Oklahoma baseball: OU clinches another series, one win away from Big 12 title share

North Eugene sophomore Braden Lake races for home ahead of a throw from the outfield during Saturday's Midwestern League baseball doubleheader against Churchill.
North Eugene sophomore Braden Lake races for home ahead of a throw from the outfield during Saturday's Midwestern League baseball doubleheader against Churchill. /

The largely unheralded Oklahoma baseball team has been slowly building toward this with hardly anyone noticing — except for the Sooners themselves, of course.

When Oklahoma takes the field at Rip Griffin Park in Lubbock on Saturday afternoon, they will be one win away from finishing the regular season with a share of the conference championship, something very few would have expected just a month ago.

On April 22, heading into a weekend series at Kansas, the Sooners stood 5-5 in the Big 12, with four of the five losses coming against rivals Texas and Oklahoma State.

With a 9-6 win in Game 2 of the series on Friday, Oklahoma (33-19, 15-8 Big 12) clinched its fifth straight Big 12 series win and sixth of the season and, in so doing, eliminated Texas Tech from title consideration. The Sooners moved into sole possession of second place in the conference, one-half game back of TCU.

Oklahoma pounded out 15 hits along with six home runs, in taking a 13-8 victory in the opening game of the series on Thursday. Right fielder John Spikerman led off the game for the Sooners with a solo home run to left field to give OU a brief 1-0 lead, which Texas Tech quickly erased with three runs in the bottom of the inning off of Sooner starter Jake Bennett.

The Sooners trailed 4-3 entering the fifth inning when a two-run homer by Peyton Graham gave OU a 5-4 advantage. That was followed by four-more OU runs in the sixth fueled by three home runs in the inning by Tanner Tredaway, Jimmy Crooks and Brett Squires. Tredaway and Crooks went yard back-to-back.

Oklahoma added a single run in the eighth and three more in the ninth. Texas Tech pushed across four meaningless runs in the bottom of the ninth, but by that time the game was long over. Bennett went six strong innings, which has been his norm in recent weeks, to pick up his sixth win of the season. He allowed four runs on seven hits and struck out four with one walk.

The Sooners got off to a quick start in Friday night’s game. Blake Robertson knocked in a couple of runs in the opening inning with a home run and the Sooners added one more to jump out in front 3-0. OU scored in every inning through the fifth, with another three-spot in the fifth providing the winning margin.

Tredaway provided the big bat on Friday with a pair of hits and driving in three runs. Wallace Clark, Kendall Pettis and Robertson each had a pair of runs batted in. David Sandlin worked the first five innings, giving up two runs on seven hits along with seven strikeouts. Michael Trevin worked the final two innings to record his eighth save of the season.

Freshman Cade Horton (0-1, 7.53 ERA) gets the call on the mound for Oklahoma in the series finale on Saturday.  Horton will be making his fifth start of the season. Sophomore right-hander Chase Hampton (4-3, 5.04) will get the start for the Red Raiders.

If the Sooners win on Saturday, they will tie TCU, which has finished its Big 12 schedule, with a 16-8 conference record and a share of the Big 12 title.