Seniors Lead Ninth Inning Rally to Series Win

NORMAN, Okla. — Head coach Sunny Golloway called his right fielder up Saturday night and had a few words for him.

"I told him, ‘You're not going to be in the lineup tomorrow," Golloway said. "And he said, ‘Okay, coach.' He was disappointed and I said, ‘I want you to get over the disappointment tonight, come to the yard. The other players are going to be looking at you. You're a senior, and I want you to have good character about you. I know that you will. And I respectfully am telling you this tonight so that you have a chance to get over the disappointment.'

"And he said, ‘Coach, are you giving up on me?' I said, ‘Oh, no. Not by a long shot. Your time will come. I don't know when. The game will dictate when your time will come. Be ready when your time comes.'"

That time came less than 24 hours after that conversation.

With OU trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning and a runner on first base, Golloway turned to his benched right fielder for a designated hitter.

Reine delivered.

The 5-foot-11, 220-pound senior smashed the first pitch he saw into the right center gap and first baseman Hunter Lockwood raced around third to score and tie it at three apiece.

"You know, I've been through a lot of ups and downs lately, so I mean, I just tried to stay into the game the whole time," Reine said. "And I knew their guy was going to try to get it with a fastball. He's been doing it a lot today. Their pitchers are really good at getting ahead, so it was just a pitch that I've been working on hitting, been missing it a lot lately and that time I was just able to square it up and I saw the ball really well."

One batter later, Golloway pinch hit with yet another recently slumping Sooner senior, Evan Mistich.

Mistich delivered with the game-winning hit to center, scoring Reine and capping off a 4-3 Sunday afternoon come-from-behind victory over the Kansas State Wildcats.

"Oh man, that was a fun one right there, huh?" Mistich said. "I think that's a spot like anybody on our team wants to be in, but I just got a pitch I could handle. Didn't try and really do too much, put an okay swing on it and it ended up falling through for me."

Just like that, a game and a series that looked like it was going to fall through for the Sooners, fell right into place.

Instead of staring a 3-6 Big 12 record in the face, the Sooners are back within a game of .500 in conference play.

And they've improved their record from 13-10 just over a week ago to 18-11 a few days later.

"Well, it was huge," Golloway said. "There's no doubt about it. It was huge."

Even more so, considering the Sooners were dominated at the plate by Kansas State pitching for most of the way.

Starter Kayvon Bahramzadeh carried a perfect game into the fifth inning.

After the Sooners finally got to him and tied it up in the fifth, they didn't record another hit until the eighth and only had three of their six hits up until the ninth inning.

Bahramzadeh fanned 11 in six innings and the Wildcat relievers struck out three more, totaling 14 on the day.

"You know, they pitched really well," Golloway said. "We were struggling. I think what was going on with our team offensively is just the pressure of the game."

Until the ninth inning, when the pressure really got turned up.

That's when Golloway turned to his leadership, and his leadership stepped up.

"What happened today is after the call to Cody Reine and after the senior meeting with Evan Mistich, the game rewarded them," Golloway said. "It rewarded two seniors. It doesn't always do that, so honestly I'm just sitting here telling the game, ‘Thank you.'"

So are the rest in that Crimson and Cream dugout.

A pair of RBI doubles, one each in the second and third innings, allowed Kansas State to leap out to the early 2-0 advantage it enjoyed.

First, left fielder Jon Davis smoked a shot to the right center gap, scoring third baseman R.J. Santigate, who earlier reached on a walk.

Then, right fielder Tanner Witt followed suit in the following inning, plating second baseman Ross Kivett on his double.

"You know, their team was getting some key hits yesterday and today," Golloway said. "I mean, they get a guy in scoring position and they get a hit. And it was pretty amazing. We weren't getting those hits with two outs with men in scoring position."

Meanwhile, Bahramzadeh dealt that perfection into the fifth.

But center fielder Max White broke it up with a walk, and Lockwood pasted a double to the left center gap moments later.

Left fielder Brian Brightwell skied a sacrifice fly to center to get OU on the board, and a wild pitch allowed Lockwood to score and OU to tie it at two apiece.

The Wildcats tagged Sooner starter Jonathan Gray for one more in the seventh to regain the lead it would ultimately surrender in the final at bat.

Davis hammered his second double of the day and scored on shortstop Jake Brown's slicing two-bagger a batter later, making it 3-2.

That set up the heroics for Reine and Mistich off Wildcat reliever Nate Williams, who fell to 0-2 with the loss.

"It was awesome," Mistich said. "That's something I'm never going to forget about wearing this uniform."

OU pitcher Steven Okert improved to 4-3 with the win, throwing two innings of scoreless relief.

Lockwood led a mostly stagnant, yet timely OU offense with his 2-for-4 performance and two runs scored.

The Sooners get back to action at 6:35 p.m. CT Thursday in College Station, Texas, with the start of a three-game set against Texas A&M.

Follow me at twitter.com/joeyhelmer10 or facebook.com/joeyhelmer.


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