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MCWS notebook: David Sandlin's success reaches from Owasso to Omaha (and why didn't he start for the Rams until his senior season?)

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APTOPIX CWS SCarolina Oklahoma Baseball

Lightning bolts lit the sky above Rosenblatt Stadium while Oklahoma played South Carolina in an NCAA College World Series baseball game in Omaha, Neb., on June 20, 2010.

From Owasso to Omaha

Larry Turner was laughing when talking about how his phone began blowing up immediately after ESPN’s announcers questioned his Owasso High School coaching style.

How did David Sandlin — Oklahoma’s hero in Wednesday’s 5-1 win over Texas A&M – not make the team as a high school junior? The broadcast crew was teasing that the Owasso coach made a mistake to when Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team.

“I was walking into the house and Joe Patterson, who played for me and coaches down in (Oklahoma City) now, he asked me if I was watching the game and sent me the laughing emoji,” Turner said with a chuckle. “And then my daughter just said ‘I think the commentators are roasting you.’”

Sandlin didn’t play until his senior season at Owasso and turned into a college star at Eastern Oklahoma State College and this season at OU. In the Men’s College World Series win, he threw seven innings and struck out 11 while allowing only one run.

“He was a late bloomer and really didn’t pitch until his senior season,” Turner said. “What impressed me if he would always follow his pitching coach (Jason Stump). It was just like an FFA kid, taking livestock to the fair, where you’re just leading your livestock around.

“David was always within five or six feet of our pitching coach or anybody who he could just absorb or pick something up. He would work to get better.”

Turner did have a big regret about Sandlin’s senior season.

“It was him not having the opportunity to appear in the state tournament in his senior year after everything he had done to make himself better,” Turner said, remembering a first-round loss to eventual champion Edmond Santa Fe. “I have nothing against who we started. But just looking back, I feel like I let that one get away from him and David deserved to have that opportunity.”

Turner said he’s ecstatic with how Sandlin is performing during the Sooners’ postseason.

“I just can’t tell you how proud and how happy I am for him,” Turner said. “Maybe I take it a little personal, but I feel like a lot of people had doubts about (Wednesday) because of the other day (⅓ innings pitched, four runs allowed on Friday). He wasn’t very good in relief.

“I watched the first two innings today and it was just money. It wasn’t like he was jittery and all over the place. He was just dialed in,” Turner said.

Turner said before his senior year, Sandlin was “just average” and his velocity wasn’t strong.

“But he was just a great kid and he was going to prove me or prove us wrong,” Turner said. “He was motivated and every year, he got better and better.

“I’m not texting him tonight. I’m calling him. I’ve coached a lot of great kids and they’ve had great families and stuff. He’s one of those guys that you can count on one hand that you’re so happy for.”

Visiting Rosenblatt

Rosenblatt Stadium was the former home of the MCWS in Omaha. College baseball’s final games were played there until the 2010 season and games are now played at Charles Schwab Field. Before Tuesday’s practice, OU coach Skip Johnson took the team to the old stadium to point out it’s where the program’s 1994 national championship team celebrated their triumph.

“That’s why I have the best baseball operations guy in baseball, Ryan Gaines. He came to me before we went over to practice, and he goes, ‘Man, I got a good idea’ I asked him, ‘What’s that?’ He said, ‘Let’s go over to Rosenblatt,’ “ Johnson said. “Let’s go over there and show those guys where this place has been, what the College World Series is about, where the Oklahoma Sooners won the last national championship in 1994 on.

“It was really big. Just explained to them … before they got off the bus, you know, this is what college baseball is about. I remember it was like an airport, balls leaving that yard. I got to play in 2009 in Rosenblatt, and it was really special. Didn’t get to come back in 2010, but got to open up 2011 here. It’s a great place.”

Tough to hit

Texas A&M’s Troy Claunch was asked what made Sandlin tough on Wednesday.

“He is just able to mix all of his pitches. He was able to get ahead early with fastballs in the first half, and then next time around was able to mix and kind of threw whatever he wanted whenever he wanted,” Claunch said. “Hats off to him.”

— Eric Bailey, Tulsa World


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