'Kind of surreal': David Sandlin pitches OU baseball past Texas A&M, into College World Series finals

·5 min read

Eleck Collins just wanted to go to Cracker Barrel for his 90th birthday.

Instead, his big day turned out better than he ever could've imagined.

From the comfort of a family member’s home in Fortville, Indiana, Collins got to watch his grandson, OU pitcher David Sandlin, shine during the Sooners’ College World Series win over Texas A&M on Wednesday.

Sandlin recorded a career-high 12 strikeouts in seven innings pitched to lead OU to a 5-1 victory, which advanced the Sooners to the CWS finals.

“It was super,” Collins said of Sandlin’s performance. “I enjoyed watching him. Who wouldn’t enjoy watching their grandson play ball?”

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Jun 22, 2022; Omaha, NE, USA; Oklahoma Sooners starting pitcher David Sandlin (28) reacts after pitching against the Texas A&M Aggies in the seventh inning at Charles Schwab Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 22, 2022; Omaha, NE, USA; Oklahoma Sooners starting pitcher David Sandlin (28) reacts after pitching against the Texas A&M Aggies in the seventh inning at Charles Schwab Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Sandlin grew up looking forward to spending time with his grandfather.

The Owasso native remembers making the annual trip to Indiana for Christmas. He also remembers fishing with Collins and talking to him about the Indianapolis Colts.

For a while, the Colts were the only sports team Collins had any interest in. But after Sandlin transferred from Eastern Oklahoma State College to OU last offseason, the Sooners gained a new fan.

“We’re really close,” Sandlin said. “He’s always been there for me. I know he wishes he could’ve been at the game today, but I’m just glad I was able to help us get a win for him.”

Sandlin set the tone by striking out the side in the top of the first inning. The final out came against Trevor Werner, who got to a 1-2 count before whiffing on a breaking ball.

“Come on,” Sandlin yelled to the crowd while waving his arms as he walked off the mound.

Meanwhile, Collins was equally excited about the hot start back in Indiana.

“He just kept calling me during the game and saying ‘Can you believe this? Look at David. Look at him go,’” said Shelby Collins, Sandlin’s cousin. “He was just so proud. We all are.”

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Eleck Collins watches from Fortville, Indiana, as his grandson, David Sandlin, pitches for the Oklahoma baseball team at the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.
Eleck Collins watches from Fortville, Indiana, as his grandson, David Sandlin, pitches for the Oklahoma baseball team at the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.

Sandlin got some help from OU’s bats in the bottom of the first inning.

The Sooners struck thanks to Jimmy Crooks, who crushed a three-run home run over the right-field wall.

A Texas A&M error allowed OU to take a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning, and Tanner Tredaway made it a 5-0 contest with an RBI single in the fifth.

The Aggies got on the board in the top of the sixth inning via a leadoff home run by Dylan Rock, but Sandlin kept his composure.

The redshirt sophomore retired the next two batters before getting to a full count against Troy Claunch. The crowd at Charles Schwab Field began a slow cap, and it went into a frenzy when Sandlin got Claunch to go down swinging for his 11th strikeout of the afternoon.

"I just tried to build off of everything that was going on in the game," Sandlin said. "I like to play with emotions. I know sometimes that's not the best thing to do, but that's who I've been and who I always will be.

"It just goes back to the execution. As long as I kept doing that, that's really what fueled me."

Sandlin allowed just five hits in seven innings. The 12 strikeouts tied for the most by a Big 12 player in CWS history.

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Oklahoma's Jimmy Crooks (3) bumps helmets with Peyton Graham (20) and Blake Robertson (26) celebrating his three run homer in the first inning against Texas A&M during an NCAA College World Series baseball game Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/John Peterson)
Oklahoma's Jimmy Crooks (3) bumps helmets with Peyton Graham (20) and Blake Robertson (26) celebrating his three run homer in the first inning against Texas A&M during an NCAA College World Series baseball game Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/John Peterson)

Sandlin then handed the ball to closer Trevin Michael to start the eighth inning, and he secured the final six outs to give OU the win.

"I'm really proud of our club," OU head coach Skip Johnson said. "Hats off to Texas A&M. They have a really good team. To navigate through that lineup was really hard at times, and I'm just really proud of our baseball team and what we've done."

While Sandlin celebrated with his teammates after the game, Eleck celebrated with a surprise birthday party that his family threw for him.

It was quite the surprise for Eleck, who thought there wouldn't be a party and was prepared to go to Cracker Barrel after the game.

"He was ready to go to Cracker Barrel," Shelby said as she laughed. "He was surprised."

OU advances to the College World Series Finals. It’ll face the winner of Ole Miss and Arkansas in a best-of-three series that begins Saturday at 6 p.m.

For Sandlin, he'll have some special supporters watching from Indiana as he tries to help his team earn its first national title since 1994.

"It still feels kind of surreal," Sandlin said. "We'll be ready for Saturday."

College World Series

Championship round at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Neb.

Saturday's game

OU vs. Ole Miss/Arkansas winner, 6 p.m. (ESPN)

Sunday's game

OU vs. Ole Miss/Arkansas winner, 2 p.m. (ESPN)

Monday's game

OU vs. Ole Miss/Arkansas winner, 6 p.m., if necessary, (ESPN)

Note: Ole Miss and Arkansas played late Wednesday. Ole Miss needs one win to advance to play OU. 

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This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Oklahoma Sooners beat Texas A&M in NCAA baseball College World Series