Things did not look good for Oklahoma when Oklahoma State scored four runs in the second inning Tuesday.
But the Sooners responded with three runs in the bottom of the frame to keep it close, and their two runs in the bottom of the ninth were enough to defeat the Cowboys at ONEOK Field in Tulsa.
The win not only avenged their previous loss to Oklahoma State in Tulsa back in 2020, when the Cowboys scored four runs in the fourth inning to win 7-3, it also showed the Sooners’ growth this season.
“Two weeks ago, we probably would’ve lost that game,” OU coach Skip Johnson said Thursday.
With that win, the Sooners (15-8, 2-1 Big 12) find themselves with real momentum.
After losing 2-of-3 games in their home series against New Orleans, the Sooners bounced back by winning 2-of-3 against Baylor to open conference play last weekend. Though the win against the Cowboys was a non-conference game, the Sooners have now won three of their past four games, all coming against conference opponents.
“That was one of the big games we’re going to be playing this whole year,” OU redshirt sophomore Jimmy Crooks said. “Momentum is a big thing for us. Winning that Baylor series and going to beat OSU on Tuesday, it was awesome. I think it shows that we have a lot of fight in us. We’re not going to give in. We’re just going to do our thing and battle back. “
It’s been the offense that has led the Sooners this far. They’re fourth in the conference in batting average (.287) and third in on-base percentage (.408). Three of the Sooners’ players – Jackson Nicklaus, Diego Muniz and Crooks – rank in the top 20 in batting average.
Defensively, Jake Bennett has been one of the best pitchers in the conference. He ranks first in earned run average (1.45) and he’s thrown 40 strikeouts this season.
“I think he’s going to continue to grow as he goes through,” Johnson said. “More confident, trusting his preparation, he’s been good… He’s going to be a good professional because he believes in what he does.”
One area the Sooners can improve is fielding, where they rank eighth in the conference. While Johnson has been proud of his performance, his focus has been on defense.
“I think we can grow defensively,” Johnson said. “The biggest thing for me is their attitude. Attitude plays such a big part in what we do day in and day out. To me, they have an attitude. They go out and play. We’ve really done a lot of things offensively to help the pitching, and I think we’ve got to grow defensively. “
The hope for Johnson is the fate momentum will carry them through their third trip to Arlington, Texas this season.
The Sooners will meet Texas for a three-game series at Globe Life Field this weekend. The game was originally scheduled to be played in Norman before it was moved to Arlington to replace the Texas Rangers’ series with the New York Yankees.
Globe Life Field has been a friendly venue for the Sooners’ this season, as they’ve won four of the games they’ve played there this season. They’ll hope to find more success against their Red River rival this weekend.
“[We’re going] to have to make plays, ”Johnson said. “Those guys are good. There’s no doubt about that. We’ve just got to try to disrupt their timing as much as possible. They do a good job. They’re older. I think we’re really going to have to stick with the plan we’ve put forth and not waver from it. “
The series begins at 6:30 pm today.
• Injury report: Johnson said injured players Kendall Pettis and Brett Squires are progressing well.
“Kendall can run bases, he can’t hit yet,” Johnson said. “Brett’s been released to pitch two Tuesdays in a row.”
Neither player has played since March 15 due to injury.
• Cade Horton on the mound: The Norman Native pitched his first collegiate inning against the Cowboys, striking out one batter while surrendering zero hits.
Johnson has been cautious about putting Horton on the mound after he missed all of last season with an elbow injury. But Johnson indicated Horton could be a big part of their pitching lineup moving forward.