OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma bats never got going at the Big 12 Tournament.
Facing elimination and likely the end of their season against the Texas Longhorns, the anemic Sooner offense lost 4-1 on Thursday at Bricktown Ballpark.
Dealing with a quick turnaround after their tournament opener against Oklahoma State ended at approximately 1 a.m., the Sooners were pleased with the energy they brought to the game from the jump.
"We get home at about (1:30 a.m.), gotta decompress, get some food, and probably got to bed about 3:30," head coach Skip Johnson said after the loss. "We had some energy.
"We put a lot of balls in play really hard. I was really proud of our guys for that."
An RBI single from second baseman Conor McKenna in the top of the third inning to plate Peyton Graham and tie the game at 1-1 was OU's only run of the day.
Texas tried to give the Sooners a lifeline, too, by walking nine batters and hitting another two/ Oklahoma was unable to take advantage of all the free runners on the base paths.
Oklahoma ended the day 2-for-12 with runners on and stranded six baserunners .
While the Longhorns weren’t much better, hitting just 3-for-15 with runners on, they were timely. All three of their hits with runners on base resulted in RBIs, ultimately the difference between the two teams.
After Texas scored two runs off OU starter Braden Carmichael, Wyatt Olds entered the game and gave the Sooners a chance to work their way back into the game.
The redshirt sophomore struck out 11 in five innings, limiting the free bases to just two walks and one hit batter. Texas was able to score a run on Olds off of two hits.
"He was really in control of himself. His last three our four outings have been like that, really smooth and in control," Johnson said. "That's the growth we like to see happen in our program. A lot of these guys, if they were ready-made, they wouldn't even get to school with the stuff that he has. So that's the growth in our program and what we continue to do."
Oklahoma’s last chance at a rally came in the top of the seventh inning.
Shortstop Brandon Zaragoza battled to a full-count walk to start off the inning. Kendall Pettis struck out, but then catcher Justin Mitchell got ahead in the count 2-0. A walk would have brought Graham to the plate with runners on first and second and only one out, with Graham batting 4-for-7 and two RBIs in tournament play.
Instead, Texas pitcher Tristan Stevens worked the count full, and the Sooners failed spectacularly on a hit-and-run, resulting in Mitchell striking out and Zaragoza being thrown out at second by a few steps to end the inning.
OU entered the weekend on the outside looking in of most NCAA Tournament projections, and their two-and-out performance in Oklahoma City will do them no favors.
Oklahoma combined for only 10 hits and six runs across their two games in tournament play, with most of the production against the Cowboys coming in the top of the ninth inning.
Eliminated from Big 12 Tournament contention, Oklahoma now sits idle until Monday, where the the Sooners will officially learn if their season comes to an end at the hands of the NCAA Selection Committee.
Johnson still said there was a case to be made for his team due to the strength of the Big 12 Conference.
"If our conference has three of the top eight seeds or three teams (hosting regionals), it would be pretty advisable to see five or six teams get in," he said. "We played pretty good baseball today. Yesterday we didn't play as good, we started kind of getting a little bit better as we went through it.
"In a regional setting, I think we have a chance to hit somebody in the mouth."
If this was the final game for Oklahoma’s 2021 campaign, the Sooners will end with a record of 27-28.