It was only the second inning, but on a swinging third strike to end the inning, Oklahoma starting pitcher David Sandlin marched off the mound and yelled as he threw both hands into the air to pump up the Sooner fans in attendance at Charles Schwab Field.

The strikeout left two Texas A&M runners stranded, and with the Sooners leading 3-0, Sandlin didn’t hold any of his emotions back.

The redshirt sophomore struck out five of the first seven batters he faced on his way to leading Oklahoma to a 5-1 win over Texas A&M. Sandlin totaled a career-high 11 strikeouts to lead the Sooners to the Men’s College World Series Finals for the first time since 1994.

Sandlin’s performance comes just five days after a tough outing in a reliever role against the same high-powered Texas A&M offense.

“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, like we’ve said. As long as I kept doing that, that’s really what fueled me is to see everything working when Jimmy (Crooks) was calling it.”

Crooks delivered a big, three-run home run in the bottom of the first inning to help the Sooners grab the early lead. Oklahoma added two more runs in the third and fifth innings to build a 5-0 lead heading into the sixth.

Texas A&M’s Dylan Rock gave his team some life in the top of the sixth on a solo home run to lead off the inning, but Sandlin came back to retire the final three batters.

Sandlin was replaced by Trevin Michael in the eighth inning. The Texas native allowed five hits and one run with one walk allowed over seven innings.

“Then it’s just about establishing a strike zone and throwing strike one and going pitch to pitch,” OU head coach Skip Johnson said. “Really proud of our club. Hats off to Texas A&M. Had a really good team. To navigate through that lineup was really hard at times, and just really proud of our baseball team and what we’ve done.

The last time the two teams met, the Aggies had two hits, were given two free bases and scored four runs on Sandlin in just five plate appearances. On Wednesday, Sandlin continues the team’s impressive stretch of pitching during the postseason.

“Just got me ready for the atmosphere I was going to be in and mentally prepare almost more for this game and trust everything I had,” Sandlin said about his first appearance in the MCWS. “I think I tried a little too hard, and as Coach Johnson says, you can’t do that. You don’t want to get geared up when I don’t need to be.”

The Sooners had seven hits, with four of those coming from Crooks and John Spikerman. Tanner Tredaway hit an RBI-single in the bottom of the fifth inning to extend his hitting streak to 17 games.

“It’s really important for us to score first,” Crooks said. “That’s the whole game. You just have to score more than the other team.”

The Sooners have now brought themselves two wins away from the program’s first national championship since 1994. Oklahoma will play the winner of Ole Miss and Arkansas on Saturday at 6 p.m.

Tarik Masri is a sports reporter for The Transcript covering OU athletics and area sports. You can reach him by emailing tarik@normantranscript.com

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