The Oklahoma Sooners beat the Florida Gators, 5-4, in an elimination game in the Gainesville Regional on Monday. Here are three thoughts on the game.
How Did We Get Here?
Oklahoma had been cruising through the Gainesville Regional, with wins over Liberty (16-3) and Florida (9-4) to set up what could have been a Super-Regional clinching win for the Sooners on Sunday. But, the Gators proved pesky, beating the Sooners, 7-2, on Sunday to set up what was a winner-take-all third meeting in the regional. The game was cruising along through the top of the seventh inning when storms in the Gainesville area delayed the game for several hours, so much so that Florida offered free admission to fans who wanted to come to the game after work. The Sooners’ win allows them to move on to Super Regionals later this week. It will be their first trip to Super Regionals since 2013.
How Did Oklahoma Win it?
The Sooners couldn’t get much offense going in the first seven innings before the rain delay. Oklahoma was held to four hits — two by Tanner Treadway. But the only Sooners’ run through seven innings came from Kendall Pettis, who was hitting in the No. 2 spot and launched a solo home run in the top of the fifth that, temporarily, tied the game.
It was hard to fault Trevin Michael’s start for the Sooners. He threw six innings, giving up six hits, two runs (one earned), along with a walk. He struck out five. There isn’t much more you could have asked for when both starters were in top form.
Once the Sooners and Gators returned to the field, the Sooners got to the Gators’ bullpen with a four-run eighth inning. Peyton Graham hit a two-run home run to tie the score at 3-3. Then the Sooners took a two-run lead after Wallace Clark’s groundout scored Blake Robertson and Jackson Nicklaus’ single scored Treadway.
What Did Florida Do?
The Gators didn’t make it easy in the ninth inning, as Sooners reliever Jake Bennett tried to close it out. Bennett worked around giving up a solo home run to Wyatt Langford in the final frame, but the Sooners were able to hang on.
Before that, the Gators slowly gained control of the game, as they scattered six hits over the first six innings and scored two runs. The first run came in the second, with Jac Caglianone hitting a home run to give the Gators a 1-0 lead. But it was the bottom of the fifth that allowed the Gators to pull ahead at the time.
BT Riopelle sparked the rally with a single to right-center field. An error by Oklahoma’s John Spikerman allowed Colby Halter — who was already on base and moved to second on Riopelle’s hit — to score from second and give the Gators a 2-1 lead. Riopelle moved to second, but the Sooners were able strand him.
Before the rain delay, Gators starter Brandon Neely had put together a fine outing, giving up just four hits and a run while striking out five. He walked none, but the rain delay with two out in the top of the seventh put an end to his day.
Matthew Postins can be found on Twitter @PostinsPostcard