TULSA — Oklahoma senior Kindle Ladd had been plenty comfortable on the mound against Oklahoma State all year.
Four first-inning runs Saturday in the regular-season finale helped Ladd settle in even more comfortably and Ladd kept up his strong performances in Bedlam to help the Sooners come out with an 8-1 win in front of a sold-out crowd of 8,709 at ONEOK Field.
The Sooners’ win snapped Oklahoma State’s 12-game winning streak and broke a three-game losing streak for OU.
In three appearances against the Cowboys this year, Ladd has given up just one run in 12 innings.
Saturday, Ladd allowed a run and four hits in five innings for the win.
“I thought he changed speeds real well and worked fast,” Cowboys coach Josh Holliday said. “He did a nice job of putting the ball where he wanted it. He had a good game plan.
“The kid knows what he’s going out there and is a very good competitor.”
After playing five times during the regular season, the teams are plenty familiar with each other and will get another shot at 4 p.m. Wednesday when the teams open up the Big 12 Tournament against each other at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
OSU leads the season series 3-2.
“It’s Game 6, we’ve got to try to force a Game 7, right?” Oklahoma coach Pete Hughes said. “That’s the downside of playing them five times and then the luck of the draw you get them in the Big 12 Tournament.”
The Sooners, though, have matched up well against the Cowboys.
While OU’s pitching staff has struggled for long stretches this season, they were sharp in the three-game conference series despite dropping two of three.
In the three games, Oklahoma pitchers gave up just seven runs overall (six earned) and walked just nine.
“I know that you can have success against Oklahoma State if you can throw a ton of strikes,” Hughes said. “Their major weapon offensively is the walk so if you don’t go out there and beat yourself and you make your pitches and you don’t beat yourself and you just pound the zone, you have a chance.”
Ladd was able to settle in thanks to some offensive help early.
Anthony Hermelyn and Kolbey Carpenter each hit two-run singles in the first as Cowboys starter Garrett Williams lasted just 2/3 of an inning.
“I feel like we’ve been playing well, it just hasn’t gone in our favor,” Carpenter said “I think we played good enough to win and luckily it just went our way tonight.”
The Sooners added two more in the fourth and then two more in the eighth on Sheldon Neuse’s two-run home run.
Hermelyn, a key contributor on last season’s OU team that won the Big 12 Tournament, said this team had the potential to make another run.
“All those returners go to bed at night and that ring’s still on our nightstands,” Hermelyn said. “So it’s a reminder right there of what you can accomplish if you get on a run and get hot. Tonight things went our way and hopefully here starting Wednesday it’ll keep going our way. We’re looking forward to making a run right here and getting into the (NCAA) tournament.”
While OU is looking to turn around its regular-season fortunes, the Cowboys will try to keep their going after winning the league outright for the first time in Big 12 history.
“As I told the boys out in the outfield, that part of the year is done now,” Holliday said. “We’re proud of what we’ve done but it can do nothing but provide confidence. It cannot continue to be the talking point for us. We have to go out now and roll up our sleeves for the next phase of the year.”