OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Sooners seven-game winning streak came to a halt in the first round of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Tournament against No. 4 seeded Missouri in a 8-7 decision on Wednesday. OU, seeded fifth, tied the ball game up at seven runs apiece in the ninth inning but then surrendered the game-winning hit in the bottom half of the inning.
Hunter Mense provided Missouri with the decisive hit, a single that bounced over OU second baseman Russell Raley’s head and scored Derek Chambers.
"Its obviously a disappointing loss but you have to give a lot of credit to these young men for battling back the way they did," said interim head coach Sunny Golloway. "Both teams fought reallly hard there at the end and you have to tip your cap to Missouri. We did not execute on a couple of small things early on in the game and came up short in the end."
The Sooners wasted no time to give starter Daniel McCutchen a lead with three runs in the first inning. With McCutchen pitching strong in his last five Big 12 starts, it seemed like OU was in prime position to put Missouri out of reach early. But the Tigers answered with a four-run third inning to take its first lead of the day.
McCutchen recorded his shortest start of the season (2 2/3) and the four earned runs was the most he has allowed in his last three starts. McCutchen’s exit in the third inning paved the way for John Brownell, who lasted 4 2/3 inning of work. Brownell also struggled against the Tigers’ offense, allowing three earned runs on seven hits.
Freddy Rodriguez helped OU tie the game in the fifth inning on a his 37th hit in the last 25 games, the most by any Sooner. Rodriguez later scored in the inning on Aaron Ivey’s second RBI of the contest.
The game remained tied until the bottom of the seventh inning on a two-run triple off the wall in right center field, bringing home Trevor Helms and James Boone. Missouri padded its lead with a single run in eighth inning and it was up to Andrew Johnston to close things out in the ninth frame.
But the Sooners, who have rallied in the late innings on several occasions in the last couple of weeks, mounted another come back. The rally started with a one-out single up the middle by Ryan Rohlinger. Then Eric Thornton put Rohlinger on third base with a single to center field and Ivey singled to right field to bring the Tigers’ lead down to one. A fielder’s choice off of Kevin Smith’s bat put two outs on the board but kept Eric Thornton in scoring position at third base. That set the stage for pinch hitter Jeff Scuderi, who entered the game for Joe Dunigan, to provide OU with some heroics on a two-out, two-run single to right field.
With the game tied at seven and Will Savage on the mound for OU, it appeared like everything was in place for another late-inning victory for OU, but after appearing in 13 of OU’s last 14 games, Savage showed he was human. The Sooners’ closer had only allowed just one run in his last eight appearances, but suffered his first defeat on Wednesday since an April 3rd start at Baylor after giving up the game-winning hit to Mense in the ninth.
OU (33-23) will now enter the loser’s bracket to face either No. 1 Nebraska or No. 8 Texas Tech, who played in the last game of the first round on Wednesday. That game will start at 1 p.m. on Thursday at the Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City with OU’s Daniel McCutchen expected to take the mound. Missouri (38-20) will face the winner of the NU/TT game at 8 p.m. on Thursday.
OU and Missouri have met four times in the Big 12 Tournament with each team winning two games ... Aaron Ivey collected three RBI in the loss and has seven RBI in the last six games ... Freddy Rodriguez is currently riding a four-game hitting streak and has hit safely in 13 of the last 14 games ... OU falls to 9-8 when it scores in the first inning and 18-10 when it scores the game’s initial run this season.