By JOHN SHINN
NORMAN — The last time Adam Choplick released a pitch in an actual game his world turned upside down. It was the summer of 2011 and just as he let the ball go, a sharp and distinctive pain shot through his left elbow. That pain signaled a torn ligament.
Fast-forward through Tommy John’s surgery and 15 months of rehab, he toed the rubber in a game for the first time since the injury Tuesday at L. Dale Mitchell Park against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
The butterflies were churning through his stomach, but not because of the game.
“With all the work everyone has put into me behind the scenes, it’s really been a pleasure to go out there and show them their time wasn’t wasted; that I can still go out there and do my best and that everything still works,” he said.
It wasn’t for naught. Choplick, threw five predetermined innings of one-hit, one-run ball that kick-started a 4-2, 11-1, doubleheader sweep for the Sooners.
The victories lifted OU to 6-0. What’s important was that they came with the knowledge that Choplick is physically ready to join the pitching arsenal that’s carried OU through the hot start.
The only damage Arkansas-Pine Bluff (2-4) imposed on the 6-foot-8 redshirt freshman came on an unearned run in the second inning. He struck out six and didn’t issue a walk or hit a batter and threw 65 pitches.
“It was amazing how much poise he showed out there,” OU coach Sunny Golloway said. “You have to be thinking about a lot things because the last time he pitched competitively, something popped.”
Choplick thought about that, too. The mind can really wander when you haven’t done something in a year and half. There had been bullpen sessions and a couple of appearances in intrasquad games, but Tuesday was the first time it was real.
“Everything kind of came together,” Choplick said. “Being out there on the mound really helped. It was a confidence boost.”
The Sooners put up three in the third inning to help pull away. Matt Oberste, Kolbey Carpenter and Hunter Haley each collected two hits for OU.
Mikey Ramirez took the loss in the opener. He allowed three runs on eight hits.
Game 2 didn’t offer the same intrigue. The Sooners erupted for 12 hits with four going for extra bases in the 10-run victory. Oberste went 4 for 8 on the day and busted Game 2 open with a three-run fifth inning.
Dillon Overton (2-0) actually got the win in the finale. OU’s ace entered in the fifth inning to throw his weekly bullpen. He actually gave up his first run of the season.
Drew Krittenbrink threw four innings of shutout ball to start things out. Since his innings weren’t predetermined, he did not pitch enough innings to get the victory.
Didier Landry (0-1) took the loss. He allowed two runs on two hits over two innings. The teams combined to use nine pitchers in the game.
The Sooners had to save their pitching for their first road trip of the season. They face Iowa at 2 p.m., Saturday in the Kleburg Bank College Classic at Whataburger Field. They face Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Saturday and New Mexico on Sunday.