Oklahoma beats Notre Dame at its own game to advance in CWS
Link Jarrett admitted it was like watching Notre Dame-style baseball at its best, Sunday night at Charles Schwab Field.
The problem was the team in question was wearing crimson and cream.
Oklahoma created traffic and chaos on the bases, played elite-level defense and got nine innings of strong pitching from redshirt freshman Cade Horton and two relievers as the Sooners knocked Notre Dame into the losers’ bracket in the College World Series with a 6-2 victory.
“They did a very good job of doing some of the things that you have obviously seen us do,” said Jarrett, the third head coach in school history to bring an Irish team to Omaha. “But the punch-outs to me, that was just the difference. And their management of finishing our hitters was better than ours to them.”
Irish first baseman Carter Putz went 4-for-4, but the rest of the team went a collective 3-of-30 at the plate with 14 strikeouts — 11 of them in the six innings in which Horton threw.
As a result, Notre Dame (41-16) finds itself needing to win three elimination games three days in a row to advance to the College World Series best-of-3 finals, June 25-27. That journey starts Tuesday at 2 p.m. EDT against 5 seed Texas A&M (43-19). ESPN has the telecast.
The Aggies sent long-time rival Texas home with a 10-2 A&M rout earlier in the day on Sunday. Tuesday’s winner will have to beat Oklahoma twice, Wednesday and Thursday, to advance out of Bracket 1 and play the Bracket 2 winner for the national championship.
“We definitely have options,” Jarrett said of his pitching availability Tuesday after using seven hurlers Sunday.
He didn’t touch right-hander Alex Rao or lefty Jack Findlay, his two most reliable bullpen arms, on Sunday, though Findlay was up and throwing in the first inning when starter Austin Temple was struggling with his control.
When it came time to pull Temple in the bottom of the second of a still-scoreless game with two runners on base and one out, Jarrett opted to go with left Aidan Tyrell.
“You get in that spot where Temple clearly didn't appear to have it,” Jarrett said. “Could he have found it? It seemed that was a time not to try to figure that out. We need to have Tyrell involved in this thing. And he got out of it.”
Indeed, Tyrell coaxed a foul pop-up and a groundout to escape the second, but he ran into trouble in the third. Oklahoma All-America shortstop Peyton Graham legged out an infield single, then stole second, moved to third on a groundout and scored on a single by red-hot Tanner Tredaway.
Graham reached base all five times he came to the plate, with four singles and a walk. And he stole two bases. Tredaway was 3-for-4 with a walk, drove in two and scored twice — including the second run of the third inning on a Wallace Clark single.
Leading 2-0, Oklahoma ran itself out of the fourth inning. DH Sabastian Orduno doubled to left past a diving Ryan Cole, but got thrown out at third trying to stretch it into a triple. Then with two outs John Spikerman tried to go from first to third on a Graham single.
Notre Dame right fielder Brooks Coetzee threw to Jack Brannigan in plenty of time to get Spikerman at third. Brannigan, in fact, applied the tag roughly 8 feet from the base, but Spikerman’s momentum caused the ball to pop out.
It then ricocheted off third base coach Clay Van Hook’s area below his belt. Brannigan retrieved the ball and tagged out Spikerman, off the base and unaware that Brannigan lost the ball in the first place.
But the game unraveled for the Irish in the fifth. The Sooners had runners on the corners with one out when Wallace laid down a sacrifice bunt. Putz fielded and threw wildly past first base. Tredaway and Jimmy Crooks both scored, and Wallace ended up at third.
Jackson Nicklaus then singled off Tyrell (5-2) to score Wallace for a 5-0 Sooner lead. That was the end for Tyrell, and effectively Notre Dame the way Horton (5-2) was pitching.
He came into the game with a deceptive 5.58 ERA, but had a 2.25 ERA in his past three starts with a combined 25 strikeouts to five walks. That was after learning how to throw a slider from a teammate, then using it a few days later for the first time in a game — May 29, in a win over Texas in the Big 12 Tournament championship game.
The 6-foot-1, 211-pounder came into the season not having played baseball in two years. His senior season at Norman (Okla.) High was wiped out because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He then missed his freshman season at Oklahoma because of Tommy John surgery.
Early in this season Horton was a starting infielder and part-time pitcher for the Sooners, but their investment in making him a full-time pitcher is paying off now. Against the Irish he threw a career-high 100 pitches, covering six innings.
Horton allowed five hits and a walk with 11 strikeouts, with David LaManna’s third home run of the season — a two-run shot in the sixth — the only real damage against him.
“I thought he did just a phenomenal job,” Jarrett said of Horton. “I thought he mixed very well. And when you have that assortment of pitches to deal with, it's difficult.
“Dave's home run was a big boost for us. We needed it. And Carter had competitive at-bats all day. It just wasn't consistent enough. At the end of the day when you strike out 14 times, you're not forcing them into enough, and they beat us.”
Oklahoma needs one win Wednesday afternoon to advance to the finals. The two-time national champs have a Mulligan in their pocket and will get a do-over Thursday if they lose.
“Notre Dame is a lot like us,” Oklahoma coach Skip Johnson said. “And after watching film and studying through all that deal, you could see it. And we knew it going into it.
“We made some plays and kept it going, got some big two-strike hits, two-out hits. It was really fun to watch.”
COLLEGE WORLD SERIES SCORES, SCHEDULE
Seeds: 2 Stanford, 5 Texas A&M, 9 Texas, 14 Auburn
Unseeded: Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Ole MIss
At Charles Schwab Field; Omaha, Neb.
(All Times EDT)
Friday, June 17
Game 1: Oklahoma 13, Texas A&M 8
Game 2: Notre Dame 7, Texas 3
Sunday, June 19
Game 3: Oklahoma 6, Notre Dame 2
Game 4: Texas A&M 10, Texas 2
Tuesday, June 21
Game 5: Notre Dame vs. Texas A&M, 2 p.m. (ESPN)
Wednesday, June 22
Game 6: Oklahoma vs. Game 5 winner, 2 p.m. (ESPN)
Thursday, June 23 (If necessary)
Game 7: Oklahoma vs. Game 6 winner, TBA (ESPN)
Saturday, June 18
Game 1: Arkansas 17, Stanford 2
Game 2: Ole Miss 5, Auburn 1
Sunday, June 20
Game 3: Arkansas vs. Ole Miss, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 4: Stanford vs. Auburn, 2 p.m. (ESPN)
Tuesday, June 21
Game 5: Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 winner, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Wednesday, June 22
Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Thursday, June 23 (If necessary)
Game 7: Game 3 winner vs. Game 5 winner, TBA (ESPN2)
Saturday, June 25
Game 1: Bracket 1 winner vs. Bracket 2 winner, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Sunday, June 26
Game 2: Bracket 1 winner vs. Bracket 2 winner, 3 p.m. (ESPN)
Monday, June 27 (If necessary)
Game 3: Bracket 1 winner vs. Bracket 2 winner, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
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