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Oklahoma Baseball: Sooners Outlast Texas A&M to Open College World Series

The OU offense came to play once again striking for 13 runs to overcome a strong offensive effort from the Aggies.

OMAHA – A strong start to the College World Series for Oklahoma.

After an incredible postseason run that saw them run through the Big 12 tournament, Gainesville Regional and Blacksburg Super Regional, the Sooners began play at the 2022 College World Series on Friday against No. 5 Texas A&M.

Oklahoma’s incredible hot stretch of baseball wouldn’t get cooled off under the bright lights of Omaha, as OU outlasted the Aggies 13-8 to open the weekend at Charles Schwab Field.

"I thought they reacted (to the environment) really well," head coach Skip Johnson said postgame. "It's a lot different than Globe Life (Field), it seemed like it was about 20 degrees different, I'll tell you that right now. But the environment, the adrenaline of the environment, it will take a lot of toe out of you. You gotta really focus on pitch to pitch. That's what we talk about, winning pitches."


As it has been often throughout the Sooners’ meteoric rise in the second half of the season, it was the OU bats carrying the day.

After John Spikerman walked and Peyton Graham singled to open the ballgame, Blake Robertson grounded out to plate Spikerman from third and give Oklahoma an immediate 1-0 edge.

Left-hander Jake Bennett then worked a scoreless bottom half of the inning, paving the way for a top of the second that OU fans may not soon forget.

"Getting that early run, it allows you to settle down and make pitches and let your defense work behind you," Bennett said. 

The Sooners had a monster offensive frame striking for seven runs against Aggie pitching - all of which coming with two outs.

Graham drew a bases loaded walk to get the scoring started before Robertson poked a two-run single up the middle to make it 4-0.

Tanner Tredaway then picked up an RBI knock prior to Jimmy Crooks connecting on the big swing of the inning to cap the scoring off - a three-run rocket to right field to push the advantage to 8-0.

"We just want to attack the game and play with no fear," second baseman Jackson Nicklaus said. "We had a game plan. We wanted to execute early. We did. Jumped on them and it led to our victory."

Texas A&M, though, would respond.

With two outs and nobody on, the Aggies picked up back-to-back singles in front of Jordan Thompson, who hammered a three-run shot to make things suddenly interesting once again at 8-3.

In the third, the Sooners would see some unfortunate luck go against them with designated hitter Brett Squires getting hit with a pitch on the hand. 

The hand injury knocked him out of the game and will sideline him for the remainder of the CWS. 

"I talked to Brett and just told him I was sorry," Johnson said. "He worked really hard. His at-bats got a whole lot better (throughout the season)." 

The score wouldn't remain 8-3 for long after that, as the Oklahoma bats would awaken once again in the fourth. 

Using some small ball, Tredaway and Crooks each reached base after laying down a bunt.

Wallace Clark then drew a walk to load the bases for fellow freshman Nicklaus, who announced his arrival to college baseball’s biggest stage with authority.

The youngster drilled a grand slam over the right field fence to blow the game open and give the Sooners a commanding 12-3 lead.

"I didn't know that it was only the third one ever hit in this park in the College World Series," Nicklaus said. "So that kind of heightened it a little bit (personally), for sure. Going through the at-bat, though, they had that little pitching meeting. And I knew I wasn't going to be late to the fastball."

Texas A&M got one of those runs right back with designated hitter Austin Bost launching a solo shot, but the Aggies were still well behind at 12-4.

The teams traded zeroes in the fifth and sixth innings to send the game into the late frames with OU still well out in front.

Bennett's day was done after six, allowing four runs and five hits with three strikeouts on the day. 

Right-hander David Sandlin entered in relief of Bennett in the seventh, making his first relief appearance of the season after serving as the Saturday starter throughout the year.

He would run into some significant trouble in a role he hadn't yet done this campaign, as he was only able to record one out while allowing four runs. 

Closer Trevin Michael entered to record the final two outs, seemingly stabilizing things a bit and holding the lead still at 12-8. 

After Michael worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth, the Sooners would tack on an insurance run in the ninth with Spikerman lofting an RBI single to center.

"(It) really helped us late to score run to take the momentum back on our side," Johnson said. "I think that's the biggest difference is we gather the momentum and kept the momentum and then gave it away and then got it back."

Michael then shut the door in the bottom half to seal the 13-8 OU victory. 

"Having Trevin as a safety net there, he's what we talk about," Johnson said. "The guy can throw two pitches for strikes, even three at times. He can fill his position and he can hold runners. And he loves that moment. There's sometimes he wills that stuff on himself at times to be really competitive." 

The win improves Oklahoma to 43-22 on the year and moves them into the winner’s bracket on their half of the CWS bracket.

Next up, the Sooners will take on the Texas/Notre Dame winner on Sunday evening at 6 p.m. CT for a spot in the semifinals. 

"At the end of the day, like I said, we're just going to go out there and play baseball," Nicklaus said. "Doesn't matter who we play."

"I'm not going to address anything about (potentially playing) Texas," Michael said. "But I think -- (laughter) -- you can go watch the last out of the Big 12 Championship if you want to know how I feel about that."

Should OU meet the Longhorns, it would be for the fifth time this season with the teams having split the first four meetings.