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Oklahoma starting pitcher David Sandlin was dominant as the Sooners defeated Texas A&M Wednesday to reach the College World Series championship round.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Oklahoma's baseball players came to the College World Series calling themselves "a bunch of Davids," a nod to their embrace of the underdog identity they adopted after an underwhelming start to the season.

It was one David — David Sandlin — who got most of the credit Wednesday for taking down Texas A&M, the last of the national seeds in the NCAA Tournament.

Sandlin held the Aggies to one run and struck out a career-high 12 in seven innings, Jimmy Crooks' three-run homer in the first held up and Oklahoma advanced to the CWS finals with a 5-1 victory.

Trying to complete a softball-baseball title sweep, the Sooners (45-22) have won three straight games at Charles Schwab Field by no fewer than four runs and will play for their first national championship since 1994.

Their opponent in the best-of-three finals starting Saturday will be either Arkansas or Mississippi. Those two teams will play an elimination game on Thursday after Arkansas won Wednesday matchup.

As Sooners fans chanted "O-U! O-U!" closer Trevin Michael struck out Brett Minnich to end the game against the Aggies. The celebration was subdued.

"I think those kids are focused," coach Skip Johnson said. "I don't know if it's dog-piling or whatever it is It's kind of weird sometimes. I don't tell them not to dog-pile, I can tell you that."

Texas A&M (44-20) finished 2-2 in the CWS under first-year coach Jim Schlossnagle after going 29-27, winning only nine Southeastern Conference games and not even qualifying for the league tournament in 2021.

The Sooners didn't look like an NCAA Tournament team after losing two of their first three Big 12 series and starting 18-12. They've won 27 of 37, including 12 of 14 since the end of the regular season.

Sandlin, in his first season with the Sooners after transferring from a junior college, had pitched one-third of an inning of relief in the Sooners' 13-8 win over the Aggies on Friday. He was tagged for four runs.

The purpose of that appearance was to prepare Sandlin for the heightened atmosphere. It turned out to be a good plan. Sandlin said he had tried too hard in his brief appearance and took a different approach Wednesday.

"I just trusted my preparation," he said. "I feel like today was more muscle memory than anything else. Just going out there and he just executing, don't think about things too much."

Sandlin (9-4), who allowed five hits and walked one in his 100-pitch outing, effectively worked the outside half of the plate with a sharp slider and elevated fastball.

He struck out the first three batters he faced, five of the first eight and 10 of the first 20. He encountered trouble in the fourth inning when the first two batters reached base. He then fanned Troy Claunch, Brett Minnich and Jordan Thompson on 12 pitches.

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Oklahoma's Jimmy Crooks (3) runs the bases after hitting a three run homer in the first inning against Texas A&M during an NCAA College World Series baseball game Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/John Peterson)

"He is just able to mix all of his pitches," Claunch said. "He was able to get ahead early with fastballs, and then next time around was able to mix and kind of threw whatever he wanted whenever he wanted."

Texas A&M starter Ryan Prager (1-4) allowed four runs, three earned, in 2 1/3 innings. Jacob Palisch went the rest of the way, gave up three hits and a run and struck out eight.

The Aggies beat Texas and Notre Dame to reach the bracket final, but they couldn't score against Sandlin until Dylan Rock homered to left center leading off the sixth.

Sandlin then retired the last six batters he faced and turned the game over to closer Trevin Michael to start the eighth.

The Sooners led 3-0 in the first on Crooks' fourth of the NCAA Tournament, and ninth of the season, and added single runs in the third and fifth. OU has not trailed in its CWS games.

"They've proven over the last six, seven days they're the best team in our bracket — at least playing the best baseball," Schlossnagle said. "Very, very consistent starting pitching, defense, timely hits."

' Arkansas 3, Mississippi 2

Brady Slavens' home run to the deepest part of the park gave Arkansas the lead and the Razorbacks held on for the win after Mississippi loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the ninth inning.

The Hogs (46-20) forced a second bracket final against Ole Miss (39-23) on Thursday, with the winner advancing to play Oklahoma in the best-of-three championship round starting Saturday.

For eight innings, Arkansas all but shut down an offense that had produced 64 runs in its first seven NCAA Tournament games. Kemp Alderman, who hit a tying homer in the second inning, was the only Ole Miss runner to advance past first base to that point.

The Rebels loaded the bases in the ninth after closer Brady Tygart hit two straight batters.

Zack Morris, who had given up two runs in two-thirds of an inning in the Hogs' 13-5 loss to Ole Miss on Monday, came on and struck out pinch-hitter Hayden Leatherwood and got TJ McCants and Jacob Gonzalez to fly out to end the game.

With the game tied at 1 in the fifth, Slavens blasted John Gaddis' second pitch 436 feet to straightaway center into a light breeze. The only other players to homer to dead center since the CWS moved to Charles Schwab Field in 2011 were Florida's Pete Alonso (2015) and Florida State's Dylan Busby (2017).

The Hogs added a huge insurance run in the eighth. Cayden Wallace sent a ball down the left-field line for a double, getting his hand onto the bag just ahead of second baseman Peyton Chatagnier's tag attempt. The call was upheld on video review.

Michael Turner followed with a base hit that brought Wallace home. The Hogs had the bases loaded after the Rebels intentionally walked Slavens with first open, but Jack Dougherty struck out Slavens and pinch-hitter Kendall Diggs to end the inning.

Freshman lefty Hagen Smith (7-2) pitched five innings for his longest outing since he went six in an April 30 win over the Rebels. He allowed one run on two hits and four walks, and he struck out eight.

Evan Taylor allowed two hits and fanned four in three innings, leaving after Alderman singled leading off the ninth.

Gaddis (3-2), pitching for the first time since June 6 and making his first start since April 9, allowed two runs on four hits.

The teams traded home runs in the second. Chris Lanzilli went deep for the third time in the CWS and Alderman connected for the Rebels.

Lanzilli's homer barely cleared the fence in left center and bounced back onto the field. The homer was confirmed after a video review.

Lanzilli became the first player to hit three homers in a CWS since Michigan's Jimmy Kerr in 2019.

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Oklahoma's Jimmy Crooks (3) bumps helmets with Peyton Graham (20) and Blake Robertson (26) celebrating his three run homer in the first inning against Texas A&M during an NCAA College World Series baseball game Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/John Peterson)
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