runs two batters later on a single up the middle of the field.
Easton Carmichael put the Sooners up 3-0 after the first half inning with a RBI-single up the right side.
The Sooners put pressure on the defense early, and by the third inning, that extra pressure started to turn into Cowboy mistakes. Sebastian Orduno and Wallace Clark were hit by back to back pitches to load the bases and Oklahoma State brought in Drew Blake to replace Benge.
Jackson Nicklaus hit a sacrifice fly ball and John Spikerman single up the middle to extend the Sooners’ lead to 6-0. With runners on second and third, Blake got Pettis to swing at a pitch low in the dirt for a strikeout.
The ball got away from the catcher and Clark scored to push the Sooners’ lead up to seven.
The Sooners got the start they needed from Carson Atwood on the mound. The junior had good control early and retired the first seven batters he faced before giving up a single in the bottom of the third.
The Cowboys were able to turn the momentum back in their favor after that hit. They went on to land a single and a double in their next two at-bats to score their first run of the game and Benge drove in two more on a single down the third base line.
Two innings later, the Sooners’ lead was cut to three when Marcus Brown hit a solo home run over the right field wall.
It was a bit of a gut-check moment for the underdogs. The Sooners couldn’t afford to let a talented Oklahoma State team stick around in the final innings.
Clark once again came up big for the Sooners with a lead-off double in the top of the seventh inning. The Sooners remained aggressive with a bunt attempt by Jackson Nicklaus towards the pitcher, but the throw to first base sailed wide of the first baseman, allowing a runner to score.
They went on to load up the bases and take a five-run lead when Anthony Mackenzie drew a seven-pitch walk.
Of the 12 Sooners that went to the plate on Wednesday, 11 made it on base. They had eight combined with four of those being lead-off hits.
Oklahoma State’s five pitchers combined to walk 13 batters and the Sooners took advantage of two defensive errors.
Last season, a big second-round win over second-seeded Texas Tech and some unexpected upsets on the other side of the bracket put the Sooners in a good position to advance to the title game against fifth-seeded Texas.
In an earlier game on Wednesday, No. 1 seed Texas was upset 6-3 by No. 8 seed Kansas. Now the league’s two highest seeds will be playing with their backs against the wall in elimination games on Thursday.
Oklahoma advances to face the winner of West Virginia and Texas Tech on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPNU.
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