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OU baseball: Sooners fall to Oklahoma State, 10-7, in final home game of regular season

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Brandon Zaragoza

Junior infielder Brandon Zaragoza hits the ball during the game against Oral Roberts on April 2.

With the Bedlam series on the line on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Norman, the Sooners and Cowboys fought and sweat for the right to be the king of Oklahoma.

Runs were traded, leads changed hands, and fans donning both crimson and orange had moments to cheer as two crosstown rivals exchanged surges and blows.

But when the game ended and L. Dale Mitchell Park cleared for the final time in 2019, the Cowboys — wearing their bright orange jerseys — were the ones standing on top. Oklahoma State outlasted Oklahoma , 10-7, to win its third consecutive Bedlam series and pick up its 10th win against the Sooners in the last 11 games.

For the second straight game, head coach Skip Johnson made the decision to call a left-handed pitcher out of the bullpen to face a left-handed slugger for Oklahoma State in the eighth inning. On Saturday night, Colin Simpson took sophomore Levi Prater deep to tie the game at two apiece in the eighth. On Sunday, the result was no different but all the more fatal for Oklahoma. Sophomore Ledgend Smith entered the game and surrendered a three-run shot to OSU’s Bryce Carter, a ringing drive that gave the Cowboys a decisive 9-6 lead on the way to victory.

“The numbers are telling you to do that in this game,” Johnson said about the decision to bring in the lefty. “Credit to Colin (Simpson) for sitting on a breaking ball and running it out of here.”

Carter’s home run capped off a four-run frame for the Cowboys in the eighth and served as the final blow of a heavyweight fight that featured the theme of punch and counterpunch. Just two innings earlier, junior Brandon Zaragoza ripped a two-out, two-run double to give the Sooners a 6-5 lead. Two innings before that, redshirt sophomore Jordan Vujovich hit a solo shot to open the floodgates of a three-run inning that pushed the Oklahoma lead to 4-1.

“I thought our at-bats got a lot better (throughout the weekend),” Johnson said. “With (freshman Milan) Walla coming in there last night to give us some electricity, Brylie (Ware) had a really good weekend, (sophomore Tanner) Tredaway continued to do what he’s done, there were some big offensive days to sustain rallies and do what we need to do.”

But at the end of the day, the attack of Oklahoma State’s veteran sluggers, who laced three more homers on Sunday, proved to be too much for Oklahoma’s young pitching staff once again. The final home game of the season was a tough loss to swallow for the Sooners.

In the final home game of his career as a Sooner, Ware reached base four times and had an RBI to go along with two hits. He said he finally took in the emotion of his senior day when he, surrounded by teammates and coaches, sang the OU chant in front of his home crowd for the last time.

“I was just out there playing baseball today,” Ware said. “I didn’t really think about it until we started singing the OU chant. That’s when it hit me. This is my last time being on this field, singing the OU chant with my team. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Falling to 31-20 on the season and 9-12 in Big 12 play, the Sooners are currently projected to miss the 64-team postseason tournament for the first time since 2016, and do not have many games left to prove their worth to the selection committee. Up next, the Sooners will travel down to Austin for a three-game set against Texas, which will serve as both teams’ final regular season games before the Big 12 tournament May 22-26.

 

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