The Oklahoma Sooners looked uninspired in Wednesday’s loss the the Baylor Bears, but the team was able to pull out a pretty huge win against the Texas Longhorns on Thursday morning. What makes it so impressive is the fact that OU was able to earn a win over the top seed in the Big 12 Tournament without some of its best players. Oklahoma improved to 35-22 on the season with the 3-1 win.
Steele Walker — Oklahoma’s most dangerous bat — has been out this week with a hip injury. Things got even worse on the top of the first when Kyler Murray exited the game after appearing to suffer an injury while stealing a base. Murray’s injury doesn’t appear to a huge deal, but OU was forced to fight for its Big 12 Tourney life without two of the conference’s best players. Luckily, OU received solid performances from some unlikely sources. Blake Brewster and Dom DeRenzo were left to pick up the slack in the field and in the batting order, and boy, did they ever. Each player contributed an RBI and made some acrobatic plays in the outfield, and Oklahoma couldn’t have pulled off a W against the Horns without them.
Nathan Wiles got the start and did a solid job through 4.0 innings, allowing one earned run and striking out four batters in a five-hit performance. Levi Prater (3-3) came in with two on in the fifth and was credited with the win after getting his team out of a major jam. Texas starter Nolan Kingham earned the loss and dropped to 7-3 on the season.
After an inauspicious start to Wednesday’s game, the Sooners kicked things off with a run on two hits in the top of the first. Cade Harris led off with a single to right, advanced on a Zaragoza grounder and made it home on a Kyler Murray single down the line in left.
Blake Brewster – who was batting .129 entering the game -- added to the lead in the top of the third with an opposite-field solo homer to left.
Oklahoma struck once again in the top of the fifth, as Brendan Zaragoza and Dom DeRenzo turned back-to-back doubles into another run for the Sooners.
Second two-bagger of the year for Dom DeRenzo. And it was a big one. pic.twitter.com/c0vyce0fsu— Oklahoma Baseball (@OU_Baseball) May 24, 2018
Texas got on the board in the bottom of the fifth, but it could have been much worse for the Sooners. After Levi Prater entered with two on and nobody out, the Longhorns loaded the bases with a bunt single. However, Prater was able to get a double-play ball on the next at-bat and got Kody Clemons swinging to leave the score at 3-1.
While warming up before the sixth, Oklahoma suffered yet another injury when Prater had to the game after an inning pitched, forcing Cade Cavalli to move to the mound from first base.
From that point forward, Cavalli, Braidyn Fink and Austin Hanson carried OU home and earned some huge outs. Cavalli pitched 2.0 shutout innings before Fink replaced him to face Big 12 Player of the Year Cody Clemons. Fink did his job by getting a swinging K and exited the game, paving the way for a great closing performance for Austin Hansen. Hansen ended up pitching 1.2 clean innings and earning his seventh save of the season.
This team looked like it had lost its way, but a gutsy performance such as this will hopefully be a turning point for this group. They’ll face the loser of Baylor-Kansas on Friday at 3:15 p.m. CT.
Texas, of course, is going home.