OU (44-15) defeated the Kansas State Wildcats 13-2 in a run rule to improve to 2-1 during pool play in the Big 12 Tournament, but the winning record didn't advance the Sooners to Sunday's title game.
Some considered Saturday's game to be a meaningless one since the Baylor Bears and Texas A&M Aggies clinched a berth in the title game Friday, but OU played like it had something to prove. Golloway pulled out all the stops and sophomore third baseman Garrett Buechele had a big day at the plate.
The Sooners were playing small ball right out of the gate, and in the first inning it paid off.
With runners on first and third and one out, Golloway called a delayed steal and the Wildcats went for the bait. The throw from the catcher got through the middle infielders to allow freshman left fielder Max White to score and advance Buechele to third to take the 1-0 lead.
But initially junior pitcher Bobby Shore could not hold the lead. He threw 24 pitches – l1 strikes and 13 balls – and allowed two runs in the first, and Shore and Golloway had a one-on-one conversation before he settled down.
"Coach came out there and was like ‘throw strikes,' and that's what I've got to do," Shore said. "I did a better job after that for the rest of the game."
The Sooners were held off the scoreboard in the second, and Buechele tied the game with a solo homer in the third.
Buechele's first home run on the afternoon sparked the rest of the lineup.
OU exploded for six runs, which matched the total amount of runs OU had scored in the first two games, in the fourth inning using a lot of small ball and timely hitting. The Sooners stole two bases, bunted twice and collected six hits in the inning.
Junior second baseman Danny Black and sophomore shortstop Caleb Bushyhead each had RBI singles and sophomore center fielder Chris Ellison doubled in a pair of runs and later scored on a throwing error after stealing third. Buechele capped off the inning with his second solo homer of the game.
The homer was Buechele's 15th of the season, which is good enough for the team lead.
He had two shots to get his third homer, and he was taking healthy swings at the plate and tried to hit a third, Buechele said, but two hit-by-pitches in his final two plate appearances ruined any shot of him having his first career three-homer day.
"I was definitely thinking about three," Buechele said. "I figured I was going to give it a whirl, but when he beaned me I was a little bummed."
Buechele was pulled in the eighth to avoid injury.
With the 8-2 lead and the game in hand, Bushyhead tacked on another run with another RBI single in the fifth inning, and the Sooners plated four more runs in the eighth to take the double-digit lead.
The final three runs came on a three-run home run by Black, who ended the day going 2-for-5 with four RBIs.
Shore's day ended after 5 2/3 innings and giving up two runs, both in the first inning, and junior pitcher Anthony Collazo and freshman pitcher Jack Mayfield combined to throw the last 2 1/3 innings. Neither reliever allowed a run.
Now that the Sooners are done with the Big 12 Tournament, they'll be playing the waiting game to find out whether they will be hosting a regional in the playoffs. The two wins this weekend along with OU's body of work should allow the Sooners to get one of the 16 host spots, Golloway said.
The selection committee will release the results of who hosts Sunday afternoon, followed by their site posts Monday, and when it does OU will prepare for whatever outcome it receives.
"Anywhere we are I think we'll be fine," Black said. "We'd like to be at home, but anywhere we are we'll be happy."
No. 4 Texas A&M 9, No. 1 Texas 3
No. 2 OU NUMB, No. 3 Kansas State NUMB
No. 6 Baylor v. No. 7 Kansas, 7:30 p.m.
No. 6 Baylor v. No. 4 Texas A&M, 1 p.m. on FSN
*All rankings are according to tournament seeding