OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — David Sandlin held Texas A&M to one run and struck out a career-high 12 in seven innings, Jimmy Crooks’ three-run homer in the first held up and Oklahoma advanced to the College World Series finals with a 5-1 victory Wednesday.
Trying to complete a softball-baseball title sweep, the Sooners (45-22) have won three straight games at Charles Schwab Field by no fewer than four runs and will play for their first national championship since 1994.
Their opponent in the best-of-three finals starting Saturday will be either Arkansas or Mississippi. Those two teams were to met Wednesday night, with Ole Miss needing one win to advance and Arkansas needing two.
Texas A&M (44-20) finished 2-2 in the CWS under first-year coach Jim Schlossnagle after going 29-27, winning only nine Southeastern Conference games and not even qualifying for the league tournament in 2021.
The Sooners didn’t look like an NCAA Tournament team after losing two of their first three Big 12 series and starting 18-12. They’ve won 27 of 37, including 12 of 14 since the end of the regular season.
Sandlin (9-4), who allowed five hits and walked one in his 100-pitch outing, effectively worked the outside half of the plate with a sharp slider and elevated fastball.
He struck out the first three batters he faced, five of the first eight and 10 of the first 20. He encountered trouble in the fourth inning when the first two batters reached base. He then fanned Troy Claunch, Brett Minnich and Jordan Thompson on 12 pitches.
Texas A&M starter Ryan Prager (1-4) allowed four runs, three earned, in 2 1/3 innings. Jacob Palisch went the rest of the way, gave up three hits and a run and struck out eight.
The Aggies, who lost 13-8 to OU in their CWS opener Friday, beat Texas and Notre Dame to reach the bracket final. But they couldn’t score against Sandlin until Dylan Rock homered to left center leading off the sixth.
Sandlin then retired the last six batters he faced and turned the game over to closer Trevin Michael to start the eighth.
The Sooners led 3-0 in the first on Crooks’ fourth of the NCAA Tournament, and ninth of the season, and added single runs in the third and fifth. OU has not trailed in its CWS games.