“I think today was unfortunate for us,” said OU head coach Sunny Golloway. “Kansas State played really well, and we have to come back tomorrow and fight hard. We understand the losers’ bracket is going to be a long road but we're going to have the pitching to be able to do it if we just play well."
But the fact of the matter is OU will have to play behind the eight ball again, like they have a lot this season after surrendering close losses.
"It's just another one-run loss,” Golloway said. “We've had a bunch of them this year. We just have to finish games. Our starting pitching hasn't been good for a couple weeks now and we haven't finished games on the pitching side and we haven't been able to score runs. That's not the ingredients to win ball games."
The pitching issues started early, with the aid of some problems in the field.
With two outs and runners on first and second in the top of the second, it appeared the Sooners would get out of the inning when KSU catcher Dan Klein rolled up a fairly routine ball to shortstop Caleb Bushyhead.
But Bushyhead couldn’t field it cleanly for the fielder’s choice at second, instead allowing the ball to skate past him into center field.
“A booted ground ball with bases loaded and the guys are getting on a certain way, too,” Golloway said. “We don't blame our shortstop for booting the ball; it's a play that he routinely makes but he didn't in this case. He came back and made some plays for us after that."
Third baseman Jason King, who doubled to lead off the inning, scored on the play to make it 1-0 Wildcats, while shortstop Tanner Witt moved up to third.
He later scored on an RBI single by second baseman Jake Brown.
Designated hitter Ross Kivett chased Sooner starter Michael Rocha when he brought in Klein, and it was 3-0 KSU at the time.
However, reliever Jordan John, who threw seven innings and gave up just one run, came in and slammed the door shut on a bases loaded opportunity after allowing an infield single, and the Sooners stormed back an inning-and-a-half later.
"When I came into the game I was just able to hit my spots, paint corners and mix my offspeed well and throw them for strikes,” John said. “They put the ball in play where our defense could make plays on it. My defense played well behind me and got outs for me."
Center fielder Erik Ross led off the bottom of the third with a single to second, and second baseman Cale Ellis followed up with a bunt single.
After leadoff man and designated hitter Drew Harrison laid down a successful sacrifice bunt, catcher Tyler Ogle smashed a two-run single up the middle, bringing home Ross and Ellis to cut the deficit to 3-2.
Right fielder Ricky Eisenberg then recorded the Sooners’ second bunt single of the inning, advancing Ogle to second.
And first baseman Cameron Seitzer took care of the next scoring opportunity, putting one through the right side and plating Ogle to tie the game.
Eisenberg stole home when Seitzer purposely got caught up between first and second, and the Sooners seized the 4-3 lead after three.
OU led by that margin until KSU tied it up in the top of the seventh on an RBI groundout by left fielder Kent Urban that scored Brown.
The Sooners had a golden chance to reclaim the lead in the bottom of the eighth after Ogle pasted a double to the right field corner, and third baseman Garrett Buechele moved him over to third on a groundout to first.
But Ogle was thrown out at the plate on a 6-2 fielder’s choice putout off the bat of Eisenberg.
Eisenberg was then caught stealing to end the inning.
"Some things go differently in the game and we win,” Ogle said. “Little things, just playing like we know how to play it just didn't turn out that way today, we just have to get better."
It was a complete momentum shift.
Klein singled with one out in the ninth and advanced to second on a passed ball by John.
He advanced to third on a groundout, and then head coach Sunny Golloway decided it was time to go to closer Ryan Duke.
But after falling behind 3-0 in the count, Duke left a 3-2 pitch over the middle of the plate that Kivett ripped into left field for the go-ahead base hit.
OU had the tying run on in the bottom of the ninth, but could not push it across.
Despite allowing just that one earned run, John (4-1) took the loss, while Evan Marshall (1-0) picked up the win for the Wildcats.
Ogle led the way for the Sooners with a 3-for-4 performance that included a pair of RBI’s and a run scored.
Kivett was 4-for-5 with two RBI’s of his own.
The Sooners now fall to a loser’s bracket game against Texas Tech at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, while the Wildcats will face Texas A&M in the winner’s bracket at 7:30 p.m.
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