So read the tweet from the official @OU_Baseball account at 12:12 am early in the morning of April 16. While the clock continued to move forward, time appeared to stand still at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium despite Tuesday turning into Wednesday. The game was the second of five to be played between the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State baseball teams on the season.
Craig Aikin stepped up to the plate as the first batter of the game and saw the first pitch of the night, a called strike from Garrett Williams, at 6:36 pm. That pitch would be the first of 332 thrown by Cowboy pitchers and 640 collectively by the two teams in a five-hour and 52-minute game.
It was a story that unfolded through three acts in the time frame that a standard baseball game fits two full-length games.
Act I: Power
Oklahoma played for a run in the first, but it was a grand slam by Austin O’Brien deep over the wall in left-center that gave the Sooners a 4-0 lead before right-hander Robert Tasin even took the hill. Oklahoma State answered with home runs by Tanner Krietemeier and Gage Green, totaling three runs, thus cutting the OU lead to 4-3 after just one inning of play.
A three-run inning for the Cowboys did nothing to immediately slow the Sooner bats. Another four-run inning ensued, including a two-run double by Sheldon Neuse and Oklahoma led 8-3 just an inning and a half into the game.
The power disappeared briefly until Zach Fish lifted a solo home run for OSU in the bottom of the sixth, but it was quickly negated as Kolbey Carpenter offered a solo shot of his own to left-center; pushing the OU lead to 9-4.
Act II: The Comeback
The home team, ranked 13th in the country and winners of nine of their last 10, including a 3-1 win in Norman two weeks earlier, was forced out of its comfort zone and had to play from behind. Oklahoma turned to its fourth pitcher of the night by bringing in Drew Krittenbrink with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning. He inherited a first and second situation and promptly loaded the bases after a groundball hit back to the mound deflected off his glove for an infield single. An error at shortstop brought in two runs and a wild pitch one more as Oklahoma State cut the lead to 9-7.
Head coach Pete Hughes called on the Sooner closer, Ralph Garza Jr., to pitch the bottom of the ninth. Three straight one-out singles cut the lead to one and a RBI groundout tied the game, 9-9. With the potential game-winning run standing just 90 feet away from home plate, Garza issued a walk on a full count to load the bases, but was able to send the game to extras with a groundball out hit to Neuse at third base.
“This sport, you have to handle adversity, the ups and downs and the ebbs and flows of it,” said Hughes. “That game had every situation possible.”
Intermission: Lights Stay on for Ladd
From there, the game seemed to take a break. Despite a lack of highlight-level play, Kindle Ladd was the star of the intermission. He entered the game to pitch the 12th inning even though he was initially scheduled to be off that day and start a weekend series game against West Virginia.
“To be honest, [the West Virginia game] didn’t even cross my mind,” stated Ladd. “It was OU and OSU and we were in Stillwater and I was trying to get out there and get a win and that’s what happened. It was a lot of fun.”
The second nine, as it was referred to by Norman Transcript beat writer John Shinn, felt as though it went by quickly in a game that would not end. Garza settled in a tossed two scoreless innings before giving way to Ladd. After 83 pitches, Ladd has matched a career-high with six innings of work. He surrendered two hits, walked two and struck out four. The Cowboys went quietly in each of their first four frames against Ladd even though they managed base runners in each inning. It was the 15th where OSU had its best chance at walking off. Green doubled with one out, but after a pop up on the infield, Hughes elected to walk the dangerous Arakawa and Ladd was able to strand both runners by inducing a groundball out to third base.
“Each inning, we got closer and closer to scoring, then in the 18th we got those three runs to put us ahead,” recalled Ladd. “You’ve just got to go out there and fight and that’s what I tried to do to keep [Oklahoma State] at bay.”
Ladd’s final two innings were his easiest as he cruised through six batters, including two strikeouts in the 17th.
In extras, the Sooners challenged the Cowboys right away in the 10th. Neuse doubled to left-center with one away, but was unable to advance on an infield single by Mac James and the inning ended on a 1-6-3 double play. The 14th ended on a double play as well. Taylor Alspaugh and Aikin each hit a one-out single before a 6-4-3 double play got Oklahoma State out of the jam.
As midnight crept closer, Oklahoma began to take more chances on the bases looking to force the issue and make something happen. James singled with one out in the 15th, but was erased as he attempted to steal second. Carpenter hit a lead-off single in the 16th and was tagged out at second as he attempted to stretch the base hit into a double.
“It’s a grind. It was a long game; a long night. The hitters kept battling just like I tried to do and all of the pitchers tried to do,” said Ladd.
Act III: Fantastic Finish
The fans who remained settled into their seats at 12:05 am for the final act. The announced attendance was 2,717. A generous count would put the number at 300 when the 18th inning arrived.
O’Brien walked with one out, well over five hours after hitting a grand slam in what felt like an entirely different game. Carpenter then came to the plate with two outs and on the sixth pitch of the at-bat and facing a full count, allowing O’Brien to put the wheels in motion early. He lined a double down the left field line and Hughes vehemently waved for O’Brien to make the turn and head for home.
“Ripped down the left field line, into the corner, it’s extra bases,” rang out Toby Rowland across the Sooner Sports Network. “O’Brien is being waved home. He hits the third base bag. Here’s the relay to the infield, it’s bobbled and he is safe! And the Sooners lead! The Sooners lead, 10-9, in the top of the 18th. An RBI-double for Kolbey Carpenter.”
The Sooners had finally been able to breakthrough with the first run of extra innings. Sensing a chance to break the game open, Hector Lorenzana then singled to center and brought in Carpenter to increase the lead to two. Alspaugh, who entered the game as a pinch-runner in the seventh, singled to continue the inning and Aikin then delivered Lorenzana to home with a base knock of his own.
Neuse, coming off a 2-for-8 night at the plate, moved to the mound for the bottom of the 18th in what was just his fourth pitching appearance in his young collegiate career. The pitching change came at a price for Hughes and the Sooners. Oklahoma put together an infield that hadn’t played a single inning together all season. James made his first career appearance at third base with Lorenzana at short, Carpenter starting his first game at second and O’Brien moving to first for just the sixth time all season.
“Plenty of toughness was involved in that game,” pointed out Hughes. “It was a full team effort. You look at character, toughness, resiliency. All those things were learned. It was a big win for us. We needed [it] and needed a big win like this on the road.”
Neuse made quick work in the 18th, even working around a two-out walk, and finished the night with a routine groundball to short.
“Groundball, leftside, Hector’s there. Braces, throws, got him. Win column Sooners! Marathon over,” an excited Rowland proclaimed. “Final score on a Tuesday night, in the longest game in OU baseball history, Sooners 12 and Cowboys 9.”
The Sooner faithful stuck it out as the night went on; possibly even joining the excitement with each passing inning. The game featured 42 players, 33 hits and 21 runs. It was the longest game on record in Oklahoma history and the first win for the Sooners in Stillwater since 1992.
The night, which was slowly turning toward day, began to close as the final tweets were sent, deadlines missed and cold chicken sandwiches were served on the bus back to Norman. None of it was anticipated, but the commonly referred to “Bedlam” should have been an obvious indicator.