Guess who's laughing now?
Now the sophomore shortstop from Mannford, Okla., can forever claim some College World Series fame. Bushyhead went 2-for-3 with a solo home run and an RBI single in a game where the Sooners (50-16) were held to seven hits and four runs against South Carolina.
The solo blast was his sixth homer of the season, but none of the previous five were as important as the one that carried into the first few rows of the right field bleachers of Rosenblatt Stadium. And he may not have another quite as memorable.
"When I was rounding the bases, I was pretty surreal," Bushyhead said about his thoughts while rounding the bases. "I was like ‘man, this is it, we're doing it. Let's go ahead and take it all the way."
The surreal moment was also a short turning point of the game.
Junior pitcher Michael Rocha had just given up the Sooners' one-run lead by allowing a solo homer in the top half of the second that tied the game and swung momentum in the Gamecocks' favor. But after a Danny Black fly-out, Bushyhead lifted the third pitch of the inning out of the park to put the Sooners up 2-1.
His presence was felt again when he made his second plate appearance. He lined a single down the right field line that plated right fielder Cody Reine from second to break up a 2-2 tie.
The 3-2 score that Bushyhead had a major hand in stuck going into the game's second rain delay, this one lasting two hours and one minute, before third baseman Garrett Buechele added an insurance turn game-winning run with a solo moon shot in the eighth and closer Ryan Duke recorded the final three outs."One run's not always going to do it," said Bushyhead, whose .292 batting average during the post season was well below his career average. "It did tonight, eventually, by the end of the game, but we're always looking to going out there and score more."
Even though Bushyhead didn't drive in the game-winner, he was the spark that ignited the Sooners to victory and advance to the winner's bracket, which is something he can claim for the rest of his life.
Other Bushyhead Quotes
On his approach at the plate:
"When I go up to the plate I'm always just looking to do something to help out the team; any way to get on base whether it's a base on balls, a hit by pitch or just getting up there or looking for a pitch in the zone I can really handle and drive into a gap or just finding some way to get off a [sacrifice] and let my teammates do the rest and get me in."
On his home run:
"When I was rounding the bases, I was pretty surreal. I was like ‘man, this is it, we're doing it. Let's make it all the way."
On staying relaxed during the long rain delay:"It's not real easy. It is pretty tough. We just kind of hung out, kept our cool. We knew we would get back on the yard at some point. Being here at Rosenblatt they really take care of the field and do a good job at holding all that water. So we planned to play, and we kept that in the back of our mind. I mean, our club, we're really built on mental toughness, and just to take some of that and hang in there and keep the right mindset going into that game. Knowing there's rain in the area and sticking with it and being tough and toughing it all out, and it worked out for us."
On going into the second rain delay with the lead rather than losing:
"Either way, really, we come out the same. Being in the fifth or sixth inning when that big delay hit there for a while, I mean either way – yeah – we're going to come out battling for runs like it's the start of a new game. One run's not always going to do it. It did tonight eventually by the end of the game, but we're always looking to going out there and score more. If we're down one we're not going to get bogged down by that, and if we're up by five we're not going to affect us, either. We're going to come out the same."