The Oklahoma Sooners beat the Texas A&M Aggies, 5-1, in an semifinal game of the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., on Wednesday.
Here are three thoughts on the game and what it means for the Sooners going forward.
David Sandlin Gets His Revenge
When David Sandlin faced the Texas A&M Aggies in relief last week, he gave up four runs. It’s not exactly the ‘feel good’ you want your starter to have in a semifinal game against the same team.
But Sandlin, as they say, ‘flushed’ that relief outing and pitched one of the best games you’ll see in this postseason.
He threw seven innings and gave up one run (on a solo home run to the Aggies’ Dylan Rock in the sixth inning). He set a career high with 12 strikeouts and tied a Big 12 record for most strikeouts by a pitcher in a College World Series game. He gave up five hits and walked one.
Sandlin was sharp from the start, as he struck out the side in the top of the first inning. Nothing disturbed him, even the solo home run by Rock. Sandlin settled down right away. He retired the side in order in the seventh inning, as he left with 100 pitches.
He handed the bullpen an exceptional outing, and he was the biggest reason the Sooners were up 5-1 going into the final two innings.
But He Wasn’t the ONLY Reason
You still have to score runs, and the Sooners did that, though not in the flood they did against the Aggies last week.
But, the Sooners did most of their damage in the first inning, and Sandlin made it stand up.
Against freshman left-hander Ryan Prager, OU slugger Jimmy Crooks dealt the big blow, a three-run home run that scored Peyton Graham and Blake Robertson.
Whlie Sandlin kept the Aggies down, the Sooners added a couple of more runs to build a bigger lead.
Robertson reached first base in the third inning after an inexplicable error on Aggies first baseman Jack Moss, who muffed an easy throw from second baseman Ryan Targac. That scored Graham and made it 4-0.
Then, in the fifth, Tanner Tredaway’s single scored John Spikerman to push the lead to 5-0.
Between Crooks’ home run and Sandlin’s pitching, the Aggies really had no shot.
The Sooners now advance to the best-of-three championship series that starts on Saturday. But Wednesday’s win was critical. The Sooners have two days’ rest before the series opener. Oklahoma hasn’t lost a game yet in this College World Series, which means head coach Skip Johnson can set up his pitching staff accordingly. They’ll play either Ole Miss or Arkansas. The Razorbacks have lost to Ole Miss once. So, if Arkansas beats Ole Miss on Wednesday night, then they would play against on Thursday, and that would provide the Sooners with an opponent that doesn’t have the luxury of two off-days.
Matthew Postins can be found on Twitter @PostinsPostcard