Sooners knocked off by Tigers in Big 12 Title

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Sooners fell just short of their hopes of the program's first Big 12 Tournament Championship in 15 years, as they lost 8-7 to the Missouri Tigers in Sunday's conference title game at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.

"I know it's been since '97," said OU head coach Sunny Golloway. "Nobody wanted it more than we did. I promise you. I didn't sleep last night. I wanted it for our university. I wanted it for our program, wanted it for our fans."

And they had a chance in the ninth.

Pinch hitter Chase Simpson hit what looked like a potential game-tying hit to right with two outs in the bottom of the ninth as pinch runner Dustin Dishman came around third and tried to score, but before that, the hit unfortunately ricocheted off shortstop Caleb Bushyhead to end the game.

"You know what, I guess the ball hit Caleb Bushyhead's heel and no fault of his," said OU head coach Sunny Golloway. "He's just digging hard trying to get to a bag knowing that he's going to be the go-ahead run if he can get to third base on that play and just one of those things that happens. So, it's one of those games where we've got to tip our cap."

The Sooners, though, battled back to even put themselves in a position to win.

Trailing 7-2 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, they got to work.

First baseman Evan Mistich ripped a two-out, two-run single into right center, and center fielder Max White, who earlier reached on a fielder's choice, scored on a wild pitch.

That made it 7-5 heading into the sixth, where OU did even more damage.

Third baseman Garrett Carey, who finished 2-for-4 on the day, singled back through the box to tie the game, scoring Bushyhead and designated hitter Matt Oberste.

But moments later, Carey was gunned down rounding second on left fielder Erik Ross' single.

He would have advanced to third with one out after a walk to the next batter and scored on White's deep flyout to center, but as it was, it ended the inning.

OU again had a chance to take the lead in the seventh, but Bushyhead was thrown out at the plate on Oberste's double to end the inning.

That left the door open for Missouri to take the lead in the eighth.

The Tigers loaded the bases and scored on a double play induced by Sooner reliever Jake Fisher, who actually got out of the inning surrendering just the one run.

Still, though, Missouri seized an opportunity to get back on top after blowing a five-run lead.

"I got to start by tipping our cap to Coach [Tim] Jamieson and the outstanding job that the University of Missouri, the show that they put on this weekend and what they had to do and the opponents that they had," Golloway said.

After knocking off Texas, Texas A&M and Kansas, the Tigers leaped out to their five-run lead in this one by scoring four in the first off Sooner starter Damien Magnifico.

Missouri catcher Ben Turner hit a two-run single up the middle to kick things off.

Then, OU pitcher Dillon Overton, in for Magnifico after he lasted just 1/3 of an inning, gave up an RBI single to designated hitter Michael McGraw and RBI groundout.

The Sooners scored one each in the second and fourth on Oberste's homer and Bushyhead's RBI single, respectively, to cut the lead in half before Missouri got back to work in the fifth.

TIgers second baseman Dillon Everett blooped a single in, scoring two, and the Big 12 Tournament's Most Outstanding Player, shortstop Eric Garcia, followed up with an RBI single of his own.

That set up OU's five-run comeback that staged a great finish.

"I thought it was a terrific game," Golloway said. "A 7-2 deficit and we come back, pretty much exhaust our resources in the bullpen, and try to throw a little bit of everything at them. I thought when it was 7-7, it was going to take a special effort out of their dugout to win it and they did it."

Reliever Steven Okert, who threw 2 1/3 innings and gave up just an unearned run, suffered his seventh loss of the year, while Missouri reliever Dusty Ross earned the win and improved to 4-1.

Bushyhead finished 3-for-4 with an RBI and run scored, while White, Oberste and Carey each finished with multiple hits for OU.

Seven Tigers had multiple-hit outings, and McGraw led the way with three hits in five plate appearances.

The Sooners (38-22), who streaked down the stretch with victories in eight of their final 11 and put together two ninth-inning wins in the Big 12 Tournament but couldn't follow through with a third, now await their destination in the NCAA Tournament announced at 11 a.m. Monday.

"You know, we're big boys, we understand that we got to get breaks and you got to get lucky," Golloway said. "And we didn't get a lot early in the year and they seem to be coming our way, so since we didn't get one today and we tip our cap to our opponent, maybe we got one stored up for down the road."

Missouri takes the conference's at-large bid, while a couple of others, Baylor and Texas A&M, are set to host and Texas is on the bubble hoping for a bid.

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