Cowboys Have Complete Bedlam Collapse

OKLAHOMA CITY – If hosting an NCAA Regional next weekend was riding on Saturday's Big 12 Tournament version of Bedlam then be prepared to hear Norman called out Sunday afternoon when the selection committee names the 16 regional hosts. The best thing that could happen for the OSU Cowboys is if the results of Saturday's game reach the NCAA Baseball Tournament Committee by Pony Express.

What Oklahoma did in this battle of 0-2 teams in the tournament's pool play was undo the frustration of being swept by the Cowboys in the regular season with an offensive barrage helped along by Cowboy mistakes on the mound and in the field.

Offense has been pretty consistent for the Cowboys throughout the season, but during the successful late season run it was starting pitching going deep - often complete games - and sterling defense backing up the effort of the arms. However, in the Big 12 Tournament - with previous losses to Missouri 9-5 and Kansas 11-6 - both had become suspect at best. Against the revenge-minded Sooners it was a complete early game collapse.

In the top of the first O-State starter Brae Wright (8-2) gave up back to back singles to Chuckie Caulfield and Russell Raley, then after Ryan Rohlinger popped out to catcher Matt Clarkson, Wright plunked back to back Sooners in Kody Kaiser and Aaron Reza. Reza was hit with the bases loaded forcing in Caulfield with the first run of the game. Big 12 Player of the Year and third baseman Tyler Mach booted a Kevin Smith ground ball leading to another run. Oklahoma secured a 3-0 first inning lead when Brandon Moss hit a sacrifice fly to deep center scoring Kaizer.

Unfortunately, for the two-thirds of Oklahoma State fans that made up the crowd of 8,500 that was just the beginning. Cowboys head coach Frank Anderson didn't want to pull Wright early knowing how awful the bullpen has been of late, but the events that transpired in the top of the third gave him no choice.

Oklahoma had just been embarrassed on Friday as they were run-ruled 11-0 by Missouri, so they were more than eager to return the favor to their Bedlam rival. In the third Rohlinger opened the frame with a single and then after a Kaizer fly out to center, Mach committed his second error of the game as he was eaten up by Reza's sharp grounder to third. A Kevin Smith sacrifice fly ball scored Rohlinger and the Cowboys had two outs. The next play was key as Brandon Moss hit a ground ball that shortstop Jordy Mercer made a good play on. The freshman, who has struggled throughout the Big 12 Tournament, then had a case of indecision as to whether to toss the ball to second baseman Shelby Ford for the force or throw to first. With the timing of the play off, he opted to run and tag the base and was too late. Reza scored on the play and the Sooners took full advantage of the extra out with five straight base hits topped off by Caulfield's two-run triple in the left field gap to the deepest part of the ball park. Rohlinger, batting for the second time in the inning, added a two-run home run over the left field wall. When the damage was complete the Cowboys were behind an unforgiving score of 11-0. most of the runs were unearned, but the inning still chased Wright out of the game.

Oklahoma starter Daniel McCutchen had all the support he needed as he was able to relax and front run the rest of the way. After Kevin Smith hit a solo homer off OSU reliever Dusty Barnard in the top of the fourth, in the bottom half of the frame the Cowboy bats showed signs of life as Ty Wright walked, Shelby Ford singled, and first baseman Rebel Ridling hit his second home run of the season into the bleachers in left. The brief rally made it 12-3.

Oklahoma wasn't going to slip up and let the Cowboys back in the game as the stunned O-State fans watched OU strike for three more runs in the top of the fifth. Ryan Rohlinger added to his single and home run in the third by delivering a two-run triple. It was the second time an OU hitter had a line drive in the gap find the deepest part of the ball park. Rohlinger later scored on a single by Reza. After five it was 15-4 with Kansas and Missouri both unbeaten and playing for a shot in Sunday's title game ready to take the field for warm-ups.

Oklahoma finished out the game adding six runs to win 21-6. It was the most runs OSU has given up to Oklahoma dating back to March 31, 1985, and a 21-3 loss to OU. It also tied the most runs given up in the Frank Anderson era with a 21-5 loss to Southern Miss in 2004. It may have been a record for most unearned runs ever allowed by an OSU team (14), but that research was not readily available The Sooners finished the first year of pool play in the Big 12 postseason at 1-2 and 40-19 on the season. Oklahoma State went 0-3 in pool play as the top seed in pool two. The Cowboys slipped to 39-18 with their recent three-game losing streak.

Oklahoma State's portion of the post-game press conference was not as dismal as you might imagine. While not excited with the results, Anderson did not panic or rail on his players. You get the feeling Anderson knows his club is on a fine line and when they do things right they have a chance to win. When they don't, with the lack of bullpen material, it can get ugly.

"We didn't play very well defensively," Anderson said thinking of his team's four errors and several mental errors that didn't show up on the scoreboard. "We booted some balls around and that didn't allow us to hang in there. I didn't think Brae pitched all that bad. Fourteen unearned runs, I think that is the most unearned runs ever in a game I've been involved in."

As for the regional, during the game there were reports that Oklahoma State was still in the running with the committee despite a shortage of hotel rooms next weekend in Stillwater due to events like the Oklahoma Junior Cattleman's Association Show, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame annual inductions, and a Sigma Chi fraternity convention. After the game a shortage of hotel rooms next weekend was the least of the Cowboys worries. More than likely, they will be calling Travelocity and looking for a cure to the pitching and defensive woes before departing for an NCAA Regional hosted by somebody else.

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