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Shriners Classic Baseball Recap

By Dave Myrick and Rives Mitchell

The Oklahoma Sooner baseball team opened up 2024 Friday afternoon in Arlington Texas in the Shriners Children’s classic against the Oregon Ducks. Oregon, coming off a regional appearance last season, has no shortage of talented players. I spoke with ESPNs Mike Rooney the night before, and he said the Ducks would no doubt compete for the PAC championship this season.

Self-inflicted wounds told the story in this one, as OU committed 7 wild pitches/passed balls, 5 walks and hit batter, and Oregon went onto win the season opener 4-2 over Oklahoma. It wasn’t all bad in game one as SHSU transfer Braden Davis showed why he is the Friday night starter for OU, going 5 innings, striking out 7, walking 2 and giving up 1 ER. Likewise Malachi Witherspoon was outstanding going 2 innings, striking out 4 while consistently staying in the mid 90s on his fastball.

Saturday many, including myself, wondered how OU would bounce back against Rooneys pick for national champions, #5 Tennessee. Sophomore transfer Brendan Girton took the bump against one of the best lineups in college baseball and went 4 innings, striking out nine while giving up one earned run. Kyson Witherspoon (Malachi’s twin brother) would take over and be just as dominant. Going 4 and a third, striking out 4, while allowing 0 ER’s. OU needed this level of pitching, because the Vols matched it. OU finally broke through in the 4th on Sophomore Rocco Garza Gongora’s RBI single.

The two teams would remain deadlocked at one after Tennessee answered in the bottom half of the 4th with a solo home run, until the top of the 11th inning when John Spikerman delivered a one out double that brought Jaxon Willits home. OU would tack on 3 more runs to take a 5-1 lead to the bottom of the 11th. Transfer pitcher Ryan Lambert would slam the door shut on the Vols to close out a top 10 victory for OU on Head Coach Skip Johnson’s birthday.

Sunday saw a tired OU club back at Globe Life for warm-ups at 8:30 AM and a 10:30 tilt against Nebraska, after leaving the same field well after midnight the night before, and it showed. OU was sluggish, giving up 2 unearned runs to the Huskers in the first inning. Starting pitcher Jaime Hitt settled in nicely going 5 innings, striking out 10.

The two big reds would trade runs until OU faced a 6-3 deficit in the bottom of the 7th. Junior outfielder John Spikerman led off with a sharp single, and was brought around to score on Junior Bryce Madron’s two run home run. OU used good outings by Jett Lodes (1.2 innings), and Freshman Dylan Crooks to keep the Huskers at bay until the bottom of the 9th. With 2 outs, Washington Husky transfer Michael Snyder laced a single down the left field line that was bobbled, thats all it took for John Spikerman to race home and tie the game. Still with 2 outs, good at bats loaded the bases, for Freshman Jaxon Willits to rope the first pitch he saw back up the middle, walking off OU as Sunday winners.

OU is back in action Tuesday at DBU, first pitch 6:30 CST