ARLINGTON, Texas — The Oklahoma Sooners defeated the Kansas State Wildcats, 4-3, in the second game of Saturday’s play at the Philips 66 2022 Big 12 Baseball Tournament. Here are three thoughts from the game.
Let’s NOT Play Two
That must have been Oklahoma’s mantra going into this one, especially after watching Oklahoma State pummel Texas, 8-1, in the day’s first game, to force another game between the Cowboys and Longhorns later this evening.
Oklahoma never quite looked comfortable, though, between scattering hits on Kansas State starter Griffin Hassall and giving up a couple of early runs and falling behind the Wildcats, 2-1. But in the bottom of the sixth the Sooners finally grabbed control of the game. All it took was finally chasing off Hassall.
After Oklahoma’s Blake Robertson singled and Tanner Treadway doubled to lead off the sixth, the Wildcats had no choice but to go to the bullpen. Dylan Phillips came into pitch and he had a solid 2.60 earned run average in a little over 17 innings of relief.
But one hit was all it took to give the Sooners the lead, and that hit was a double by Jimmy Crooks that went to center field and scored both runners to make it 3-2 Sooners.
That Peyton Graham home run in the seventh inning wasn’t superfluous, either. It gave the Sooners some much-needed cushion. You’ll see in a minute.
No Quit in K-State
It’s hard to believe the Wildcats were eight games under .500 in Big 12 Conference play and finished the season with a .500 record, considering how they played their last two games. The Wildcats defeated Texas Tech in 11 innings on Friday night, executing a sacrifice bunt followed by a suicide squeeze bunt to take the lead and eventually win that game.
Then, on Saturday, the Wildcats kept gutting. Hassall, who entered the game with a losing record, kept the Sooners off-balance half of the game. Heads-up base-running by Cole Johnson took advantage of a single by Justin Mitchell and a throwing error and allowed him to score to tie the game. Dominic Hughes, ejected late from Friday’s win, was hit by a pitch in the fifth. He then stole second, advanced to third on a Kaelen Culpepper single and then scored on a Cash Rugley single.
In the eighth, K-State was at it again. Rugley singled, later followed by Nick Goodwin’s walk. Then Johnson poked a single through the left side of the infield to score Rugley and cut Oklahoma’s lead to 4-3.
Everything the Wildcats have done the past two games screamed ‘play baseball the right way.’ But, on Saturday, there were no more tricks left in the bag.
For Oklahoma, it will face the winner of the Oklahoma State-Texas game on Sunday at 5 p.m. central for the Big 12 Tournament crown. In case you’re wondering, the Sooners went 2-2 against the Cowboys this season, while the Sooners went 1-2 against the Longhorns. All three of those games were at Globe Life Field.
Matthew Postins can be found on Twitter @PostinsPostcard