His struggles over the past four days had mounted, Neuse becoming increasing unable to come through as one of the Sooners’ top batters during the Big 12 Tournament championship – and needing a deep run to likely advance to the NCAA Tournament.
A fastball got him one more time.
Neuse walked back to the dugout, his bat resting on his right shoulder and his batting helmet hanging from his left hand. His game-ending strikeout – his seventh in four games – wasn’t the sole reason for Oklahoma’s 5-1 loss to Bedlam rival Oklahoma State.
It was just the final one.
Oklahoma (34-26), which will have to hope for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament with a 77 RPI rating, couldn’t find much consistent offense all tournament long. The Sooners scored more than three runs just once despite totaling 37 hits in four games.
Neuse, one of four Sooners on the All-Big 12 first team, was at the root of Oklahoma’s offensive struggles. In 13 at-bats, Neuse struck out seven times – routinely chasing a high fastball. He had just one hit in four games but did have four RBI in Oklahoma’s victory against West Virginia.
Oklahoma State, which will play Texas on Sunday for the Big 12 Championship, continued its recent dominance against Oklahoma. The Cowboys routed the Sooners by 22 runs in non-conference play this season and have won nine games between the two teams in the last two season.
Oklahoma is 3-9 under second-year coach Pete Hughes in the Bedlam rivalry.
The stout pitching performances ran shy as the shear number of arms began to run out for Oklahoma, which used at least three pitchers in each of its first three games of the tournament.
Corey Copping, who made the Saturday start for Oklahoma, had already pitched in two games and totaled 2.2 innings before the match-up with Oklahoma State.