The Sooners won in one of the strangest ways imaginable Friday afternoon, as left fielder Max White raced home on a bases-loaded, swinging strike passed ball in the bottom of the 12th, extending their winning streak to eight games with a 3-2 victory over the TCU Horned Frogs at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
"Yeah, you know what? And you kinda thought that maybe that might happen," said OU head coach Sunny Golloway on his team's fifth walk-off victory this year. "But again, we talked about this in the 15-inning game and I'm gonna repeat myself: if you keep putting pressure on your opponent, at some point good things are gonna happen. We had men in scoring position pretty much throughout the extra innings."
What set the table for the game-winner was both expected and unexpected and also fitting.
With Jonathan Gray on the mound preserving a one-run lead in the ninth shortly after first baseman Matt Oberste brought home the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth, it looked as if his 26-game hitting streak would stop one game short of the club record.
But Gray, who fanned 12 TCU hitters, found himself in some trouble in the ninth inning after a pair of hits and a passed ball; third baseman Jantzen Witte's sacrifice fly cashed in a run to tie it at 2-2 and send it to extras.
Fast forward to the 12th and, after White singled to lead off the frame, Oberste, OU's hottest hitter in quite some time, carried an 0-for-4 with him to the plate and appeared poised to bunt, but then laced a 1-0 offering into left center to put runners at the corners with nobody out and tie former Sooner Marty Neff's all-time mark.
"You know what? That's in the stars right there," Golloway said. "I can't explain it. I can't. And then when I go fake bunt, I mean, I'm getting some boos in the stands from [the crowd]. I was disappointed in that. I mean, our fans gotta understand it's about our program, not about one guy. But we weren't gonna bunt, but we wanted them to think we were gonna bunt.
So, we go bunt and I don't care if they throw a strike or a ball there. If they're thinking bunt, he's more likely to get a good pitch to hit. And when they threw a ball, it was just perfect. I mean, we couldn't have drawn it [up any better] because they're thinking he might drag, he might push. And then bam."
It was a moment that afterwards brought second baseman Jack Mayfield to throw shaving cream in his face.
"I wasn't trying to do anything big," Oberste said of the record-tying hit. "I was just trying to get Max in scoring position, and he did a great job of protecting me because if he would have got out there, they might have intentionally walked me. So, he did a good job of getting on, and I was just fortunate enough for that."
OU took the early 1-0 lead in this contest when left fielder Hunter Haley hit an RBI single into center in the bottom of the second.
The Sooners then cruised for a while behind starter Jonathan Gray until TCU finally got to him in the top of the sixth.
A pair of hits allowed left fielder Boomer White to come through with a sacrifice fly that tied the game.
OU regained the lead on first baseman Matt Oberste's RBI groundout in the bottom of the eighth before TCU notched things up to send it to extras and ultimately chase Gray with a no-decision.
Nonetheless, Gray exited after surrendering just an earned run through nine complete. He walked just one.
"Terrific," Golloway said. "I mean, Gray speaks volumes."
Horned Frogs starter Preston Morrison distanced eight innings, allowing two earned runs on nine hits and three walks, while striking out three.
Reliever Ethan Carnes earned the win after throwing a scoreless 12th inning, while TCU's Alex Young suffered the loss, giving up an earned run on two hits and a walk.
White led the OU offense with three hits in five trips to the plate, while four other Sooners finished with a pair of hits.
No one for TCU finished with more than one hit.
OU (20-4, 1-0 Big 12) attempts to go for the series victory when the two meet at 2 p.m. CT Saturday.