Another weekend, another series win for the Oklahoma Sooners.
Fresh off their two midweek blowout wins over Dallas Baptist and Arkansas Pine-Bluff, OU came into this home series against San Diego State playing with a lot of confidence and momentum.
Give credit to the Aztecs, they were game for this challenge and this was an extremely competitive series from the very beginning.
As per usual, here is a series recap followed by some thoughts and reaction:
Friday – Game 1 (San Diego State 5-4)
Game 1 of the series was mostly defined by Oklahoma’s inability to get the big hit when they needed it, while the Aztecs capitalized on their early opportunity to jump on OU ace Cade Cavalli.
After Tanner Tredaway hit a solo home run in the first inning to get Oklahoma out in front 1-0, San Diego State would put up a four-spot in the second behind two 2-RBI singles from Mike Jarvis and Casey Schmitt.
It was fairly evident that Cavalli didn’t have his best stuff, but after the four-run second he mostly settled down and still managed to give Skip Johnson seven hard fought innings.
“The admiral thing that he did was settle back in and just start pitching, ” Skip Johnson. “He learned a lot tonight.”
Tyler Hardman would get a solo home run of this own in the fifth, but SDSU would get that run back in the seventh on an another RBI knock from Casey Schmitt.
Cavalli’s day would end after seven innings, allowing five earned runs.
“I wouldn’t do a whole lot different, I’m not too worried about it,” Cavalli said. “It happens, it’s really how you respond to it and I went out and put up zeroes for the team (after the 4-run second) and competed my butt off and that’s all I can do.”
Oklahoma would go to the bottom of the ninth down 5-2, but wouldn’t go down without a fight.
Brady Lindsly would hit a 2-Run homer to suddenly make it a one-run game with just one away, but the Aztecs were able to retire the next two batters and win the game 5-4 to take to the series opener.
Game 2 – Saturday (Oklahoma 8-4)
The Sooner bats would continue the long ball trend into Saturday, with freshman Peyton Graham going deep twice in OU’s bounce back win.
Graham led off the second with his first dinger to put OU up 1-0, then hit a 2-out solo shot in the fourth to break a 1-1 tie and get the Sooners back in the lead by a run.
OU would tack on three more runs in the fifth behind hits from Brandon Zaragoza and Brady Lindsly to get them out to a fairly commanding 5-1 advantage with the sensational Levi Prater on the bump.
In the sixth, Justin Mitchell hit a solo homer of his own followed later by a Logan Kohler RBI single to make it 7-1 Oklahoma.
Prater would call it a day after seven really good innings, allowing just one run and five hits while recording a whopping 13 strikeouts.
Add in an RBI knock from Brady Harlan to make it 8-1 and OU had a big lead going into the final inning.
SDSU would battle back a bit, scoring three runs in the ninth, but OU would hold on for the 8-4 win to even the series.
Game 3 – Sunday (Oklahoma 9-8 F/10)
The rubber match of the series was probably the wackiest game of the season for OU to date, with the game needing an extra inning to determine a winner.
OU got off to a fast start, scoring three runs in the first inning behind RBI hits from Peyton Graham and fellow freshman Connor Beichler.
After SDSU worked a run in the second, OU would add three more runs in the second and third to make it 6-1 Oklahoma through three frames.
Dane Acker, making his first start since his no-hitter against LSU, never was really able to find too much of a groove on Sunday, as after allowing another run in the fourth and two more in the fifth, he was yanked before being able to record even five full innings.
“Acker was fighting through it the whole time with command things,” Skip Johnson said.
Despite Acker’s rocky outing, OU still took a pretty comfortable 7-4 lead into the sixth inning – but the Aztecs would continue to claw back.
After working one run off Ben Abram in the sixth, SDSU would strike for three in the eighth off the normally sure-handed Wyatt Olds.
But, the Sooners kept calm and were able to respond in the bottom half to tie the game on a Carter LaValley chopper to second base that was launched into the dugout – allowing the tying run to come across for OU.
“We’re never going to give up, we’ll fight and do our thing and stick to our process every single game and every single AB,” Jason Ruffcorn said.
After both teams went scorless in the ninth, the game headed to the tenth under unusual circumstances.
Due to NCAA travel rules for visiting teams on Sundays, no inning was allowed to start after 5:00 local time in Norman, which surely meant the tenth would be the final inning of the day – tie game or not.
Jason Ruffcorn would toss a second 1-2-3 inning in the top half, meaning the Sooner bats came to the dish knowing they could not lose the game on Sunday.
Peyton Graham led the game off with an infield single and then stole second to get himself into scoring position.
Then, later in the inning, Brady Harlan hit a grounder to second base that was once again thrown away toward first which allowed Graham to come around and score the winning run.
San Diego State committed five errors on Sunday, Oklahoma committed none. That was the difference in a very nip and tuck game/series.
“We talk a lot about putting the ball on the ground, that helps a lot in these conditions,” Connor Beichler said. “They kept the ball in the air…if we don’t have to make a lot of throws when it’s like this and rainy that helps.”
Thoughts and Reaction
This was a hard fought, grind it out type of series that Oklahoma is fortunate to have found a way to win.
They didn’t play their best on Friday, having multiple missed opportunities with guys on base and coming up empty. The fact they were able to hit the long ball on Friday was only thing that kept them in it late, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the missed chances.
Saturday was obviously better with the team putting eight runs on the board, and Levi Prater was absolutely fantastic.
Sunday would really highlighted how strong this team is defensively, because it was really terrible conditions with an intense wind along with some rain that came along in the later innings.
The Aztecs committed five errors on Sunday while OU played a clean game, that was a massive part of what helped OU win that game.
Overall I think the team should be fairly pleased to have won a series against a quality opponent when they really didn’t play their best.
This team is not going have many series where both Cade Cavalli and Dane Acker get knocked around a bit and have starts that are beneath the standards that they have set.
Despite that, they managed to take the series against a San Diego State team that certainly has the makings of a tournament team.
So, how the team played throughout the weekend probably isn’t what the team is going to want throughout the season. BUT, to still win the series against a good team is extremely encouraging.
The mark of a great team is being able to win games even when you aren’t at your best – and that is how I would mostly classify this weekend for Oklahoma.
The Sooners will now go back on the road for five games, starting with a Tuesday night matchup against UT Arlington.