Oklahoma stunned by Texas Tech in the ninth
ARLINGTON, Texas – All the right moves were made by Oklahoma until they weren’t.
Gut-punch. Crushing. Hard result to swallow. Pick one. They all fit.
Texas Tech rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth Thursday night at Globe Life Field as Kevin Bazzell walked it off 10-9 to send Oklahoma to a sixth Bedlam showdown of the year against Oklahoma State on Friday. This time the Sooners postseason lives will be on the line. More on that to come.
As the Bizzell screamer rolled up Wallace Clark arm and rolled into leftfield allowing the winning run to score, pandemonium ensued. Tech players chased Bizzell into shallow rightfield, running past second baseman Jackson Nicklaus who will be linked to Thursday night’s stunning outcome, unfortunately, forever.
That’s the way baseball goes. That’s the way baseball has gone (this season).
“We lost momentum of the game. Didn’t play defense,” Oklahoma head coach Skip Johnson said. “When you don’t get your outs on time you struggle to win baseball games.
“Give the momentum to the other team. That’s basically what happened.”
Case in point the bottom of the fourth. The momentum changer of the night. With Braden Carmichael seemingly cruising the first time through the Red Raider lineup, Nicklaus opened the frame with a throwing error. The routine play has become troublesome for the second year infielder in recent weeks.
Zac Vooletich’s then singled through the middle and Tech was in business to mount its first rally of the night. Then the bottom fell out. Nicklaus dropped a would-be inning ending pop fly. Three base hits later the Red Raiders had cut a 5-0 deficit to 5-4.
Two errors. One inning. Four unearned runs. Game on.
“He’s trying extremely hard. When you try in this game, you fail a little bit,” Johnson said. “He played extremely well today, except for those errors and it happens.”
Easy for Johnson to not come down on his sophomore second baseman. But the damage had been done.
Oklahoma and Tech traded runs in the fifth before Tech reliever Bo Blessie walked the bases loaded in the sixth. OU cashed in three more runs to extend the lead to 9-5. Room to breathe, right? Not on this Tech line up.
Hudson White’s two out single in the seventh kept the inning alive for freshman catcher Dylan Maxcey — who was a menace all night in the eight-hole with two doubles prior– to blast a two-run home run that cut the deficit to 9-7.
“You have to navigate your way through that lineup for sure. That’s a good lineup. There’s no doubt about that. You’ve got to get your outs sometimes. There’s 27 of them. Twenty-seven outs are hard to get. You’ve got to really focus. Everyone thinks baseball is an easy game. It’s a game of concentration. It’s a game of failure,” said Johnson.
Failure on a night when it seemed like Johnson and staff had pushed every correct button.
Braxton Douthit made his first career relief appearance for Oklahoma in the eighth and escaped. Then the hit parade came in the ninth. Four straight to be exact with two outs.
Trace Lopez’s single cut the lead to one. A Nolen Hester single tied it. And Bazzell walked it off.
“Every man up when you’re in a game like that. That’s why I burned (Braxton) Douthit. Knew he had a breaking ball. That’s what you try to throw against those guys and tip your hat to them they hit some breaking balls,” said Johnson.
Now Oklahoma faces the long road back through the elimination bracket. A sixth Bedlam on-deck. But this one will sting for awhile.
“They’re pretty dejected but, I mean, I think they do have a will,” Johnson said. “They showed that they had a will. They’re going to come out and fight. That’s the only thing you can ask for. They’re going to come out and give you effort. You can’t ask them to be someone they’re not. If they give you effort that’s all you need.”
Oklahoma just hopes it’s more than enough.