Josh Holliday wasn’t all that crazy about this fully expanded Bedlam series. And that was before the Cowboys and Sooners went 18 innings in Game 2 of a scheduled five contests Tuesday.
… and early Wednesday.
It became a near six-hour game that essentially was a non-stop doubleheader. And because it was Bedlam, neither side was about to relent, pushing their pitching staffs even with important Big 12 series looming.
Bottom line: that’s a lot of baseball for one night, especially when pitting archrivals.
And the Bedlam series hasn’t even gotten real yet, with three Big 12 games coming next month. If things spun just right, OU and OSU could conceivably face off 10 times, with potential meetings in the Big 12 Tournament and the Super Regional round of the postseason.
Bonus Bedlam is nice. But is there such a thing as too much Bedlam, especially within the confines of a 60ish game season?
The Yankees and Red Sox play each other 19 times… in a 162-game schedule.
“it’s just a lot of competition against anyone, let alone in your own state, where you have a rivalry built the quality of ours,” said Holliday, the Cowboys coach. “What ends up happening is you get a little bit over-familiar with one another.”
OU coach Pete Hughes agrees.
“I think five games is too much, and so does Coach Holliday,” Hughes said. “We’ve agreed to alternate campuses every other year and just play four games.”
That adjusted scheduling will begin in 2015. And if you’re wondering why the coaches ever agreed to five games, the current makeup actually resulted from a push from former Sooners coach Sunny Golloway.
On the surface, it’s a solid idea. Every year, each team gets a Bedlam home game. And a guaranteed good crowd, which both sides enjoyed this season, even with the road team winning each time.
But let’s not forget, Bedlam is played with an edge. And the series features some rather salty history.
“The three games are intense as it is,” said Holliday, “especially when the conference standings are involved.”
Holliday can call on some background, both as a player and assistant and now head coach in this series, and from other experiences.
“We played the University of Florida one year when I was at Vanderbilt,” Holliday said, “three games in the regular season, played them in the conference tournament and then we played them twice in Omaha.
“We played them six times in one year and it became, literally for college guys, too much. That’s a lot of competition for one squad.”
Holliday envisions a scenario that coaches, players and fans would all enjoy.
“I think if we play four and meet in the conference championship, that would be great,” he said. “Then if we meet in the postseason, it’s still reasonable.
“Outside that we could be stretching ourselves a little bit.”
SOONERS SEEKING OFFENSE
Hughes hopes the 12 runs his team produced in Stillwater represents an offensive breakthrough.
The Sooners have struggled with the bat, managing four or more runs just four times over their previous 13 games leading into Bedlam. They were shut out three times over that stretch and scored two or fewer runs in eight of the games.
Austin O’Brien’s first-inning grand slam Tuesday gave OU an immediate jolt. And while the inconsistency showed in a 10-inning scoreless run against the Cowboys, the Sooners did finish with 18 hits and, ultimately, some clutch hitting in the end.
“The game’s so much easier when you’re scoring runs,” Hughes said. “Every play isn’t so critical. Every pitch thrown isn’t critical. And it’s also a lot easier to play with a two- or three-run lead than playing from behind.
“It seems like we’ve been playing behind for the last month or so.”
COWBOYS COMING BACK, AGAIN
At OSU, they’ve learned to keep the rally caps handy.
A year ago, the Cowboys rallied in 18 of their 41 wins. This season, they’ve already come from behind in 15 of their 26 wins.
That’s why when they were down 9-4 entering the eighth inning of Bedlam, there was no panic in the OSU dugout.
“We never thought we were out of the game,” said Cowboys first baseman Tanner Krietemeier. “We never have the whole entire year.”