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Mike Lopresti | | June 17, 2022

Oklahoma's offensive barrage opened the Men's College World Series — mirroring softball's blasts

Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma: 2022 Men's College World Series highlights

OMAHA, Neb. — Different size ball, same College World Series rampage on the scoreboard for Oklahoma. This is turning into some terrific spring in Norman.

These were the Sooner baseball men in Omaha Friday, not the softball women in Oklahoma City, but how could you tell? Lots of Oklahoma hits, lots of Oklahoma runs, and a clear message at the end: The Sooners mean business.

By the time the MCWS opener ended Friday afternoon, with Oklahoma’s 13-8 win over Texas A&M, the Sooners were dreaming even bigger in Omaha. They scored 12 runs before their 11th out, held off a late Aggie surge, and stormed into the winner’s bracket. The 13 runs were the most for a team in a CWS opener in 14 years. The two teams combined for 11 runs in the first two innings and that hadn’t happened in a College World Series in 22 years, and the combined 21 runs were the most ever in the 12 years of Charles Schwab Field.

So it didn’t take long for Omaha 2022 to turn noisy and Oklahoma was making most of the racket.

FOLLOW THE MCWS: Click or tap here for scores and the schedule for the 2022 Men's College World Series

“We just want to attack the game and play with no fear,” Jackson Nicklaus was saying. He’s the second baseman who hit a grand slam. Yeah, we know what you’re thinking. Jackson Nicklaus? Any chance he’s related to . . .? “

Sure is. Back to that in a minute.

But about the Sooners. They put a whipping on the Aggies, who didn’t help themselves by walking 10, hitting three batters and committing two errors. “We set the table too much,” Texas A&M coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “You can’t set the table.”

Not against this Oklahoma team, anyway.

“Any team you face here is going to be extremely good,” Aggies catcher Troy Claunch had said the day before. “They’re either really good, really hot or both. I would say Oklahoma is both right now.”

So it appears. This throttling came only eight days after the mighty Oklahoma women clinched the softball national title.

Not to put the Sooner Schooner ahead of the horse, but no school has ever won the baseball and softball championships the same year. UCLA came close in 2010, winning in softball and finishing second in baseball.

“I’ll take the centerfielder. The girl that hits all the home runs,” coach Skip Johnson said Friday, meaning Jocelyn Alo. Johnson was there at the softball regional championship to watch the women, sitting next to men’s basketball coach Porter Moser. Moser was in the house Friday. So was 2018 Heisman winner Kyler Murray, who played both football and baseball at Oklahoma before choosing the NFL. He spoke to the team Thursday night.

So there’s quite an all-Sooners-on-deck dynamic going on with Oklahoma.

“Goodness it’s fun,” Johnson said. “That’s what the University of Oklahoma is all about. That’s what we do.

“When you have an ex-player like him come back, you know you’ve done something to carve your name on his heart, and that he shows that he cares about us, because we cared about him.”

Murray’s message to the Sooners?

“Kyler told us this is every kid’s dream, and don’t play tight just because you’re in it,” said pitcher Trevin Michael, who would finish off the Aggies Friday with 2.2 innings of one-hit relief. “I don’t know if it was his doing, us doing that, but it definitely didn’t hurt, an athlete of that caliber talking to us for him understanding the moment.”

MORE MCWS: Storylines, key players and themes to watch at the Men's College World Series

Oh, they were ready for the moment. The first batter, freshman John Spikerman, worked a walk and ended up scoring. Oklahoma blew open the game with seven runs in the second, then came Nicklaus’ drive in the fourth inning. That was the time Schlossnagle went to the mound to try to steady his pitcher Joseph Menefee in a bases-loaded crisis. He walked back to the dugout and about two seconds later, Nicklaus’ shot was leaving the ballpark.

“Pretty bad coaching visit,” Schlossnagle said later.

“I saw the pitch out of the hand. A nice fastball,” Nicklaus said. He’s a freshman, too. Part of the Oklahoma aggressiveness comes from the bravado of youth. College baseball might be older coast to coast this season, but of the 10 starting Sooners Friday — counting pitcher Jake Bennett — eight were freshmen or sophomores. And they had come to seize the day. Didn’t matter much who was in the way.

“We talk about it all the time. The opponents are cool but we’re just playing against the baseball. It’s the same game, just against a different opponent,” Nicklaus said. “We had a game plan. We wanted to execute early. We did.”

Nicklaus now owns only the third CWS grand slam in the 12 years of Charles Schwab Field.

“That’s what our offense does,” Michael said. “It’s relentless.”

OK, now back to the name. Surely Nicklaus must get asked about it.

“A lot,” he said. “It’s a longer story that it needs to be. We are related. I have documents to prove that. But we’re fourth cousins. Nothing serious, besides the same last name, my (first) name’s kind of based off his. I’ve never met him, never talked to him.”

And young Jackson’s golf game?

“It was a lot better when I didn’t play college baseball.”

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Division I
Baseball Championship
June 17 - 28, 2023
Charles Schwab Field Omaha | Omaha, NE

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