Oklahoma is headed to the College World Series after an 11-2 win over Virginia Tech in the NCAA Super Regional. The Sooners continued their road warrior ways by taking down the Hokies in Blacksburg to reach Omaha.
Big games from Tanner Tredaway and Kendall Pettis at the plate allowed Oklahoma to open up a massive lead over Virginia Tech. Those two combined for three home runs and five RBIs. That allowed starting pitcher Cade Horton to be aggressive on the mound, and he took full advantage, surrendering just two runs on two hits through six innings.
After the game, Oklahoma head coach Skip Johnson, Tredaway, Pettis, Horton, and relief pitcher Trevin Michale spoke to the media. The Sooners coach and players spoke about what it means to be going to the College World Series, how Game 3 played out and much more.
SKIP JOHNSON: “You’ve got to tip your hat off to Virginia Tech. What a really good program John (Szefc) runs. Very good team. Very disciplined team. I thought, in the game, with us scoring two runs in the first inning, settled Cade (Horton) down a little bit, just to execute pitches. Defense was outstanding. Then we started to separate a little in the game, just getting to what our identity as a team is. Just to try to keep tacking on. We knew how offensive they were. They could explode at any time, and I think (Cade Horton) kept them off balance and made some quality execution of pitches. Our offense did a great job of separating the game late. Really proud of them for that. Really proud of the kids, how they came together. How they picked each other up. In the rain delay of the Regional championship game, Coach (Reggie) Willits’ dad sent us a text about David and Goliath. That’s what we’ve been talking about. We’re just a bunch of Davids, so really proud of them. Can’t say much more than really glad it’s about them. It’s not about me. It’s about the University of Oklahoma. It’s about the players and institution they play for. Thank you.”
TANNER TREDAWAY: “Dream come true, for sure. These guys, we’ve all worked our tails off since the fall. It’s a new group of guys, and we’ve just come so close within this year. I just can’t be more proud of these guys and all the work we’ve put into it. It’s led up to this moment now.”
KENDALL PETTIS: “To back up what Tred said, I feel like this group, only we believed it. I feel like a lot of people outside of OU didn’t really believe that we could do this, but no matter in the fall or the spring, we all knew that we had a chance. Like Tred also said, this is a dream come true. This is something that, as a kid growing up and playing baseball, you go to Omaha and visualize yourself being there. You watch all these guys go there and have crazy games and do everything in Omaha. That’s something I feel like is the greatest thing ever. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to go to Omaha. For us to finally be able to go and play, it’s just awesome.”
CADE HORTON: “Really, my defense helped me out a lot. (Wallace Clark) made a great play at third. Then Kendall (Pettis) had a diving catch, and hopefully a SportsCenter Top 10 catch. My plan going in was just to attack and get ahead. Honestly just focus on hitting the target. That’s all you can control when pitching is just hitting the target. That’s kind of what I did.”
HORTON: “Just coming off an injury and not playing since my junior year of high school, it was really tough coming back. It was more just getting game experience. Then also just settling down and focusing on one pitch at a time. We talk about it all the time in this program. Just take it one pitch at a time. I think, in those starts, I’ve been getting myself worked up and overthrowing. In these past couple starts, I learned from the bad ones and just took it one pitch at a time and focused on what I want to do with the pitch.”
JOHNSON: “Yeah, you tip your hat to him. He hit a good pitch. I thought our guys settled down and really took it one pitch at a time. Our bats got a little better. For us going out and scoring the next inning was really big. To get a quick run, so (Cade Horton) can go back out there. When you pitch with a lead, your stuff gets better, meaning your breaking ball gets better. Your fastball command gets better. I’m just proud that you hear our guys regurgitate what we talk about in practice every day. One pitch at a time. Throwing the pitch at the target. Nobody ever really wins in baseball, I’m telling you. It’s an imperfect game. It’s a game of failure. I’m just really proud of them attacking because the only way you can succeed is to attack. If you don’t attack, then you’re gonna fail.”
TREDAWAY: “We just really wanted to be resilient today. The biggest thing we talked about before the game started was we wanted to leave everything we had out on the field. When we took it one pitch at a time, like everybody has said, we were able to do that. It calms us. It keeps us in the moment, and we delivered today.”
TREDAWAY: “Just hitting good pitches. It’s part of the game. We were really good at separating balls and strikes today, myself for sure. We had a lot of confidence in that, and I think we kind of just took over the game.”
PETTIS: “I guess when the ball was hit, I knew he hit it pretty high, so I had a lot of time to take my eye off the ball and look at the wall. See where the wall was and be able to track it again. That’s what we work on a lot in practice is being able to take our eye off the ball and still be able to see where the ball is going and see where the wall is. I knew when the ball was like 50 feet, or coming close down, that I was really close to the wall. In a do-or-die game, I was just like, ‘Screw it. I’m gonna jump. I don’t care.’ I just decided to jump, and I thought the wall was gonna stop me, but it really clipped me. I scorpioned over the wall, and when I fell on the dirt, I thought it was going to hurt more. I really thought I was going to break my back. I got up and was fine. I was like, that was crazy. I was just doing whatever I could to help out my guy Cade (Horton) on the mound.”
PETTIS: “Yeah, I couldn’t do it without my family. My mom, my dad, my cousins, and my aunties were out there. I love them to death. It seems like every time my mom comes to a game, I hit a home run. I just need her to keep coming to more games. In all reality, I just try to do whatever I can do. Really, I know I try to do whatever I can do on defense. Offense is going to be up and down. Hitting is really hard. I know on defense, whatever play needs to be made, I know I can go get it. Whatever I can do on defense, I try to do it. On offense, like Skip said, I just try to attack the game.”
“Not really. I think the communication with us and Coach (Reggie) Willits and Coach (Clay) Overcash and Coach (Clay) Van Hook, really proud of those guys. Getting those guys out. I can remember when we were playing Oklahoma State, it was a tough battle that weekend. Blew a lead late in the game, and Reggie and Coach Van Hook kept going, ‘We’ve got to get (John) Spikerman in there. If we’re gonna use him at the end of the year, we’ve got to get Spikerman an at-bat.’ We started to get him in there because his back started feeling better because we knew what dynamic speed he had and what kind of player he was from recruiting him. We got him in there, and he got more healthy and got more healthy. Same thing with Cade (Horton). Cade was playing third base at the time. … I experience that with Cade Cavalli. We were throwing him, as a freshman, on the back end. I was like, this isn’t working. We either gotta start him now and keep him from playing third, even though he played third, and just slow him down a little bit. We knew how much we’d need him on the weekend. He kept getting better and better and better. Kept Trevin (Michael) setting back as a guy who could start a game or going three innings or five innings. It gave you comfort as a pitching coach … if we burn him on a Friday, we burn him on Friday. If we didn’t have to use him on Saturday, we could do the same thing on Sunday, which we did today.”
TREDAWAY: “Did it feel like it? No, I never feel like it’s gonna be one of those days. I just told myself that it’s my senior year, and this could be our last game. I just wanted to leave it all on the field. Made some magic happen.”
TREDAWAY: “We just shortened up our swings a little bit. I think me and (Kendall Pettis) both do. We like to choke up a little bit and keep our swings short. The biggest thing was there was stuff left over the plate, and we were able to do some damage on it.”
PETTIS: “Like Tanner said, stuff left over the plate. Just trying to hit the fastball. Seeing off-speed up of the fastballs, we can do damage with those pitches.”
“I thought he was really good. I thought his breaking ball was really good. I thought his fastball getting to his glove side was really good. His presence is always really good. You could see him walking off the mound when he kind of got out of control. Walk to the back of the mound, release it, and get back to the next pitch, which is really good. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything to him because I said, ‘How do you feel?’ going into that last inning. He said, ‘Well, I’m getting kind of tired.’ Probably shouldn’t have said anything to him, but I thought he gutted it out. I don’t know what the temperature was, but I know it was really hot. The humidity was really big, and we’re kind of used to it, being in Florida last week. It was really really hot. I thought he was outstanding going pitch to pitch.”
HORTON: “This lineup, it really helped me a lot today. It’s a lot easier to pitch with a lead. It’s more comfortable. Like Skip said, your stuff gets better when you’re pitching with a lead. I was fired up when Tanner (Tredaway) hit that (home run). I think the offense, honestly, helped me out a ton going out there today.”