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Oklahoma Baseball: Sooners Roll Virginia Tech, Punch Ticket to College World Series

Thanks to the work of Cade Horton on the mound and Tanner Tredaway at the plate, he Oklahoma Sooners are back in Omaha for the first time in more than a decade.

Oklahoma is Omaha bound.

After dropping the second game of their best-of-three Super Regionals series on Saturday, Oklahoma met No. 4 Virginia Tech in the rubber match on Sunday with a spot in the College World Series on the line.

The Sooners, with their backs against the wall in a winner-take-all scenario, delivered one of their best performances of the entire season, knocking off the Hokies 11-2 at Atlantic Union Bank Park to punch their ticket to Omaha.

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Cade Horton, Tanner Tredaway, Kendall Pettis and Trevin Michael all delivered championship performances to power the Sooners back to the College World Series for the first time since 2010.

Horton got the start in the pivotal matchup and once again delivered in spectacular fashion. The Norman native worked six-plus rock solid innings, allowing just two hits and two earned runs while striking out eight.

Just as he did in the Big 12 title game against Texas and in the regionals against Florida, Horton rose to the occasion. 

"Really, my defense helped me out a lot," Horton said postgame. "Wally (Clark) made a great play at third, Kendall (Pettis) had a diving catch and then hopefully a 'SportsCenter Top 10' catch. And so my plan going in was just to attack and get ahead. And honestly just focus on hitting the target."

That was certainly made a tad easier by Oklahoma getting off to a fast start on Sunday, striking for two runs in the opening frame on a pair of solo home runs.

"With us scoring two runs in the first inning, it settled Cade (Horton) down a little bit," head coach Skip Johnson said. 

"I think he kept them off balance and made some quality execution of pitches."

First it was the Sooners' star shortstop, Peyton Graham, who continued his fantastic season by connecting on his 20th long ball of the year.

Tredaway, the Sooners' senior center fielder, then followed him later in the frame, beginning what would go on to be a monster day for the OU veteran: two home runs, two doubles, three RBIs and three runs scored.

The score remained 2-0 into the third, where the Hokies got right back in it with a two-run blast off the bat of Carson DeMartini, evening the game at 2-2.

But, in arguably the pivotal moment of the game, the Sooners immediately responded in the top of the fourth.

Tredaway jumped OU back in front with another solo home run, to make it 3-2 in favor of Oklahoma.

The Sooners didn’t stop there, as they added two more runs on a Brett Squires RBI single and a sacrifice fly from Kendall Pettis.

OU took a 5-2 lead into the fifth,  where the Sooners bulked up their lead even further.

"I thought our guys settled back down (after VT tied the game)," Johnson said. "Really took it one pitch at a time. Our at-bats got a little bit better. For us to go back out and score the next inning was really big."

Oklahoma put two more on the board with RBI doubles from Blake Robertson and Tredaway to hold a commanding 7-2 advantage.

The Sooners kept on scoring in the sixth and seventh innings, plating a run in each frame on a Pettis solo homer and a Jimmy Crooks RBI single.

Pettis' contributions went well beyond the home run. He also made a spectacular catch in left field — flipping over the foul line fence into the Hokies' bullpen — and later made a running, diving catch in left-center.

"I just try to do whatever I can do (to help)," Pettis said. "I try to do whatever I can do on defense. I know our offense is going to get up and down."

"Like Skip (Johnson) said, I just try to attack the game."

OU held a 9-2 lead heading into the seventh inning stretch.

The Hokies threatened to climb back in it a bit in the bottom of the seventh, with runners on first and second base and only one out.

But left hander Chazz Martinez escaped trouble with a big strikeout followed by a groundout to keep the lead at seven runs.

"We just wanted to be resilient today," Tredaway said. "The biggest thing we talked about before the game started was we wanted to leave everything we had on the field."

The following inning, freshman Jackson Nicklaus got in on the home run party with a solo shot of his own, giving OU a 10-2 lead.  

"Just hitting good pitches," Tredaway on what worked so well for OU offensively. "It's just part of the game. We were just really good at separating balls and strikes today."

Closer Trevin Michael came in with nobody out in the eighth and mowed the Hokies down. After the Sooners manufactured another run across in the top of the ninth, Michael finished the job in the final frame, completing a six-up, six-down appearance out of the bullpen. 

The win improves Oklahoma to 42-22 on the year and advances the Sooners to the College World Series in Omaha for the first time since 2010.

"Dream come true," Tredaway said. "We've all just worked our tail off."

"I just can't be more proud of these guys and all we've put into that's led up to this moment now."

The Sooners will begin play in the CWS against the No. 5 Texas A&M Aggies on Friday. Game time and television designation will be announced in the coming days.