An amazing half inning gives way to a disastrous Sooner loss at Big 12 tournament
The season still in the balance, Oklahoma faces Oklahoma State at 6:30 tonight
If Oklahoma won, I knew how I’d begin.
I’d begin with the top of the fourth inning, in their second game of the Big 12 tournament late Thursday night in Arlington, Texas, having topped Bedlam rival Oklahoma State the day before, when the Sooners gloriously scored two runs as only they can, pushing their edge over Texas Tech to five.
Only they didn’t win.
Second baseman Jackson Nicklaus blew it with two errors in the bottom of the fourth that led to four unearned runs and the Sooner bullpen blew it, too, Will Karsten allowing two runs in the space of four outs and Brandon Douthit giving away a shot at sweet redemption one week after walking four, plunking three and allowing eight earned runs over three innings as the week-earlier starter in a Bedlam series opening 11-run loss to OSU.
And still, that top of the fourth was so much fun, I’ve got to hit it first before explaining how OU’s 10-9 walk-off loss may wind up being the final failure keeping it out of the NCAA’s field of 64.
The Sooners like to call what they do offensively “chaos” and what they mean by that is they make pitchers work, make pitchers throw strikes, make pitchers throw a lot of pitches; once on base, they like to steal bases and they do it all the time, and when they’re not running, you think they will so they’re still a distraction; nor do they mind sacrificing or putting the ball in play any old way, making the defense makes plays because what it’s really about is relentlessness.
Baseball can be a station-to-station game, a wait-for-a-three-run-homer game, but OU likes to throw a wrench into every facet of the game it can, wearing out opposing pitchers and the defenses behind them.
In the top of the fourth, after Diego Muniz and Wallace Clark grounded out, it looked like it would be a nothing inning against Tech starter Taber Fast.
But neither Muniz nor Clark quickly grounded out. Muniz made his out only after a nine-pitch at bat. Clark made his after a seven-pitch at bat. Next, Nicklaus singled, John Spikerman worked Fast into a full-count before walking and, overtaxed in the frame, Fast proved it walking Kendal Pettis on four pitches.
That brought up Bryce Madron and I’m going to tell you what he did before I explain it: Madron knocked in two with an infield single.
Is that possible?
Have you ever heard of such a thing?
Here’s how it happened:
It happened because, of course, Madron had worked the count full.
It happened because Fast, so whipped by the inning OU had put him through, did not even see Madron’s razor sharp shot up the first-base line had been heroically knocked down by Kevin Bazzell. Instead, Fast, a lefty, upon releasing the pitch, fell to the third-base side of the mound, allowed that momentum carry him into a position his back was to home plate and not until turning his whole body around and looking toward first did he realize he was supposed to be covering the bag.
Bazzell picked the ball up quickly, but too far beyond the base to force out Madron, he threw home instead, long after Spikerman had crossed and not quickly enough to make it close as Nicklaus crossed.
How does runner at second score so easily on a hard hit ball to first?
The count full, two out and the bases loaded, all three Sooners were running on the pitch and that, friends, is coach Skip Johnson’s brand of Sooner baseball.
Too bad the loss may keep OU out of the NCAA postseason.
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