OKLAHOMA CITY — Late-inning hits usually decide baseball games. Saturday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, it was the last out that was so difficult to secure.
For 2 1/2 innings Oklahoma and Kansas State traded big hits around like they were nothing. The difference in the Sooners’ 7-6 victory over Kansas State in 11 innings was that the Sooners had a pitcher who could get the last out.
Kyle Hayes was the fourth pitcher to trot out of OU’s bullpen and second since OU blew a four-run lead in the ninth inning. However, he struck out Mitch Meyer and Alex Bee with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th inning to nail down the victory.
“Running out there, I was a little nervous,” said Hayes, who notched his first save. “When I got on the mound I was fine. I trusted my stuff. I threw the ball hard and threw strikes.”
Hayes had reason to be nervous. The winner of Saturday’s game received a spot in today’s Big 12 championship. Going into the bottom of the ninth the Sooners (39-19) appeared to have it secured.
Garrett Carey clubbed a three-run triple in the fourth inning, sandwiched between sacrifice flies to give OU a 5-1 lead.
The Wildcats (41-17) have earned a reputation for battling back from deficits. They rallied from a four-run deficit to beat the Sooners back on May 17. That rally secured the league’s regular-season title for Kansas State.
When an RBI single from Tanner Witt, RBI double from Shane Conlon and a two-run single by Meyer tied it up in the ninth, the Sooners were not surprised.
“We’ve seen them. They are very, very poised,” OU coach Sunny Golloway said. “They have done that to everybody they have played and they can do it. Their dugout has a calmness because they know what kind of barrels they have in the lineup.”