Big 12 Baseball: Cowboy Collapse

The old saying is turnabout is fair play. But when it comes to Bedlam baseball you can change that to "tourna (ment) bout" is fair play. For the second straight season the Cowboys swept Oklahoma in the three-game Bedlam series, but in a game that was strangely similar to the third game of the series a month ago, Oklahoma got its revenge over Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Tournament.

Back on May 6 in the Bricktown Ballpark the Sooners led the Cowboys 7-5 going into the bottom of the ninth. The first Cowboy in that ninth inning, catcher Ryan Pittman, walked and that started a three-run, game-winning rally that featured a throwing error to third by OU pitcher Garrett Richards. We reported then that as soon as the Cowboys had the lead-off man on it was as if OU knew what was about to happen and couldn't stop it.

Fast forward to Friday night at the Bricktown Ballpark. Cowboy starting pitcher Oliver Odle did exactly what he does best and that's make the other team hit the ball and put in in play so his defense can collect outs. Twice the Sooners loaded the bases early in the game only to score a single run thanks to a pair of double plays turned by the middle of the OSU defense.

Meanwhile, a first inning double by Tyler Mach and a single by Rebel Ridling led to a three-run first inning for Oklahoma State. Later in the sixth, a triple by Ty Wright, who went 3-for-5 at the plate and extended his consecutive game hitting streak to 33 games, and single by Mach and Matt Mangini extended the lead to 5-2. The Cowboys would go on to carry an 8-2 lead into the eighth inning. Odle was retired for the night giving up 10 hits but only two runs. It was up to reliable relievers Justin Friend and shortstop/closer Jordy Mercer to finish it up.

Friend gave up two runs in the eighth and OU was within four at 8-to-4 before Mercer came on to get the Cowboys out of the mess. Mercer, who has been a "Sooner Killa" since arriving in Stillwater last season as a freshman, was the winning pitcher in relief back on May 6 following that OSU comeback.

But Mercer was the losing pitcher Friday night in Oklahoma's bizarre comeback. Mercer sandwiched a strike out with a barrage of singles that loaded the bases. After a couple of runs were knocked in to make it 8-6. Mercer got a second out on a hard hit high hopper to second that just missed being a double play to end the game. Another RBI single made it 8-7. What happened next was something we've never seen happen with Mercer. First there was a pitch outside that catcher Ryan Flavell dove and blocked saving a run. But two more wild pitches followed, both going to the brick wall behind home plate allowing OU runners to sprint down the third-base line and score first the tying and then the winning run.

The mostly OSU crowd was stunned with the Sooners in the park cheering wildly and several screaming the dreaded words of "Sooner magic."

As difficult as that game was to stomach for Cowboys players, coaches, and fans, three streaks, one especially, have to be more alarming right now. The 9-8 loss, which eliminates the Cowboys from any chance of playing in the Big 12 Championship game, is their seventh loss in a row in the Big 12 Tournament. It was their seventh straight loss to Oklahoma in Big 12 Tournament play.

While the next number is just a "five" it has to be that streak that is most alarming. The Cowboys have lost five games in a row here at the end of the season. It is their longest losing streak of the year and the second longest losing streak by any Big 12 team this season. Oh, and the Cowboys, powered all season by the long ball, have hit just one home run in the last six games.

Hosting a regional has been out the window since the sweep by Missouri last weekend. Now staying somewhat close to home in a good situation is probably out of the question. Going somewhere like Rice or Vanderbilt for an NCAA regional may be entering the picture.

There is still a 5 p.m. game Saturday against also 0-2 Missouri. Somebody will break their losing streak before going to an NCAA regional. Maybe "tourna (ment) bout" being fair play will come into play with Missouri.

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