Man, did that live up to the name Bedlam or what?
This one required its own post, seeing as how players set career highs and records were broken.
To start, this was the longest game in Allie P. history, surpassing a March 2011 game against UT by three innings. But after the first two innings, no one expected this game to go past nine; if anything, it might have ended at seven by run rule.
The first inning troubles were back, as an error and two walks led to an OU grand slam. The Cowboys got three runs back in their half of the inning, thanks to back-to-back home runs by Tanner Krietemeier (3-9, 2B, 2 R) and Gage Green (3-8, 2B, 3 R). But OSU immediately gave back four more runs in the top of the second when it walked and errored its way to another bases-loaded jam. Coach Holliday went to the bullpen after just 1+ inning from Garrett Williams, but Thomas Hatch wasn’t able to shut down OU and it was 8-3 after two.
Zach Fish (career-high 4-8, 2 R, 2 RBI) started the comeback in the sixth with his sixth home run of the year, a solo shot to left-center. But OU scored again in the top of the seventh, and it felt like the nail in the coffin. At that point, it was 9-4 and the Pokes were running out of time. OSU scored three unearned runs in the eighth thanks to the second error of the night from the OU shortstop and a wild pitch. But the rally fell short and the Pokes faced a two-run deficit with one inning left.
OU brought in closer Matt Garza, Jr., who had seven saves and a 1.67 ERA coming into the game. He is what Brendan McCurry is to the Cowboys. This one looked to be over to everyone except the players in the third-base dugout. Krietemeier and Green got on before Fish had an RBI single, scoring Krietemeier. Then Ryan Sluder beat out a double-play attempt to drive in the tying run and moving the winning run 90 feet from home. But Corey Hassel walked and Andrew Rosa grounded out to send this one to extras.
But then both teams decided to start over and have a pitcher’s duel instead. The Sooners and Cowboys combined for zero runs and 11 hits from the 10th through the 17th, after 18 hits and 18 runs in the first nine innings. Finally, the Cowboys ran out of gas after Tyler Nurdin gave up three in the 18th and OSU got no hits in their last at-bat. It was a tough loss to swallow after coming back multiple times and even having a chance to win in the ninth.
I give these kids credit, though. Coach Holliday talked after the game about how this game wasn’t a complete loss, that there was some moral victory to it. And this is one of the few times I agree with the cliché. These Cowboys have earned a reputation as a team that doesn’t give up on a game. It would have been easy to give up after going down 4-0 in OU’s first at-bat, or being down 8-3 after the second, or even down 9-7 heading into the bottom of the ninth.
But these guys refuse to quit. They believe they have a chance to win every game they play, regardless of the opponent or the score after the first inning. (footnote: OSU is now being outscored 44-22 in the first inning of games this season. Another way to look at that: OSU’s chances of losing the game have doubled from first pitch to the end of the first inning.) It’s why 15 of the team’s 26 wins are of the come-from-behind variety. They are pretty good at digging themselves a hole, but they also have the ability to climb out of that hole quickly, and often. (footnote: Imagine how many of the 11 losses would have been wins if OSU didn’t have to keep fighting from behind after the first inning. This would be a top-5 team, no doubt.)
And to see how well these guys work as a team, all you have to do is look at the box score. Seven different Cowboys had hits, with four of them having more than one. We might not have a player-of-the-year caliber hitter, but we have four or five very good ones, and a few more who are capable. And that hitters corps knows when someone needs to step up. Take a look at who led the three big comebacks:
1. Krietemeier and Green’s homers in the first inning to pull the score back to 4-3
2. Dustin Williams’s sharp ball to the shortstop in the 8th, which was bobbled and allowed two runs to score, eventually ending the inning down only 9-7
3. Fish with the RBI single and later scoring on a fielder’s choice by Sluder and forcing the game into extras
Three comeback attempts led by five different players. OSU has multiple guys who can come through in the clutch, which is a great asset to have in Omaha in June. And that’s why there’s some silver lining to this loss. Sure, losing to those trailer park pleasant fans down I-35 isn’t fun. But we learned something about these Cowboys that should help us get back to the College World Series. And the best part? We still have three conference games against OU in a few short weeks.