by Matt Meyer (@bluto51)
For the 10th time in 12 tries, Oklahoma State won the Big 12 Conference Bedlam baseball series over Oklahoma, winning on Thursday and Saturday with OU taking the middle game of the weekend in Norman. OSU also beat OU in a non conference game back on April 18th, as the Cowboys have outscored the Sooners 43-16 in four games this season. The Pokes clinched a share of the Big 12 Championship and remain in play to host an NCAA regional in Stillwater in two weeks, while Oklahoma has work to do in this week’s Big 12 Tournament to solidify their spot in the NCAA Tournament.
OSU won Thursday’s opener 13-2. Game was broken open in the top of the third. Cowboys led 3-0 and after a HPB and 2 walks, Colin Brueggemann hit a grand slam to essentially put the game out of reach. Brueggemann would add another HR and the Pokes took advantage of 9 walks, 5 HPB, and 2 errors to run away with game one. Three other Cowboys had a pair of hits and Tyler Wulfert scored 3 times to lead OSU’s offense. Nolan McLean got the start on Thursday night, and while he didn’t go long into the game, he threw 3 solid innings of 1 run ball, allowing 4 hits, 4 walks, and striking out 5. Evan O’Toole was terrific out of the Cowboys’ pen, tossing 5 scoreless innings. After a promising start at Gonzaga a week ago, Sooner starter Braxton Douthit struggled, allowing 10 runs, 8 earned, in 3 plus innings.
Oklahoma evened the series on Friday 5-0 behind a complete game shutout by Braden Carmichael. Pitching for the last time at L. Dale Mitchell Park and throwing to his younger brother Easton, the Sooner lefty scattered 4 hits and 1 HBP, but Carmichael didn’t walk anyone or allow anyone to cross home. Easton Carmichael laced a 2 run double down the left field line in the bottom of the fourth to give OU all the runs they’d need. Sooners added 2 in the 5th and 1 in the 7th to pull away.
The Cowboys’ bats came back to life on Saturday as OSU took the series with an 11-1 win. Former Sooner Ben Abram had a day to remember as he picked up the win in his return to Norman, throwing 5 innings of 1 run ball. Isaac Stebens and Gabe Davis kept Oklahoma off the board the rest of the day. Pokes got 3 hit days from Chase Adkison and Nolan Schuabrt, with Schubart driving in 5 and hitting a 7th inning HR that landed somewhere in Shawnee. With the win and Texas’ sweep of West Virginia, the Cowboys won a share of their first regular season conference championship since 2014.
The Bedlam rivals will see each other again on Wednesday in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament at Globe Life Field in Arlington, TX. Second seeded OSU takes on 7th seeded OU in the third game of the day with first pitch scheduled for 4:00 PM. Cowboys enter the postseason 37-16 and co champions of the Big 12 with a 15-9 conference record and an RPI of 20. Regional hosts are announced on Sunday before the Big 12 Tournament Championship game is concluded…don’t get me started on how dumb that is. OSU is in contention to host a regional and if the Pokes could pick up a few wins in Arlington, it could make the difference between hosting or not. Sharing the Big 12 regular season crown and a solid run in the tournament would make a pretty good case to the committee. OSU got a big boost from McLean and Abram in last weekend’s starting rotation. That’s the key to the Cowboys’ postseason. The offense is dynamite. Stebens is fantastic at the back end and the rest of the bullpen is solid. OSU is good defensively with Marcus Brown standing out at SS and Adkison keeping opponents’ running games in check. If Juaron Watts-Brown can find his form and McLean, Abram, and Carson Benge can provide good starting pitching, Oklahoma State has every chance to make it to the College World Series.
Oklahoma heads to Arlington at 30-24 with a 7th place finish in the Big 12 at 11-13, and an RPI of 36. The Sooners have to make some noise in Arlington if they want to be playing the following week. The RPI and 12 Quad 1 wins are strengths on the resume, while the conference finish and overall record are weaknesses. Sooners are a decent team but nothing more. Outside of Carmichael, the starting pitching is inconsistent. Will Carsten and Carter Campbell can be hot and cold out of the pen. The offense can put up runs, but OU scored only 8 in three games last weekend against Oklahoma State. When this team plays their best, they’re capable of beating very good teams, as 12 Quad 1 wins, including a sweep of Texas, two wins over Stanford, and a win over West Virginia and OSU would indicate. When OU isn’t playing well, they’re capable of dropping series to Quad 4 teams California Baptist and Baylor. Biggest key for this team is the pitching staff. Sooners have to stop allowing opposing offenses free passes. The Sooners’ offense, while not possessing a great deal of power, has been the problem far fewer times than the pitching has this season.
Highly encourage you to get to Arlington this weekend. My family and I went last year and Globe Life is a palace of a park, plus Texas Live next door has anything you could want to eat and several entertainment options. While I wish the Big 12 Tournament was still in Oklahoma City, there’s nothing bad at all about it being in Arlington. Bedlam on Wednesday at 4:00 in a game that’s probably bigger for the Sooners than the Cowboys as OU still has work to do to make the NCAA Tournament. OSU is in the NCAA Tourney and the more the Cowboys win this weekend, the greater the chance they’ll play some of those tourney games at O’Brate Stadium.