A minor tweak to the pitching rotation, and Oklahoma rebounded from an early shutout loss to put itself back in position for the Big 12 Conference regular season title with a series victory against Kansas State.
Sooners coach Pete Hughes swapped weekend starters Alec Hansen and Robert Tasin after a rare bad outing from ace Jake Elliott on Friday night in a shutout loss.
The result was one of Hansen’s best outings Sunday and another solid six innings from Tasin on Saturday as Oklahoma has a chance at the Big 12 title against TCU on the final weekend of the season – although the Sooners would need to sweep one of the top teams in the country to do so.
Oklahoma also guaranteed a spot in the Big 12 Tournament in two weeks in Tulsa, but that wasn’t much in question
“We came out ready to play baseball, and I was proud of our focus in the way we approached a really good starting pitcher,” Hughes told reporters after Sunday’s 4-3 victory, which was delayed by about 90 minutes because of rain. “That was our goal: To get in their bullpen early, and we did that but credit their bullpen. They came in and made pitches all day.”
Hansen, a sophomore righty, had been struggling with consistency during parts of the season and was even wild, at times. On Sunday in the rubber match, he was near perfect – throwing five innings, allowing just one run and walking none.
“That is unbelievable progress for that kid,” Hughes said. “They had us first and third with no outs (in the fourth), which became second and third with no outs and Alec pitched his way out of that jam and kept his composure so he grew up a lot (Sunday).”
Oklahoma (32-22, 13-8 Big 12) will open a series Thursday against No. 3 TCU, which has won eight-straight conference games and beat the Sooners in a non-conference mid-week game earlier this season.