The University of Oklahoma baseball team will need to go through the loser’s bracket at the Big 12 Championship following a 6-0 loss to West Virginia at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark on Wednesday morning. The Sooners managed just two hits and could not overcome a six-run deficit through five as they dropped to 28-26-1 on the season.
Oklahoma, the five seed, squandered an opportunity to score in the top of the first. Senior right fielder Alex Wise(Neosho, Mo.) hit a leadoff-double and advanced to third on a sacrifice-bunt. On the play, WVU right-handed starter Michael Grove was injured fielding the bunt and was removed from the game. Lefty Ross Vance came on and struck out on and then got a groundball out up the middle following an intentional-walk to junior shortstop Sheldon Neuse (Fort Worth, Texas).
“Kind of a crazy day, the way it started,” opened head coach Pete Hughes. “I talked about energy, tempo and urgency. Alex gets us going first pitch of the game. As fate would have it, the last time they replaced a pitcher against us in the first inning; it worked out really well for them. You’ve got to give Vance a ton of credit. He came in, kept the ball down and really managed out offense.”
Freshman right-hander Jake Irvin (Bloomington, Minn.) left a man in scoring position in the first and then left the bases loaded in the second with back-to-back called strike threes. The Mountaineers (34-21) then broke through with a two-out rally in the third. Irvin issued a walk and gave up a single as WVU got its offense in motion. Second baseman Cole Austin then singled through the left side with his second hit of the day to plate a run.
The Sooners came within inches of tying the game in the top of the fourth. Neuse was issued a one-out walk after being down 0-2 in the count. Junior designated hitter Cody Thomas (Colleyville, Texas) then doubled down the left field line and Neuse attempted to score from first, but was thrown out on a bang-bang plat at the plate, 7-6-2.
“We weren’t banging the balls off the wall so you make them make a play to tie the game,” said Hughes of Neuse being out at the plate. “They made a play and threw us out. That was the time of the game where we needed to tie the game up and make a play.”
West Virginia then put up a big four-run inning in the fourth. Back-to-back bunt-singles set up a three-run home run to straight away center by designated hitter Kyle Davis. The Mountaineers followed with a walk, a single and a RBI-groundout to tack on another.
Irvin (6-2) took the loss in 3.2 innings for Oklahoma. He surrendered five runs on eight hits and four walks with two strikeouts. Vance (7-3) went 8.2 innings in relief to get the win. In a meeting between the two sides in Norman last month, Grove went 8.2-scoreless out of the pen for a WVU win. Vance struck out seven, allowed one hit and three walks on 99 pitches.
The Sooners will play the 9:00 am game again tomorrow in an elimination match-up with the loser between top-seed Texas Tech and Kansas State.