NORMAN, OK – It was the home opening series of the year for the #16/#23 Oklahoma Sooners and they welcomed fans back to L Dale Mitchell Park in style with two blowout victories over the Texas Southern Tigers.
Ben Abram started Game 1 going five scoreless innings and was offered plenty of run support with the Sooners tallying 14 runs on the board in a 14-1 victory.
Game 2 was more of the same, as they added 12 more runs in one less inning as the game was called after the eighth frame for a run rule with the Sooners leading 12-1.
Here is a summary of the two games followed by some thoughts and reaction:
Tuesday – Game 1 (Oklahoma 14-1)
The Sooners dominated the Tigers in Game 1 essentially from start to finish.
Texas Southern did get an early threat up, with runners on the corners and just one out in the opening frame. But the big Canadian Ben Abram then forced a 1-6-3 double play to escape the jam. He was superb not allowing a run over his five innings pitched.
“I thought he was good,” Skip Johnson said. “I thought he was a little bit sporadic early, they didn’t chase a lot of breaking balls early which was difficult, but then he just started shoving fastballs in there which was really good to see.”
Then the Oklahoma bats came up and started to tee off.
Tyler Hardman and Justin Mitchell both picked up first inning RBI singles to make it 2-0 OU. Brandon Zaragoza scampered across on a wild pitch in the second to make it 3-0, then in the third Trent Brown smoked a 2-run homer followed by Connor Beichler knocking in an RBI single to make it 6-0 Oklahoma through just the three innings.
They wouldn’t slow down from there, adding two more in the fourth on a Mitchell sacrifice fly and a Peyton Graham RBI knock.
They would make it five for five on innings scored in the fifth, adding three more runs behind a Tanner Tredaway home run, a Hardman RBI double, and a Mitchell single that forced a throwing error to get Hardman across.
Add three more RBI knocks from Mitchell, Vincenzo Bologna, and Kendall Pettis – and the Sooners put up a whopping 14 runs on the board on Tuesday night.
“I thought they came out and played against the ball as good as we’ve ever played since I’ve been here,” Skip Johnson said.
After Ben Abram’s five shutout innings, the bullpen was mostly lock down from there only letting one run scratch across in the ninth inning.
Wednesday – Game 2 (Oklahoma 12-1)
Game 2 followed mostly the same script as the first game with Oklahoma getting an early lead and just building on it from there.
After freshman Jake Bennett struck out the side in his first career inning, Tyler Hardman roped a double over the centerfielder’s head to get OU on the board first at 1-0.
Then in the second, Texas Southern’s poor defensive play reared its ugly head once again. After a wild pitch allowed Kendall Pettis to score, Tanner Treadaway hit a shallow fly to center that was misplayed and allowed Tredaway to pick up two RBI’s and a triple.
The Tigers would get their lone run in the third on an Oscar Ponce RBI single, but the Sooners would get that run back the next inning on a Tredaway sacrifice fly to get the lead back to four runs at 5-1.
Bennett would call it afternoon after four innings allowing just the one run, picking up seven strikeouts along the way in his first career start. Skip Johnson was pleased of Bennett’s performance despite maybe not having his best stuff.
“I think he settled in and really started attacking,” Skip Johnson said of Bennett. “Didn’t have his off-speed pitches like he’s had in intersquad and that’s going to happen when you get out there in the element of the game.”
Brandon Zaragoza and Brady Lindsly picked up RBI hits in the fifth and sixth innings to make it 7-1 Sooners heading into the final third of the game.
After an empty seventh, the Sooner bats would come loose in the eighth to put up five runs and win the game on run-rule. The inning/game was capped off in style on a 2-run home run from Trent Brown that was decimated to left field. That was Brown’s second homer in as many games in the series.
“I don’t really consider myself a power guy. I like to consider myself more just hitting for average, but I sure don’t mind the home runs,” Trent Brown said. “As a whole team I think we’ve done a really good job of seeing the ball and staying aggressive early in counts.”
Thoughts and Reaction
I don’t really know what else Oklahoma could have asked for from these two games against Texas Southern.
They put up 26 runs in not even two complete games, they only allowed the Tigers to score two runs of their own, and they didn’t commit any defensive errors despite the cold and windy conditions.
It was a pretty perfect couple of games for the Sooners in just about every aspect.
Yes, Texas Southern is very bad and this is pretty much what Oklahoma has done to them every time they have come to Norman. But, you have take advantage when you are playing a sub-par team and the Sooners certainly did that this week.
I was especially impressed with Tanner Tredaway, who seemed to just be putting up a quality at-bat after quality at-bat each time he was at the dish. Pair that with his good speed and fielding ability, and he may quietly be one of the most important players on this Oklahoma Sooners team.
Trent Brown was fantastic with the two home runs and Tyler Hardman was smacking balls all over the place but that’s not all that new for him.
There isn’t really any offensive players who didn’t get in on the action somewhere.
Then you have Ben Abram who looked quite sharp in his five scoreless plus Jake Bennett who certainly showed flashes of being a potential stud in this rotation in the years ahead.
Overall there isn’t really anything negative you can take away from what the Sooners did in these two games, so it’s simply just up to them now to build on it and keep it rolling through the weekend.
The Oklahoma Sooners now sit at 4-1 heading into a 4-game home series with Illinois State this weekend that will begin Friday afternoon at 3:00 at L Dale Mitchell Park.