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OU Baseball Opens The Broom Closet Again

By: Dave Myrick

The Oklahoma baseball team slapped the Red Raiders of Texas Tech down in Lubbock this past weekend, not once, but three times. Which OU had not done in Lubbock since 2008, and it was the first time Texas Tech has been swept at Dan-Law since 2011 (TCU). Looking ahead now for Oklahoma (27-17), things look…good. OU has a three game lead in the Big 12 standings, with only six games left. Already the popular projection sites have begun having Oklahoma as a consistent regional host.

Game 1:

I could just write “Braden Davis” and call it a day. Have I mentioned he has been dominant ? Good grief Friday night against a very feisty Red Raider lineup, was a pitching masterclass. In his last four starts, Davis (6-3), who arrived to Norman by way of Sam Houston State, has gone 24.00 innings, with thirty-five strikeouts and a .125 ERA.

Friday in Lubbock Davis went 7.0 strong, fanning eight, scattering a whopping two hits, and no runs. By then Oklahoma’s offense had done more than enough damage.

A Scott Mudler (.271) double opened the scoring in the top of the second plating Kendall Pettis (.253) and Jackson Nicklaus (.343). John Spikerman (.375) beat out an infield single to score Mudler in the fifth, and a Jackson Nicklaus triple in the top of the seventh polished off a very well-rounded night for Oklahoma both pitching, and at the plate on offense. Will Carsten (9.64 ERA) was brought on to finish off the Red Raiders, pitching 2.0 innings, striking out one, while allowing no runs and OU went on to win game one by a final score of 8-0.

Game 2:

Game two saw another very good pitching performance by a Sooners hurler. Starter Kyson Witherspoon (5-3, 4.19 ERA) has been stellar all season long, but as I wrote about last week, some of it has come at the expense of very long innings, not being able to work from out front. If he could do that and take Oklahoma into middle to late innings, they are a very hard out. Well, that is exactly what he did Saturday in west Texas. Witherspoon would pitch 6.2 innings, allowing three runs on four hits, striking out seven. Once again the OU offense got it cranked up right out of the gate.

Easton Carmichael (.353) singled down the left field line, scoring Bryce Madron (.315) in the top of the first inning. Anthony Mackenzie (.310) then singled, knocking in Carmichael to give OU a 2-0 lead headed to the home frame of the first inning. Then OU would get in on the long ball party as Madron and Mackenzie both bashed home runs in the fifth inning. When the smoke cleared, Oklahoma led 6-0. Tech would show signs of life in the sixth and seventh, and in the ninth make things interesting with a home-run that brought the tying run to the plate, but Dylan Crooks (2.59 ERA) and Malachi Witherspoon (4.82 ERA) would do enough down the stretch to close out the final 2.1 innings and OU secured the series in Lubbock 7-5.

Game 3:

Sunday, most thought Oklahoma’s habit of sweeping every series would surely end on a windy day in the desert known as the Texas panhandle, as Texas Tech takes being swept, being swept in Lubbock to be more specific, very serious.

Carson Atwood (3.46 ERA) got the start Sunday, as Jamie Hitt (8.27 ERA), and now Grant Stevens (5.68) has not panned out in that third starter role. Atwood would do very well, minus the walks. He would walk four in 3.1. innings, strike out none, allowing two hits and one earned run. Jamie Hitt continued to struggle as he relieved Atwood in the fourth inning. Hitt would only go one, allowing two runs on two hits, striking out none and walking one. Brendan Girton (5.51 ERA) would then take things over and go one inning, walk two, strike out two and allow a run. Carter Campbell (6.16 ERA) , Dylan Crooks , Ryan Lambert (2.40 ERA) and Malachi Witherspoon would all pitch in this one as the Red Raiders closed to within a run in the bottom of the ninth and had the winning run at second base.

But we had runs before that ! As what has now become the norm for OU baseball, they jumped out. Fast. Mike Snyder (.335) cranked a homer over the wall and into the cacti to give OU a 2-0 lead in the first. The homer, Snyder’s ninth of the season, gave Oklahoma three on the weekend. In the third, John Spikerman got into the act with a beautiful swing and 9-ironed one into the Tech bullpen to make it 4-1 OU through three. Spikes third on the season.

In the sixth, it was Easton Carmichael’s turn as he roped a fastball into the scoreboard to make it 8-4 and give OU some breathing room as Tech had creeped to within two at 6-4 in the bottom of the fifth. It would get tighter.

With OU holding a semi-comfortable three run lead, they went to the bottom of the ninth in game three. A solo shot by 25th year senior, Gavin Kash made it 8-6. After a pitching change, a walk and a double, all with no outs, would make things interesting. Tech would scratch one more across to make it a one run game on an RBI ground-out, but a pop-up and a strikeout gave OU a school record fifth sweep of the season, and an 8-7 final.

Oklahoma head coach Skip Johnson during warm-ups before an NCAA regional championship baseball game against Liberty on Friday, June 3, 2022 in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

Conclusion:

This team is really good. When they do the things they need to do to be really good. I’ll explain.

When the starters take games into the middle/late innings, Oklahoma is really good. When the defense does not make errors, Oklahoma is really good. When the staff doesn’t walk people, Oklahoma is really good. That being said, they have had games where they don’t do any of the above. And that’s okay, this is college baseball.

The trick is, to do it more often than you don’t. Oklahoma has, and is doing so as we speak. They are one starter away, a Sunday starter from being one of the elite, elite teams in the country. And again, they are in a prime spot to possibly host a regional, and that is elite enough. They have to finish strong. I think with whatever happens they are in really good shape to be one of two squads in the Big 12 tournament that earn a bye…but at this point, no doubt the staff and players can smell that Big 12 championship trophy. It no doubt would be a boon as it is the programs last season in the league. And they can win it, if they do the things they need to do.