Jackson Nicklaus hit a grand slam, Jake Bennett pitched six strong innings and Oklahoma jumped out over No. 5 seed Texas A&M early in a 13-8 win in Game 1 of the College World Series on Friday.
The Sooners scored seven runs with two outs in the second inning to lead 8-0 and then reversed the Aggies’ comeback bids in the highest-scoring CWS game since 2008.
“We talked about being a Davids team and attacking the giant,” Nicklaus said. “That has been our team’s motto lately. We just want to attack the game and play without fear. We had a game plan. We wanted to run early. We did it.”
The Sooners (43-22), who advanced to Omaha as the regional No. 2 seed, will play game winner Notre Dame-Texas on Friday night on Sunday. Texas A&M (42-19) will play the loser of that game.
Oklahoma won a week after the school’s softball team won its second straight Women’s College World Series championship.
Texas A&M has lost nine straight CWS games in five appearances since beating Kansas in 1993.
“There have been all kinds of different stories in this College World Series for many, many years,” Aggies coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “We can either shrink down and put our tails between our legs and go back to College Station or we can fight. My money is on our guys fighting.”
Aggies starter Nathan Dettmer (5-3) lasted just 1 2/3 innings and led his team down 5-0. He hasn’t gotten past the fifth inning since April and has allowed 30 earned runs in his last 24 2/3 innings (10.95 ERA).
Joseph Menefee replaced Dettmer, and Jimmy Crooks drove his second offer into the right-field bullpen for his eighth home run and an 8-0 lead.
Six Texas A&M pitchers combined to walk 10, hit three batters and strike out 12.
Oklahoma loaded the bases in the fourth with a bunt single, throwing error and walk before Nicklaus’ grand slam made it 12-3.
“I thought we set the table very early, we got the momentum going in the game, early in the game,” Oklahoma coach Skip Johnson said. “It calmed Jake down a bit.”
Bennett (10-3), who allowed five hits and four earned runs, retired nine of the last 10 batters he faced.
The Aggies homered off Jordan Thompson and Austin Bost, and were within four runs in the seventh after three straight RBI singles and a groundout that scored a run.
It was the teams’ first meeting since Texas A&M left the Big 12 after the 2012 season.
KYLER MURRAY AT HOME
Arizona Cardinals quarterback and 2018 Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray was on hand to watch the game between two schools he attended.
Murray spent his freshman football season at Texas A&M, where he started three games before transferring to OU after the 2015 season. He led the Sooners to the college football playoff in 2018.
Murray played outfield for two seasons for the Sooners and was Oakland’s No. 9 overall pick in the 2018 major league draft. Murray spoke with the team in Omaha on Thursday.
“When a former player like him comes back, you know you’ve done something to carve your name into his heart,” Johnson said. “He shows that he cares about us, because we care about him.”
Oklahoma designated hitter Brett Squires broke his left hand when he was hit by a pitch in the third inning and will miss the rest of the CWS.
OU got spooked in the ninth when Chris Cortez’s fastball hit Kendall Pettis in the ribs as he prepared to bunt.
Charles Schwab Field didn’t play like the pitching park it has been since it opened in 2011. Oklahoma and Texas A&M combined for four home runs to tie the stadium record, and the 424 home runs at regionals and super regionals were a Tournament record. the NCAA.
NCAA officials said Thursday that the ball’s specifications have not changed since the flat-seam ball was introduced in 2015. Schlossnagle isn’t so sure.
“The ball has definitely changed,” he said. “I’m not a big conspiracy theory guy, but there are a lot of coaches who think the ball has changed a lot, this season in particular.
“I don’t know enough about the science to say that’s the case or not, but there’s no question, whether it’s older players or a lack of good pitching, the ball is flying everywhere this year.”