NORMAN — Expanding the Bedlam baseball series beyond the three-game Big 12 Conference series in May started four years ago. At the time, both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State wanted to bring the rivalry to their home ballparks.
Rain prevented last season’s non-conference meeting. At 6 p.m. tonight at L. Dale Mitchell Park, the Sooners (20-9) and the Cowboys (19-9) will try again.
However, this is the first of two non-conference meetings between the teams. OU will visit Allie Reynolds Stadium in Stillwater on April 15.
Enjoy the five regular-season meetings while they last. OU coach Pete Hughes admitted before the season began and reiterated on Monday that familiarity with a rival can breed apathy.
“I don’t know that we need to play them five times. I don’t like to play anyone five times, no one does,” he said, “but I do love the fact that one game out of the year we can bring it to each other’s campus to promote college baseball to the community, to promote college baseball to the specific campuses and in the state in general.”
The Sooners and Cowboys have always drawn sizable crowds for the neutral site series that will include two games at ONEOK Field in Tulsa and a single game at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City in May.
Getting a big crowd at the home park was the original instigator for the midweek games. However, another reason emerged in the last two seasons.
There’s no doubt the Big 12 Conference has lost some stature in college baseball’s Rating Percentage Index since Texas A&M and Missouri departed for the SEC.
Last season, the league only had three teams — OU, OSU and Kansas State — in the NCAA baseball tournament field. The league’s teams could no longer bank on at-large bids based on an above .500 conference record alone.