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Oklahoma Baseball: Sooners Let Late Lead Slip Away, Lose CWS Finals to Ole Miss

Oklahoma battled to a 2-1 lead in the eighth inning, but couldn't hold on as the Rebels went for three runs to jump in front and win the game.

OMAHA – A memorable season comes to an end.

After dropping the first game of the College World Series finals on Saturday, Oklahoma looked to even things up in Game 2 on Sunday afternoon against Ole Miss at Charles Schwab Field.

But, on a day where the offense continued to struggle, the Sooners couldn’t quite recapture the magic that had carried them through the postseason - falling to the Rebels 4-2 to end their season. 


The second collision between Oklahoma and Ole Miss would see a good old fashioned pitchers duel, with Sooners right-hander Cade Horton and Rebels lefty Hunter Elliot trading scoreless innings through five. 

"I just stuck to what I've been doing the last few starts, and that was just taking it one pitch at a time," Horton said postgame. "I just wanted to put my team in a position to win and get ahead and throw strikes."

After over half a game of very little action on the basepaths, a circus broke out in a controversial top of the sixth.

With a runner on base and one out, OU left fielder Kendall Pettis struck out swinging - but the ball got away giving him enough time to reach first base.

Now with runners on first and third, John Spikerman laid down a bunt to squeeze the runner home.

Elliot fielded the ball and fired to first base, hitting Spikerman in the back of the leg and allowing the run to score easily. However, after review, it was ruled Spikerman was out of the basepath and interfered with the throw - meaning that the run had to come off the board with all runners returning to their original base, despite the play at first having no bearing on the run scoring. 

The Sooners ended up not scoring at all in the inning, leaving many Oklahoma fans frustrated with what felt like a huge momentum shift.

"That's what I also love about the game is the human element," head coach Skip Johnson said postgame despite the call hurting his team. "If we mess with the fabric of the game by getting computer umpires, I think I'll just go fishing."

Compounding the magnitude of the ruling, Ole Miss quickly took the lead in the bottom half of the inning with a solo home run by Jacob Gonzalez. The Rebels took a 1-0 edge into the late innings.

But, as they have all year, OU wasn’t about to go down without a fight.

In the seventh, with two outs and runners on first and second, freshman second baseman Jackson Nicklaus looped a ball into shallow left that found some grass and plated the tying run.

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After the pinch-hitting Sebastian Orduno was hit by a pitch, Pettis then drew a bases loaded walk to push across the leading run to have OU in front 2-1 at the stretch.

"They're going to fight," Johnson said. "That's one thing that they've done all year long. They've fought and they've fought and they've fought and they've battled and battled. That's a part of their DNA, and that's a part of what the University of Oklahoma has taught them to do and our culture has taught them how to do. I'm really proud of those guys." 

Horton finished his day working into the eighth inning allowing just two earned runs and striking out a career-high 13 hitters, saving his best for his final game of the year. 

"Just stick with my routines," Horton said about his success on Sunday. "Just make sure to take a deep breath every time before I deliver the pitch, and then if I didn't like the pitch or if, say, I got -- I thought it was a strike and it got called a ball, step off the mound and take a deep breath and lock back in."

But, the eighth inning would prove to be the Sooners' undoing.

After Horton allowed a one-out single, Johnson turned to his incredibly reliable closer Trevin Michael to try and finish the game.

But, for the first time in a long time, it was not Michael's day. 

The right-hander allowed two immediate hits with two wild pitches sprinkled in to allow three runs to score to vault the Rebels in front. 

After an incredible one year in Norman, Michael's brief OU career ended on an unfortunate sour note on Sunday. 

"(I told him) that I loved him and I wouldn't want to have anybody else out there," Johnson said about his message to Michael after the game. 

The Sooners then failed to score in the bottom of the ninth, ending the game with a 4-2 Ole Miss win. 

The loss drops Oklahoma to 45-24 to close the season with OU coming just two wins short of the program's third national title. 

Despite the incredible, and somewhat improbable, run the finals, Johnson assured postgame that the Sooners won't be satisfied with second place. 

"I wanted to win the national championship," Johnson said. "That's what my goal was. It'll continue to be my goal."

An interesting offseason now lies ahead for Oklahoma as they look to replace the key pieces that will move on to prepare for another run next season.