The University of Oklahoma baseball team advanced to Friday at the Big 12 Championship with a 13-7 win over Kansas State at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark on Thursday morning. The four seed Sooners move on with a record of 29-26-1, while the eight seed Wildcats end their season at 26-31.
Oklahoma will face the loser of this afternoon’s Texas Tech vs. West Virginia contest Friday at 3:15 pm.
“It was ‘back-to-the-wall day’ and you never know how your team is going to respond to that,” started head coach Pete Hughes. “I did. I know who we have in our clubhouse this year. I think it’s a special group. We all want to win more games, but as long as you’ve got the right character, you can handle a lot of things. Our guys came out with energy. They executed and didn’t get down or pack it in.”
The Sooners were in a quick, 2-0 hole after the first inning as K-State took advantage of two hit batsmen and a walk to plate a pair of runs on a two-out single by catcher Tyler Moore.
Oklahoma responded with a four-run top of the second. Junior shortstop Sheldon Neuse (Fort Worth, Texas) singled and junior first baseman Austin O’Brien (Owasso, Okla.) doubled to set the table. Neuse came in on a passed ball and junior left fielder Cody Thomas (Colleyville, Texas) drove in O’Brien with a double to left.
Junior catcher Renae Martinez (San Pedro, Calif.) then drew a walk and he and Thomas were sacrificed up a base. Thomas scored on a second passed ball and senior right fielder Alex Wise (Neosho, Mo.) added to the lead with a sacrifice-fly.
“We had some seniors and some veteran guys step up and give us a chance to win,” stated Hughes. “The story of the game was offense. Everything is easier when your offense is scoring. That’s the offense we’ve been
After manufacturing a four-spot in the second, the Sooner bats came to life for six runs in the third. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases with nobody out. K-State lefty Parker Rigler then got two harmless outs before running into trouble. Martinez ripped a RBI-single through the left side and sophomore second baseman Kyle Mendenhall(Carlsbad, Calif.) roped a two-run double past third to push the OU lead to 7-2. An intentional-walk loaded the bases again and Wise responded by drilling a bases-clearing triple to left-center to make it a 10-2 game.
Kansas State would make it a close game with a seventh-inning rally. The Wildcats sent all nine batters to the plate as it took four Sooner pitcher to get through the frame. K-State took advantage of three-consecutive walks to start the inning. Center fielder Clayton Dalrymple brought in two runs with a double into the left field corner and first baseman Jake Scudder added a two-out, two-run single bounced up the middle.
Rigler (4-9) took the loss in 2.2 innings for the Wildcats. He gave up eight runs, seven earned, on six hits and three walks to go with three strikeouts. Right-hander Brogan Heinen was the third K-State pitcher of the day and settled things down with 4.1-scoreless innings of one-hit ball.
In the top of the ninth, Wise lined a leadoff-double, his 16th of the year, and was sacrificed to third. He then scored as freshman designated hitter Steele Walker (Prosper, Texas) beat a drawn-in infield with a single ripped through the right side. The Sooners got two more runs across on a RBI-single from O’Brien and Thomas’ second double of the game.
Oklahoma will turn to freshman right-hander Dylan Grove (Oklahoma City) in Friday’s elimination game.
last 15 games. It helps Alec pitch more relaxed.”
On the mound, junior right-hander Alec Hansen (Loveland, Colo.) settled in after seeing two Wildcats reach in the second with back-to-back strikeouts. He saw just one baserunner reach against him over the next four innings. Hansen (3-5) pitched six innings and went into the seventh before being lifted after a pair of walks. He struck out seven and allowed four runs on three hits and five walks.
“Alec wasn’t as good as has been in his last couple starts, but he’s one of the few guys in our program that has enough stuff to pitch out of trouble,” Hughes said of Hansen’s start. “I love watching him battle through it because I think he’s at a different place than he was a month ago.”