The Sooners know how to get comfortable on the road.
When they’re on a bus or plane, they pass the time by watching movies together. The 1993 film Tombstone is the most common selection.
When they’re at the hotel, they eat a good meal before unwinding with some video games. Unsurprisingly, MLB The Show is a fan favorite.
This routine has become the norm for OU during its nomadic postseason. After claiming a Big 12 Tournament title in Arlington, Texas, the Sooners continued their tour by winning both the Gainesville Regional and the Blacksburg Super Regional.
“It feels comfortable for us,” Crooks said on Wednesday. “We’re really built to play on the road. I don’t think it really bothers us as a team. I think it makes us a little bit stronger.”
On Friday, Crooks and the Sooners made themselves at home on the biggest stage of them all.
OU began its College World Series run with a 13-8 win over No. 5 Texas A&M at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska. The Sooners made an early statement by scoring seven runs in the second inning, and Crooks delivered the exclamation mark.
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After a two-run single by Blake Robertson and an RBI single by Tanner Tredaway extended the lead to 5-0, Crooks stole the show by launching a three-run home run over the wall in the right field.
“I thought we set the table really early,” OU head coach Skip Johnson said. “I’m really proud of the young men for battling and grinding it out pitch to pitch.”
A three-run homer by Texas A&M’s Jordan Thompson trimmed the deficit to 8-3 at the bottom of the frame, but freshman Jackson Nicklaus kept OU in charge.
The Sooners loaded the bases in the top of the third inning when Nicklaus sent a sky-scraping shot into right field. All the Aggies’ outfielders could do was watch as it sailed over their heads for a grand slam.
“I knew I wasn’t going to be late to the fastball,” Nicklaus said. “I’ve been working hard on that, working on diagnosing pitches, separating balls and strikes. I saw the pitch out of the hand, a nice fastball, and just tried to put a good swing on it.”
Redshirt sophomore pitcher Jake Bennett kept Texas A&M’s offense contained. He finished the day with three strikeouts and four runs given up in six innings, but the floodgates opened once he stepped off the mound.
The Aggies racked up four runs at the bottom of the seventh inning to make it a 12-8 contest. They got a trio of RBI singles, and all of them came with two strikes.
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But it wasn’t enough.
An RBI double by John Spikerman in the top of the ninth extended OU’s lead to 13-8, and closer Trevin Michael did the rest. The graduate transfer secured the final out by getting Jack Moss to fly out.
“I was just trying to pitch with a lead the whole time,” Michael said. “I wasn’t really trying to go in there and strike everybody out or anything like that. And it was really easy for me to settle in with a lead like that.”
Nicklaus finished with four RBIs and two runs on 1-for-3 hitting. Crooks and Robertson each added three RBIs while going 1-for-4 and 1-for-5 at the plate, respectively.
OU advances to face the winner of No. 9 Texas and Notre Dame on Sunday at 6 pm The Sooners will be without redshirt junior Brett Squires, who broke his hand Friday after getting hit by a pitch in the third inning.
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Up next for OU: Texas-Notre Dame winner
When: 6 pm Sunday
Where: Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska
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