Jun. 12—Oklahoma missed its first chance to clinch a College World Series berth Saturday after surrendering a season high five home runs to Virginia Tech, forcing an elimination game.
Sunday, it was the Sooners' turn.
It started with Peyton Graham's lead-off solo home run in the top of the first inning, his 20th of the season. Tanner Tredaway followed it up with a home run of his own to give the Sooners an early 2-0 lead.
By the end of the game, the Sooners had hit five home runs of their own to beat Virginia Tech 11-2 and win the NCAA Blacksburg Super Regional, securing a trip to the CWS in Omaha, Nebraska, for the first time since 2010.
It was Tredaway that led the effort at the plate. After the Hokies responded with a two-run home run to tie the game in the third inning, Tredaway responded with another home run to left field to give the Sooners a lead they never relinquished.
For the redshirt senior — who went 4-for 5 with three RBIs and three runs — it was about playing with a sense or urgency.
"I just told myself, 'This is my senior year. This could be our last game,'" Tredaway said. "... I just wanted to make some magic happen."
The Sooners' offense continued to swing away, adding two more runs after Tredaway's second home run to round out the third. They scored at least one run in every inning the rest of the way, with Kendall Pettis and Jackson Nicklaus hitting solo home runs in the sixth and eighth innings, respectively.
Eight different players recorded a hit, with Jimmy Crooks adding three of his own.
"We were just hitting good pitches," Tredaway said. "We were really good at separating balls from strikes today. We just had a lot of confidence."
While the Sooners' offense had it going, the defense was just as dominant.
Norman native Cade Horton got the start on the mound. Outside of surrendering a two-run home run in the third inning, Horton kept the Hokies offense at bay, recording eight strikeouts and surrendering just two hits in six innings.
"My defense helped me out a lot," Horton said. "... So my plan going in was to just attack and get ahead and just focus on hitting the target. That's all you can control."
One play the defense helped Horton came from Pettis, who managed to track down a fly ball in left field and catch it before flipping over the left field fence. Pettis, who's become a key player for the Sooners in recent weeks, added two RBIs and a home run offensively.
"I feel like this group, only we believed it. A lot of people outside of us didn't believe we could do this. But the whole time, no matter in the fall or the spring, we knew we had a chance," Pettis said. "... It's a dream come true. It's something as a kid, growing up and watching baseball, you visualize yourself [going to Omaha.]"
The win is the Sooners' 11th in 13 games and their seventh consecutive series win.
For OU coach Skip Johnson, the win is a testament to the resiliency the team has showed all season.
"I'm really proud of these kids how they came together and how they pick each other up," Johnson said. "... I can't say much more than I'm proud of them. I'm glad it's about them, it's not about me. It's about the university and the players and the institution they play for."
The College World Series is scheduled for June 17-27. The full bracket will be released Sunday night.
Jesse Crittenden is the sports editor of The Transcript and covers OU athletics. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 405-366-3580