The Sooners took the Longhorns’ postseason hopes and demolished them in games one and two of the Red River Rivalry series, setting up a series finale — just hours after a 13-0 beatdown — that would not change Texas’ inevitable postseason fate nor the result of the series.
But the Longhorns did anything but quit. Rather, they scored five runs in the first three innings on the way to a 6-4 victory to cap off their season.
“Well, they got a good team, they’ve had a good team all year long,” head coach Skip Johnson said. “It’s the difference in confidence and maintaining confidence and you can’t look at it any different that…It says a lot about their program and they’ll continue to always be good. Texas is going to be Texas.”
Nonetheless, Oklahoma picked up its third conference series victory of the season and did more than enough to secure a spot in the Big 12 tournament from May 22-26 in Oklahoma City.
Here are three stats from the weekend:
In game one of Friday’s doubleheader, Oklahoma scored in each of the first five innings for the first time all season. In game two of the doubleheader, the Sooners allowed a run in each of the first four innings for the first time all season.
Early offense was a theme for the victorious team in each of the three games. On Thursday night, the Sooners were up 2-0 by the middle of the second inning, scoring their first run of the night on a Brylie Ware double three batters into the ballgame. The Sooners then scored in each of the first five innings on the way to a 13-0 victory in game two of the series and Texas scored all six of its runs in the first four frames en route to a win in the series finale.
Ware, the team’s best hitter according to Johnson, had eight hits, six runs scored, three RBIs and a pair of home runs in the series.
“(Early offense) was huge, it helps the pitcher because he doesn’t have to go out and try and throw a zero,” Johnson said. “That was big for us, really big. And when we score early like that it’s really good for our pitching staff because they don’t feel like they have to be perfect and it’s a big difference.”
Junior Nathan Wiles tossed a season-high eight innings on Thursday. He and sophomore Levi Prater combined for 14 innings pitched, 15 strikeouts and just a pair of earned runs.
Nathan Wiles was just three outs away from finishing the first complete game by an Oklahoma starting pitcher all season. A leadoff single to start the ninth inning immediately led to a call to the bullpen by Skip Johnson, a call that ultimately paid off, as junior closer Jason Ruffcorn retired the final three outs of the game in just three pitches.
Wiles lasted eight strong innings — his longest outing of the season — and blanked the Longhorns through the first five innings, as Oklahoma built and carried a 2-0 lead. Even after surrendering a pair of runs in the sixth, the right-hander made some big pitches to hold Texas in check in his final two innings on the way to earning his eighth win of the season to take a share of the Big 12 lead in that category.
Levi Prater held the Longhorns to just three hits over six scoreless innings, despite battling sickness in the days leading up to his outing, Johnson said.
“We give them three or four runs and that could be the ballgame,” Ware said. “When they’re out there and they’re on, we know they know how to pitch and they’re going out there and being competitive and just executing.”
The Sooners’ 13-0 run-rule victory was OU’s largest margin of victory over Texas in the history of the rivalry.
Levi Prater did not need anything close to his best performance to earn his seventh victory on Friday afternoon. An early flurry of runs, combined with shutdown pitching from Prater had the Sooners up 9-0 by the middle of the fourth.
The game ended after the seventh inning by way of a run-rule, giving the Sooners their largest margin of victory over Texas ever. The second-largest margin came in 1994, when Oklahoma defeated Texas by 11 runs (15-4).
The loss in the series finale gives the Sooners a losing record in conference (11-13). Oklahoma will either be seeded sixth or seventh in the Big 12 tournament, depending on the result of the series between Kansas State and Kansas. If the Jayhawks — who won game one of the series in a 10-0 shutout — sweep the Wildcats, they will finish conference play with a 12-12 record and move ahead of Oklahoma in the standings.