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Sooners Shine in Arlington

The Oklahoma baseball team started its season at the Shriners Children’s College Showdown, going 2-1 on the weekend. Let’s talk about it.

In the first game of three, the Sooners had to make a comeback from an early deficit. The Oregon Ducks scored in both the first inning and third, but OU scored two runs in the bottom half of the third inning. With John Spikerman and Bryce Madron both on base, a pair of sacrifice-fly RBIs from Easton Carmichael and Kendall Pettis knotted the score at two. Sophomore transfer Braden Davis got the ball on opening day for the Sooners, and he did his job. He threw five innings, allowing two runs on three hits, and had a career-high in strikeouts with seven. There was no offense for either squad until the eighth inning. The Ducks scored two after a sloppy defensive half-inning for the Sooners. Sophomore Malachi Witherspoon came on in relief of Davis, and went two innings, allowing two runs on two hits, surrendered three walks, and struck out four batters. Both senior relievers Carson Atwood and Carter Campbell got into the game against the Ducks, both throwing one inning and allowing one hit each. The Sooners lost to the Ducks 4-2.

John Spikerman and head coach Skip Johnson during the game against California Baptist University.

In the second game of the tournament Oklahoma got its first win of the season against the top-10 ranked Tennessee Volunteers, and it was a thriller. This game had a little bit of everything, including Tennessee turning a triple play. Both teams were held scoreless through three innings, before each team scored one run in the fourth. The game remained scoreless, and there was free baseball being played in Texas. The bats came alive in extra innings for the Sooners. An RBI double from Spikerman broke the 1-1 game, and both Carmichael and Rocco Garza-Gongora hit RBI singles to put the game away. The OU pitching staff was spectacular in this game. They held the Volunteers to one run on seven hits, and had a combined total of 15 strikeouts. The Sooners won 5-1 in 10 innings.

In the tournament finale for the Sooners, more late-game heroics were needed. The Sooners got down early against Nebraska after allowing two runs to cross the plate in the first inning. OU got on the board in the third inning after a Nebraska throwing error that allowed Jason Walk to score. Nebraska scored three runs in the top of the fifth, and the Sooners scored two in the bottom half of the inning courtesy of an RBI single from Garza-Gongora, and a wild pitch that allowed Madron to score. The Huskers would add another run in the top of the sixth, but that would be the last that OU pitching would allow. The Sooners scored two in the seventh inning, and needed a ninth-inning rally to attempt to make the comeback against Nebraska. In the ninth with OU down to its last strike, Michael Snyder hit a double to left to tie the game. Following the game-tying hit, Garza-Gongora was intentionally walked, and Kendall Pettis got plunked. Jaxon Willits hit a single right back up the middle to plate Snyder and win the game for the Sooners. A great start for Willits and his OU career. OU beat Nebraska 7-6.

It was an eventful three games for the Sooners, and answered a lot of questions coming into the season. One of the biggest takeaways from this tournament was the pitching. The Sooner’s pitching staff was fantastic this weekend. They struck out a whopping 41 batters. 41. That is an insane amount for a three-game tournament. The starters pitched well all things considered, and the bullpen had swing-and-miss stuff for all three games. OU used nine relievers and gave Sooner fans plenty to look forward to this season.

The offense got off to a slow start, but started to get the bats going as the tournament went on. Bryce Madron had a home run in the third game against Nebraska and looked like he is ready to provide some pop in the Sooners lineup. Easton Carmichael is a name to watch for this season offensively. He hit .538 in the three tournament games and was tattooing the ball. He had a pair of 3-5 games against Nebraska and Tennessee. He has a chance to play a very big role in what the Sooners do this season at the plate.

Next up for OU is a road matchup with Dallas Baptist on Tuesday, with the first pitch scheduled for 6:00 p.m.

Images courtesy of Ray Bahner/OU Daily and Reghan Kyle/OU Daily

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