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Unseeded Oklahoma blows out No. 5 Texas A&M in CWS opener

Kirk Bohls
Austin American-Statesman
Oklahoma's Jackson Nicklaus hits a grand slam in the fourth inning against Texas A&M at the College World Series on Friday.

OMAHA, Neb. — Oklahoma followed a script it — and others — know all too well in the opening game of the College World Series between two former Big 12 rivals.

The Sooners struck with the big inning, scoring seven runs in the second when they sent 10 men to the plate and benefited from a three-run home run from Jimmy Crooks en route to a 13-8 win over fifth-seeded Texas A&M on Friday afternoon.

Freshman Jackson Nicklaus then struck the big blow with a grand slam in the fourth to effectively put away an Aggie team that had swept through the NCAA postseason as one of only two teams to go 5-0 in their regionals and super regionals.

The Aggies didn’t go quietly, however. They put up four runs in the seventh with the help of consecutive RBI singles by Kole Kaler, Trevor Werner and Jack Moss to cut their deficit to 12-8.

But Trevin Michael came in and put the clamps on the rally with three shutout innings on one hit.

This one seemed as if it would be over before it started as OU pummeled A&M early, much as it did with an eight-run inning to best Texas 8-1 in the Big 12 Tournament final. A&M used six pitchers in the game.

Aggies starter Nate Dettmer didn’t survive the second inning, and unseeded OU made him pay with Crooks’ blast and RBI singles from Blake Robertson and Tanner Tredaway.

Jim Schlossnagle, in his first season coaching A&M, never seemed to make the right move, leaving pitchers in too long before pulling them. He stuck with Dettmer even though the sophomore right-hander hit a batter and walked two in the inning before the run-scoring singles.

Joseph Menefee surrendered the shot into the OU bullpen on his second pitch to Crooks. He ran into trouble again in the fourth when the Sooners set the table with an infield single, an Aggie error on a sacrifice attempt and a walk, and Nicklaus cleared the bases to remove all the drama from the game.

Jake Bennett (10-3) got the win for OU (43-22), which advances to play the winner of Friday night’s Texas-Notre Dame game Sunday night. A&M (42-19), which had won 16 of its last 19 games, falls into the losers’ bracket Sunday afternoon.

Bennett, a sophomore left-hander, did get touched for four runs in six innings, the biggest damage coming on Jordan Thompson’s three-run homer, but was never in major trouble. The OU bullpen was shaky, however, as reliever David Sandlin was hit hard and lasted just a third of an inning before Michael shut the door.