HOUSTON, TX – The Oklahoma Sooners baseball team went into the highly anticipated Shriners Hospital for Children College Classic this weekend knowing they had an opportunity to make a statement on a national stage.
Consider that statement made…loudly.
The Sooners picked up two wins over Top-15 SEC foes at Minute Maid Park, and capped off the weekend with a huge bang on Sunday as history was made by the arm of Dane Acker.
As usual, here is a recap of the weekend’s action followed by some thoughts and reaction:
Friday – Oklahoma def. Arkansas 6-3
The Sooners opened their weekend against the highest ranked team of the group of six in the #6/#9 Arkansas Razorbacks.
Oklahoma struck first scoring a run by way of a sacrifice fly from Trent Brown to bring Brady Harlan across home plate in the second inning.
The Sooners would then tack on another in the third on an RBI groundout from Brady Lindsly that brought Tanner Tredaway around to score after he had doubled earlier in the inning.
Cade Cavalli was mostly cruising through four frames when he ran into trouble against the Razorbacks offense in the fifth, serving up back-to-back home runs to put Arkansas in the lead 3-2.
Brady Lindsly would answer back with a homer of his own in the sixth, though, to knot the game back up at 3-3.
The seventh inning would prove to be the crucial moment in the game, as the Sooners would post three runs on the board to give them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Brandon Zaragoza, who had had a rough start to the year, came through with an RBI single to get the first run. Tyler Hardman then picked up an RBI knock of his own later in the inning to score another – with Zaragoza scampering across home plate on a throwing error.
Jason Ruffcorn picked up the save and the Sooners opened their weekend with a big win over the Razorbacks.
Saturday – Missouri def. Oklahoma 8-7
Ironically, the game that was thought to be the most surefire Oklahoma win of the weekend winded up being the team’s only loss.
Oklahoma got off to a hot start, snagging two first inning runs on a Tanner Tredaway double to go up 2-0.
A run in on a balk in the fourth, a Peyton Graham solo homer in the fifth, and sacrifice fly from Zaragoza would get OU all the way out to a 5-0 lead with Levi Prater spinning an apparent gem with four no-hit innings.
The fifth inning would have things flip on Prater quickly. The left-hander would allow four runs, three of which coming on a big fly, and Missouri closed the gap down to just one at 5-4.
The Sooners would get two of those runs back immediately on a Kendall Pettis 2-run homer to make it 7-4, but that still wouldn’t be enough to stave off the Tigers.
Missouri’s Thomas Broyles would get himself a 2-run double in the seventh to cut it to 7-6, and Luke Mann would pick up and RBI knock in the eighth to tie it up at 7-7.
After both teams went scoreless in the ninth, Missouri would walk it off in the bottom of the tenth on a double by Peter Zimmerman into right field to bring across the winning run.
Sunday – Oklahoma def. LSU 1-0
Oklahoma went into Sunday having picked up one fantastic win and one pretty brutal loss. The success of the weekend really came down to how they would fare against the #11/#14 LSU Tigers.
Dane Acker took the mound making his third start in a Sooners uniform, looking to bounce back from giving up five runs in a loss to Illinois State last weekend.
Well, I would say he bounced back.
Acker was absolutely phenomenal, carving up the LSU Tigers all game long at a rate that will go down in OU history forever.
Acker and LSU’s AJ Labas were dueling no-hitters (!) through seven complete innings when Justin Mitchell came through in the hugest of ways with a solo home run to left field to get Oklahoma on the board and in front 1-0.
Finally with a lead, Acker knew he was just six outs away from the first OU no-no since 1989.
In the eighth, he sat down the Tigers in order on a pop out to second base, a strike out swinging, and then a line out to shortstop.
In the ninth, Acker opened things with a 3-2 fast ball painting the inside edge for a strikeout looking. LSU 3B Zack Mathis would then give a ball a ride to right center but Tanner Tredaway was able to get back on it for the second out.
He would then complete his no-hitter on a ball hit decently well but right to the very sure-handed shortstop Brandon Zaragoza, who fielded it perfectly to get the out and complete Acker’s historic performance.
Thoughts and Reaction
Obviously this weekend was super impressive from Oklahoma and they should be thrilled to have picked up wins over both Arkansas and LSU.
Its a little disappointing to not beat Missouri, especially considering the 5-0 lead, but that gets largely forgiven with the two huge wins.
We have talked about it before, but it is really amazing what Skip Johnson has managed to have with this starting rotation. This team has a serious chance to make this a special year because these starters are going to give them a chance to win every game and series that they play.
For the team to go into this early test, against big time teams in a big time venue, and perform the way they did I think says something.
I was already pretty high on what the Sooners’ chances were for a deep run this year and this certainly just makes it more so in my eyes.
Now, I will say that while the two wins are fantastic – today could have very easily been the other end of the spectrum.
The fact that Acker was working on a no-hitter sort of distracted from the fact that OU was also being no-hit for the large majority of the game.
It could have very easily been LSU who ran into a ball and gotten it out of the park to win 1-0 and then all of a sudden the weekend feels very different.
But, considering the strong offensive outputs against Arkansas and Missouri, the bats still had a good weekend overall.
The main takeaway from the weekend has to be overwhelmingly positive as the Sooners just picked up two huge wins and appear to be playing with a lot of confidence right now.
The Oklahoma Sooners now sit at 9-3 and will head back to Norman for a 5-game homestand, starting with a couple of midweek games against Dallas Baptist on Tuesday and Arkansas Pine-Bluff on Wednesday.