|OU Baseball Tradition | 1951 National Champions||OU Baseball Main|
Oklahoma came from behind to defeat the University of Tennessee, 3-2, in the championship game to become the first team in College World Series history to claim the title after winning the double-elimination tournament in straight games without defeat.
The title also gave the University of Oklahoma the distinction of becoming the first school to win three national titles in one school year after the football and wrestling teams both captured national championships.
As OU Head Coach Jack Baer recalled years later, the title was a credit to the team's dedication and competitiveness.
"We just weren't a great team, but everybody worked hard," said Baer. "We had a couple of good hitters and two good pitchers, three really."
It was a fine pitching performance by one of those good pitchers that lifted the Sooners to victory in the championship game. Oklahoma starting pitcher Jack Shirley held the Volunteers to only two runs on three hits while facing only five batters over the minimum and putting the side down in order in seven of the nine innings. After surrendering a single and a double in the first inning, the righthander from Altus, Okla., quieted the Tennessee bats until the fifth inning when he gave up a RBI-single that drove in the Volunteers' second run of the inning. The win was Shirley's second of the tournament after leading the Sooners to victory in their first game against Ohio State, and his eighth in nine starts that year. Shirley's game-ending numbers included four walks and six strikeouts while stranding three Volunteer baserunners.
Offensively, Oklahoma pounded out 11 hits off of two Tennessee pitchers. Most of the Sooners' offensive production came from three players: catcher John Reddell, leftfielder Phil McKee and first baseman Gene Sheets. Reddell led all hitters with a 3-for-5 performance, while McKee and Sheets both turned in two-hit efforts.
However, it was centerfielder Charley Pugsley who delivered the key hit for the Sooners that day. With the game tied at two and two outs in the top of the eighth inning, Pugsley hammered his only hit of the evening into centerfield to score third baseman Ray Morgosh with the winning run.
OU scored its first run of the game in the sixth inning when UT's starting pitcher walked in Reddell with the bases loaded. Reddell figured into the Sooners' next scoring play when he singled home McKee from third to tie the game at two in the top of the seventh inning.
The Sooners struggled in their first game of the College World Series before routing its next two opponents to make it to the championship game. It took Oklahoma extra frames to defeat Big Ten Champ Ohio State, 9-8, in 10 innings after OU committed six errors and left 16 men stranded on the base paths. Despite walking 15 batters, Oklahoma pitcher Jim Waldrip hurled a two-hit ballgame against Springfield (Mass.) College in the second game of the tournament as the Sooners emerged 7-1 victors. Then, OU took its spot in the national championship game by defeating Southern California, 4-1. Another pitching star for Oklahoma, Floyd Murphy, led the Sooners to victory over the Trojans as Murphy scattered eight hits, while the Sooner defense aided the effort by turning four double plays in the game.
After beginning the season with six straight losses, OU finished the regular season 12-9 and captured the Big Seven Conference crown after compiling a 10-1 mark in league play. The Sooners' shaky start melted away into a hot streak which saw OU win its last 13 games en route to the title. The 13-game streak currently stands in a tie for third all-time as the longest win streak to end a season by a College World Series champion.
Oklahoma 3, Tennessee 2 - Sunday, June 17 - Omaha, Neb.