On This Day: Sooners Claim 1994 College World Series Crown in Omaha
Today is June 11, which means it's time to take a look back at Oklahoma's memorable College World Series run in 1994.
It's been 26 years to the day since Larry Cochell's Sooners lambasted Georgia Tech 13-5 to claim the second national title in program history and first since 1951. The win put a final flourish on a dominant postseason run that saw the Sooners roll virtually unchallenged through regionals and CWS play.
In Cochell's fourth year as head coach, Oklahoma finished conference play with a 21-9 mark behind All-American second baseman Rick Gutierrez. However, it was Oklahoma State that claimed the Big Eight title, as the Pokes went 21-6 in-conference and took four of six matchups with the Sooners.
Oklahoma landed in the Central regional, which took them into enemy territory. The Texas Longhorns had just claimed the Southwest Conference title, and had split a two-game set with the Sooners earlier in the year. Now, they welcomed Cochell's bunch back to Disch-Falk Field with the stakes raised.
That's when OU caught fire.
The Sooners throttled Arkansas State 10-3 in their first game of the regional, then knocked off Stanford 10-4. Spurred by the bats of Gutierrez, Darvin Traylor, and Chip Glass, Oklahoma continued their furious offensive onslaught with a 15-4 romp over the Longhorns in Game 1 of the championship series. A day later, the Sooners eliminated their detested rivals with a 6-3 victory, and just like that, they were Omaha-bound.
Oklahoma rolled into Omaha with a pitching-first mentality - after all, the Sooners boasted future MLB arms in Mark Redman, Russ Ortiz and Steve Connelly, plus All-Big Eight first-teamers Bucky Buckles and Kevin Lovingier. Despite OU's ensemble cast of stars, few genuinely expected Cochell's upstart team to make noise. All eyes were on top-seeded Miami, as well a strong Cal State-Fullerton team that many viewed as a sleeper.
However, both the Hurricanes and Titans would see their stays in Omaha cut short. Eighth-seeded Arizona State upset Miami 4-0, and Fullerton fell to Georgia Tech 2-0. Meanwhile, Oklahoma eked out a 5-4 win over Auburn and a 4-3 triumph over Arizona State. Days later, the semifinal pitted the Sooners against the Sun Devils in a grudge match.
With ASU gunning for revenge, the Sooners turned to Redman, the Big Eight Newcomer of the Year. And in the biggest moment of his young career, the sophomore southpaw delivered, scattering seven hits and one run in a complete-game victory. On the strength of his gem, Oklahoma prevailed 6-1 to advance to the national championship game.
An explosive Georgia Tech team awaited the Sooners in the finale. Future pros Nomar Garciaparra, Jay Payton and Jason Varitek spearheaded the charge for the Yellow Jackets. However, their bats proved no match for Oklahoma's offensive firepower.
The Sooners unloaded on starter Al Gogolin and all comers from the Georgia Tech bullpen. Damon Minor blew the game open with a three-run homer in the sixth inning, and eventual series MVP Chip Glass followed with a solo shot of his own.
Buckles came on in the sixth and carried Oklahoma to the finish line, eventually inducing a weak groundout from Varitek to cap a 13-5 victory. The Sooners were national champions, having posted an 8-0 record across regionals and the College World Series. Over those eight games, they trailed for only a single inning.
It remains the Sooners' most recent CWS title, and they wouldn't make it back to Rosenblatt Stadium again until 2010. Nevertheless, the glory of that magical 1994 season shines on, and perhaps it won't be too much longer before Skip Johnson's Sooner squad returns to the Greatest Show on Dirt.
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