Twenty-nine years ago today it was Oklahoma baseball celebrating a ‘Natty’

Jun 17, 2022; Omaha, NE, USA; General signage before the start of the Men's College World Series at Charles Schwab Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 17, 2022; Omaha, NE, USA; General signage before the start of the Men's College World Series at Charles Schwab Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports /

This week, it was the Oklahoma softball team celebrating another national championship — three times running now. Twenty-nine years ago today, however, Oklahoma baseball hoisted a national championship trophy of its own.

A week ago, the 2023 OU baseball season came to a close when the Sooners were eliminated from the NCAA Charlottesville Regional. So Oklahoma will not be one of the teams returning this season to college baseball’s biggest stage — the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska — where, one year ago, they finished as the national runner-up.

Prior to the 2022 season, Oklahoma had not been to the CWS since 2010, and before that the Sooners last appearance had been in 1994 and 1995.

It was on this date, June 11, 1994, that OU won its most recent national title in baseball and one of just two in program history, defeating Georgia Tech in the championship game.

Oklahoma’s only other national championship in baseball came on the team’s very first trip to the CWS, in 1951. OU came from behind to defeat Tennessee 3-2 and became the first team to win the double-elimination tournament, which was only in its fifth year. The Sooners made it through the CWS gauntlet that season without suffering a loss, going 4-0.

The CWS title in 1951 capped a special year in Sooner sports history. Oklahoma won three national championships that year: in football, wrestling and baseball.

Jack Baer who coached for 26 seasons at Oklahoma, directed the Sooners on their 1951 championship run. Forty-three years later, it was Larry Cochell who coached Oklahoma to its second national crown and CWS title, won on the same field, Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, that produced OU’s first national championship.

The 1994 Sooner baseball team was probably not the best team that made it to the CWS that season, but they played extremely hard and played for each other in the true definition of a team. Interestingly, the team’s motto that season was: “Twenty-five guys pulling on the same rope.”

OU, seeded fourth in the eight-team championship field, slipped by Auburn by one run in its opening-round game in the 1994 CWS and then defeated Arizona State in back-to-back games to advance to the championship series versus No. 2 seed Georgia Tech.

The Georgia Tech lineup featured a couple of players who went on to star-studded careers in Major League Baseball (shortstop Nomar Garciappara and catcher Jason Varitek). The two teams were tied at two runs apiece after three innings, but Oklahoma erupted for five runs in the fourth inning and added four more in the sixth to put the game away.

The game ended in a 13-5 Sooner runaway, with OU pounding out 16 hits and taking advantage of four Georgia Tech errors. Second baseman Ric Guttierez and designated-hitter Damon Minor each drove in three OU runs, Minor’s coming on a three-run home-run blast in the Sooners’ five-run fourth inning. Left-fielder Aric Thomas and right-fielder Darvin Traylor both collected three hits for the Crimson and Cream.

Tim Walton (now head coach of the Florida softball team) pitched two innings in relief of Sooner starter and All-Big Eight performer Kevin Lovingier and was credited with the win, and OU outfielder Chip Glass, who went yard three times in that year’s CWS, including in the championship game, was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 1994 CWS.

In 72 innings in 1994 NCAA postseason play, the Sooners remarkably trailed in only one inning on its way to eight consecutive wins without a loss.