Baseball Wins First Big 12 Regular Season Title

Sunday, 12 May 2024 14:23

Baseball Wins First Big 12 Regular Season Title

Written by OU Athletic Communications News Release
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Baseball Wins First Big 12 Regular Season Title soonersports.com

NORMAN — For the first time in program history, Oklahoma is Big 12 baseball regular season champions. 

With OU's series sweep of Baylor, the Sooners clinched at least a share of the 2024 regular season conference crown.  

The Sooners (32-17, 21-6) left no doubt on the weekend, outscoring Baylor 47-15 in three games, including a  doubleheader sweep Saturday, capped by a 19-7 run-rule win in the finale.

"The accomplishment belongs to the players," said OU head coach Skip Johnson. "You play one pitch at a time, that's our mantra. We play one pitch at a time and one game at a time and that's what we have to continue to do. That's what we will continue to talk about, continue to work on and continue to practice."

The title is the program's first conference crown in the Big 12 era and 23rd conference title overall. OU's last conference championship came in the Big Eight in 1995.

The team can win the title outright with one win in their final Big 12 series next weekend at Cincinnati or an Oklahoma State loss in one of their final four games.

GAME TWO (OU 9, BU 1)

OU starting RHP Kyson Witherspoon earned his sixth win of the season, settling in to throw seven innings and surrendering just one run on six hits with four walks and three strikeouts. 

The OU offense came to life in the late innings, scoring nine unanswered runs from the fifth through eighth innings after Baylor (21-29, 9-18) took a 1-0 lead at the top of the first. 

The Sooners manufactured runs throughout, plating two in the fifth on a Baylor balk and RBI single from senior Bryce Madron.

To the sixth, OU put up another three runs on three hits. An RBI single from senior Kendall Pettis started the flurry, later followed by a fielder's choice from freshman Jaxon Willits that allowed junior Jackson Nicklaus to race home. An RBI single from junior John Spikerman closed the sixth to put OU up 5-1. 

After a scoreless seventh, OU pushed across four on three hits in the eighth. A walk to Pettis and singles from junior Scott Mudler and Willits set up Spikerman to launch OU's first grand slam since 2022. The junior centerfielder sent his third home run of the season and first grand slam of his career deep to right field to bring Game 2's final to 9-1. 

Spikerman paced OU with a 2-for-4, one home run and five RBI performance. 

On the mound, Witherspoon (W, 6-3) went seven full before senior Carter Campbell closed the game with two scoreless innings, allowing one hit. 

GAME THREE (OU 19, BU 7 [7])

After the program honored its nine outgoing seniors prior to the series finale, the teams met for the second game of Saturday's doubleheader. 

Baylor took an early lead again, scoring a pair at the top of the first. OU got one run back in the home half on a sac-fly before the Bears scored three at the top of the second. 

The Sooners would finish the game on an 18-2 run, with a trio of six-run innings, starting in the bottom of the second. 

Three RBI doubles courtesy Spikerman, Carmichael and senior Michael Snyder scored four. A bases-loaded walk and Baylor balk tallied the other two runs in the frame, allowing the Sooners to take command of the game.

Baylor scored their final runs of the game and series in the fourth via sac-fly and single. OU quickly responded with its second six-run inning in the home half. 

A bunt single followed by a BU error pushed the first run across before a sac-fly RBI from Willits scored one. The Sooners loaded the bases for Madron and the senior outfielder delivered, ripping a ball up the alley in right and racing around the bases for an electric inside-the-park grand slam. It was OU's second grand slam in as many games after entering Saturday with none in the last two seasons. 

A pair of run-scoring triples from Spikerman and Carmichael and a passed ball in the fifth pushed the Sooners to run-rule territory after five. 

A scoreless sixth and top of the seventh gave OU the run-rule victory and the Sooners 21st win in conference play, tying a program record for conference wins and surpassing the most victories for a Sooner team in Big 12 era (20, 2000).

Four Sooners recorded multi-hit games in the finale, led by Spikerman's 4-for-5 showing with four RBIs. On the day, the junior combined to go 6-for-9 with nine RBIs and three extra-base hits. Carmichael batted in five runs for the second straight day, going 3-for-5 with two extra-base knocks, while Madron plated four on his inside-the-park grand slam. 

On the mound, OU utilized four pitchers in Game 3, with senior Carson Atwood (W, 1-0) earning his first win of the season and fifth of his career, striking out a pair in 2.2 scoreless innings. Fellow seniors James Hitt (1.0 IP) and Grant Stevens (2.1) saw action, along with junior Dylan Crooks (1.0). Stevens and Crooks each fanned one. 

Oklahoma enters its final week of the regular season, playing four games in Cincinnati next week. OU meets Xavier Tuesday night before a three-game conference set at Cincinnati. 

For updates and more information on Oklahoma baseball, follow the Sooners on Twitter and Instagram (@OU_Baseball) and like Oklahoma Baseball on Facebook.

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