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Sooners baseball has options heading into winner-take-all Game 7 vs. UConn

Eddie On3by:Eddie Radosevich06/03/24

Less than 24 hours removed from a pair of dominant pitching performances, Sooners baseball heads into Monday night’s winner-take-all regional championship in a relatively comfortable spot following a nine-hour dual-elimination game saga. 

Grant Stevens and Jett Lodes.

Their names will forever be connected to Sooners baseball lore, following career-best seven inning performances on Sunday vs. Duke and UConn.

The Sunday nightcap from Lodes being the most unexpected, matching career highs in innings and strikeouts, retiring 14 of the final 15 batters he faced after taking over for Brendan Girton in the second. 

“(Jett Lodes) was sensational, he kept us off balance. We had a couple opportunities when he first came in, he elevated a couple that were missed, but he was in complete command of the situation. He was excellent. He gave a great performance,” said UConn head coach Jim Penders

A storybook kind of day for Oklahoma, who is one win away from advancing to a Super Regional for the second time in three years. Sunday’s doubleheader sweep vaulted the Sooners to the 40-win plateau for the 25th time in program history. 

SOONERS HAVE ARMS READY 

Get into a regional and everything is connected, particularly as games and innings mount on the back end of a bullpen.

Grant Stevens throwing a season-high seven innings against Duke prevented Lodes from having to be used in the first game Sunday. In turn, Lodes going seven of his own out of the bullpen saved arms for today. 

Skip Johnson has options going into Monday night. Thanks in part to Stevens and Lodes combined 14 innings on Sunday. But also because of Kyson Witherspoon and Braden Davis, who combined to throw 12.1 innings on Friday and Saturday. 

Starter options going into Monday night mirror Stevens and Lodes in terms of portfolio. Both are veteran, senior arms in Carson Atwood and Carter Campbell. Campbell started the Big 12 Championship game last Saturday against Oklahoma State, throwing four innings allowing four hits and three runs, striking out five. Atwood has made three starts this year, his last on May 5 at Texas Tech. 

Dylan Crooks, Malachi Witherspoon and Ryan Lambert are all available options out of the bullpen. Witherspoon faced just five batters on Sunday, closing out Duke in just 20 pitches. Lambert threw seven pitches in his one inning Sunday night in the ninth against the Huskies. 

Reid Hensley has yet to pitch this weekend. 

DUH NUH NUH, DUH NUH NUH 

The first three innings of the Oklahoma-Duke game featured three of the better plays you’ll see on a baseball diamond. Kendall Pettis won the bout in a 2-1 decision over Duke right fielder A.J. Gracia. 

Both of Pettis’ grabs landing spots in Sportscenter’s Top 10 plays. 

Checking in at No. 10 was Pettis’ diving grab into foul territory to end the second inning, retiring former Sooner teammate Wallace Clark. One inning later Pettis robbed A.J. Gracia of extra-bases before slamming into the left field wall, landing at No. 4. 

It’s Pettis’ third appearance on the Sportscenter Top 10 in the last two weeks, his diving grab against TCU last week in Arlington was the top play of the day. Is Skip Johnson surprised anymore by the senior outfielder’s ability to make the spectacular play with his glove? 

“Sometimes it does. But those moments he’s always been a guy that plays really big in the big moments when he’s shaking his head no,no,no at the plate. He’s the only guy that I’ve ever coached in 35 years that can feel out of control, he looks like he’s out of control, but he’s in control,” said Johnson of Pettis’ knack to deliver in the biggest moments. 

Gracia ended the Sooners second inning bringing back a John Spikerman would-be two run home run, from over the right field wall. 

KEEPING AN EYE ON THE RADAR 

By now you probably know the drill. With isolated showers increasing in chances throughout the evening hours, it’d be a good idea to keep an eye on social media throughout the afternoon. 

If you’ve been following Oklahoma baseball this season, it’s become a common occurrence at times. Ten times over the course of the last 16 weeks has an OU baseball start time been affected or moved because of inclement weather. 

Oklahoma’s first elimination game on Sunday was delayed by two hours and six minutes because of rain and lightning in Norman. 

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