The race was on between sophomore Tanner Tredaway and the baseball.
With two outs and runners on first and second in the bottom of the 10th, sophomore Justin Mitchell laced a sharp grounder on the ground to left-center field and Tredaway — who stood on second — chugged around third base with his eyes set on the plate. Tredaway slipped rounding third and, as a result, was about 15 feet from home plate when the ball sailed to Oklahoma State catcher Bryce Carter on the bounce. Fortunately for Tredaway and the Sooners, the ball ricocheted off the shin guard of Carter and skipped into the air, allowing Tredaway to score the winning run.
Head coach Skip Johnson harps on playing against the baseball, and this time around, the ball happened to bounce Oklahoma’s way. The play finalized a 3-2 win for the Sooners, a win that evens up the Bedlam series, erases a four game losing streak and puts Oklahoma in position to possibly win the series against its crosstown rivals on Sunday in Norman.
“That moment was huge for our confidence,” Mitchell said. “We’ve seen our confidence go up and down all year and with this win hopefully it’s putting us in the right direction of where we need to go.”
Just half an inning earlier, with the game tied at two apiece, the same ball was shot off the bat of Oklahoma State’s Colin Simpson and had "home run" written all over it. The ball carried, and carried and carried, until it finally fell into the glove of freshman Milan Walla in centerfield to end the top of the 10th. Simpson already had a pair of home runs on the weekend, too, including a solo shot that tied the game at two apiece in the top of the eighth.
Even Tredaway and junior Brady Lindsly, who stood on base when Mitchell stepped to the dish in the home half of the 10th, were fortunate to reach base. Leading off the frame, Tredaway reached on an error on what looked to be a fairly routine play and Lindsly took a fastball off the shin to take his free base. Oklahoma had runners on first and second with nobody out but almost squandered its opportunity, as sophomore Tyler Hardman and senior Brylie Ware both followed with strikeouts before Mitchell stepped to the dish with the Sooners 1-for-12 on the night with runners in scoring position.
“It’s a game of imperfection, really,” Johnson said. “You have to put the pressure on that team to (make those mistakes) and that’s what they did and it’s about the details that are in that execution. Tredaway put it in play and the guy kicked the ball and Lindsly got hit and here we go.”
Despite its wild finish, the early innings of the Saturday night contest in Oklahoma City was dominated by the team’s pitchers. For the Sooners, sophomore Cade Cavalli was only given a pitch count of around 60 for his first start back from an elbow injury but held Oklahoma State hitless through his three innings on work. Freshman Jaret Godman followed Cavalli and responded to a solo home run in his first inning of work with four straight innings in which he allowed just one hit and struck out seven.
Godman was finally pulled with two outs in the eighth, as Johnson was looking to pit his best left-hander — sophomore Levi Prater — against the Cowboys’ left-handed slugger Colin Simpson. Simpson won the battle, however, drilling a solo shot to tie the game at two apiece.
The Sooners found a way to win in extras, though, and are set to play the finale of the Bedlam series on Sunday in front of their home crowd in the final game of the regular season at L. Dale Mitchell Park. Prater is the expected starter, according to Johnson, even though he faced a pair of batters in Saturday's game. The opponent on the other side is well-known to Johnson and company, but the Sooners are mainly concerned about playing against the baseball.
“If we play against the baseball,” Johnson said, “if we throw to the mitt, if we do a better job of taking care of the baseball, if we have better quality at-bats then we’ll be on top. If we don’t then we won’t.”