Nathan Wiles almost went the distance.
When the junior right-hander was finally pulled after surrendering a leadoff single to start the bottom of the ninth, he walked off the field — head coach Skip Johnson following right behind — to high fives and firm "solid job" handshakes from his teammates. The first complete game of the season for Wiles and the Sooners was not to be, but the 4-2 victory in game one of the Red River Rivalry series in Austin, Texas, was secured in just three pitches by junior closer Jason Ruffcorn.
The win guarantees the Sooners a spot in the upcoming Big 12 tournament and has the Longhorns needing wins in the final two games and a Kansas sweep over Kansas State to have any season left beyond this weekend.
Wiles held the Longhorns scoreless through five innings and would last all the way through the eighth despite surrendering a pair of runs in the sixth. The Overland Park, Kansas, native had his longest outing of the season and picked up his eighth win to tie West Virginia’s Nick Snyder atop the Big 12 leaderboard.
The first of four runs on the night came just three batters into the ballgame. After sophomore Tanner Tredaway reached on a one-out error by Texas shortstop Masen Hibbeler, senior Brylie Ware doubled to right-center field to give the Oklahoma bats the start they needed. A run in the second — marking the first time since March 9 that Oklahoma scored in each of the first two innings — and a pair of runs in the sixth would be all the Sooners needed to get the win. The Oklahoma offense only had six hits on the night, but earned five walks and took advantage of a pair of Texas balks and errors to put runners in scoring position.
The Sooners can perhaps breathe somewhat easier in doubleheader on Friday, May 17, knowing they have already clinched a spot in the conference tournament, but need to keep winning in order to re-establish themselves on the inside of the NCAA tournament bubble. For now, the focus is on game two, which has been moved up to 1 p.m. on Friday to make room for the series finale in the evening. Sophomore Levi Prater (6-4, 2.93 ERA) is expected to get the nod for Oklahoma against Texas right-hander Blair Henley (6-3, 3.36 ERA).