OSU powers its way to series-clinching victory

Nick Rutledge | CNHI Sports OklahomaOklahoma designated hitter Brady Lindsly beats the tag at second base for a double during Sunday’s game against Oklahoma State at L. Dale Mitchell Baseball Park in Norman.

NORMAN — Oklahoma coach Skip Johnson said it Saturday, and his sentiment was similar a day later.

Sometimes you have to tip your cap to someone.

Oklahoma State earned every bit of its series-clinching 10-6 victory over Oklahoma on Sunday, as its home run barrage continued into the Bedlam finale at L. Dale Mitchell Park.

With OU leading 6-5, Johnson made a pitching change in the eighth inning to get a left-on-left matchup — just as he’d done in an OU victory in Oklahoma City the night before — but the result was the same.

The ball left the park.

Bryce Carter, a Tulsa product who transferred in from Stanford, hit a three-run home run that broke a 6-6 tie and gave the Cowboys the lead for good. They hit three homers Sunday and finished with nine in the three-game series.

“I mean, yeah [they deserve credit]. They’re older hitters,” Johnson said. “When you have a guy that’s a fifth-year senior that played at a school that was really high level at Stanford … He came off, sat on a breaking ball and hit a breaking ball out. Maybe their bats are different than ours, I don’t know. Who knows. They’re stronger, more physical, older.”

Johnson wouldn’t let his own team off the hook, though it finished with nine hits and stuck with the Cowboys as long as possible. OU senior third baseman Brylie Ware threw a ball past home plate earlier in the eighth inning that tied the game and shifted momentum OSU’s way.

It was the schools’ first conference game against each other in Norman since April 25, 1992, and they didn’t disappoint. The back-and-forth Bedlam contest featured two ties and two lead changes.

The Sooners controlled the game early on, putting up three runs in the third inning starting with Jordan Vujovich’s leadoff solo home run, the junior-college transfer’s first Division I homer.

Ware (2 for 3, RBI) drove in a run and another scored on Justin Mitchell’s pop-up to center field, when OSU second baseman Hueston Morrill lost the ball in the sunlight to make it 4-1 OU in the bottom of the third.

OSU answered with three runs in the top of the fourth to tie it, tagging starter Levi Prater with three hits. The Cowboys pushed ahead 5-4 in the top of the fifth, but OU (31-20, 9-12 Big 12) regained the lead, 6-5, on Brandon Zaragoza’s double to right field in the bottom half of the frame.

The Cowboys (30-17, 12-9 Big 12) never trailed again after Carter homered against left-handed reliever Ledgend Smith in the eighth inning. A night earlier, Colin Simpson did the same thing when Johnson pulled Jaret Godman in favor of Prater, a lefty.

Sunday, OU brought the tying run to the plate twice in the ninth inning. Tyler Hardman sent a ball to the warning track in right field with the bases loaded, but it was caught and scored just one run.

“I mean, we had nine hits. We scored seven runs. That’s not bad,” said Ware, a senior who played his final game at the ballpark. “On any given day, it probably works. Today, it just wasn’t our luck.

“I think our offense, we’re close. That’s what coach just got done saying, we’re really close as an offense to doing what we want to do.”

An OU win would’ve clinched a spot in the Big 12 tournament and perhaps pushed the Sooners safely into the NCAA postseason. While it seems likely OU will reach the conference tournament following next week’s series at Texas, the Sooners have not mathematically clinched a spot. A few scenarios could keep them home.

Johnson called Sunday’s game one of inches.

“Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t,” he said. “And it didn’t go our way today.”

Extra frames

• Holding on: Oklahoma State’s Bryce Carter had all kinds of ties in the Bedlam series before coming up with his decisive home run at Oklahoma.

The Tulsa (Cascia Hall) product has had family attend OSU, OU and even Texas, where Skip Johnson cut his teeth as a pitching coach. But he spent most of his college career at Stanford.

“I have been around [Bedlam] in a way, but not really,” Carter said. “My older brother went to OU, my younger brother actually still goes here. I know about the rivalry. My dad went to the University of Texas, so we have a complete house divided right now.”

• Home free: The Cowboys’ home-run festival continued from Friday and Saturday, with Cade Cabbiness’ solo homer in the second inning.

At that point, seven of OSU’s eight runs in the series had all come off solo blasts.

In all, nine of the Cowboys’ 17 runs on the weekend came off homers courtesy of Christian Funk (2), Colin Simpson (2), Andrew Navigato, Carson McCusker, Trevor Boone, Bryce Carter and Cabbiness.

“Sometimes you don’t want to be quite so reliant upon them,” OSU coach Josh Holliday said. “But when you have them in your back pocket, when they break out they can be difference makers.”

Inside the game

Clear, sunny skies and 75 degrees made Sunday great for the 2,339 fans who soaked up Bedlam.

It wasn’t easy on the eyes, though.

OSU’s Hueston Morrill lost a ball in the sunlight that allowed an OU run to score, and he wasn’t the only one.

Christian Funk dropped a shallow RBI-single into right field in the fourth inning that OU second baseman Conor McKenna and right fielder Brady Harlan had trouble closing in on, which allowed a run to score during the Cowboys’ three-run fourth inning.

On deck

OU travels to Texas for a 6:30 p.m. game Thursday for its final regular-season series.