Oklahoma coach Pete Hughes sat in front of reporters Wednesday evening and said that he knew his team had the pitching depth to make a run in the Big 12 Championship Tournament, despite having just lost the opening game.
If the Sooners were going to make a deep run, they’d need a long outing from Robert Tasin, who took the mound against West Virginia on Thursday in an elimination game. It would need to be a pretty good outing just to keep Oklahoma in the tournament.
With a lead-off double dancing behind him and a few arms getting warm just beyond the right field fence in the Oklahoma bullpen, Tasin snared a line drive and turned a double play to clear the bases in the seventh inning.
He gave way to Jacob Evans in the eighth inning after allowing just one run on seven hits. Evans, Jeff Curran and Corey Copping nailed down the 6-1 victory as Oklahoma stayed alive for at least one more day.
“We needed a quality start, and he gave us that,” Hughes said. “He's done it all year long, being a fifth-year senior. He's composed, believes in his teammates.”
The Sooners (33-26), who snapped a four-game losing skid, will face Kansas State at 7 p.m. Friday in another elimination game.
Tasin started the game with a first-pitch strike to seven of the first eight batters he faced and threw just 93 pitches through seven innings – an average of less than 14 pitches per inning. p>
Oklahoma needed Tasin’s perfect outing, because for the second game in a row, the Sooners struggled at the plate early. Oklahoma batted 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position through the first seven innings before exploding for four runs in the eighth.
Tasin gave them the time.
“He was just attacking the strike zone,” catcher Anthony Hermelyn said. “He doesn't have any fear out there which I think is the main thing for a pitcher. You have to have that mentality to just go out there and feel up the zone and see what happens."
First baseman Kolbey Carpenter and shortstop Sheldon Neuse combined for no hits in their first six combined at-bat but played a key role with Carpenter scoring the only runs before the eighth inning and Neuse hitting the eventual game-winning sacrifice fly in the sixth – half an inning after West Virginia (27-27) tied the game.
Then they made a bigger dent in the eighth inning as Oklahoma broke the game open.
Hermelyn, who has 10 RBI in the past five games, continued his spectacular stretch to end the season following a walk and a single by Carpenter with a drive into left field to load the bases.
Neuse’s first hit of the tournament scored three runs on a double that landed behind the center fielder, plating Hermelyn from first base.
Just to round out his day, Tasin drove in Neuse for Oklahoma’s final run of the game.
“It was a lot of trying to stay within myself,” Tasin said.