The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Hours after delivering its biggest win of the Heartland Classic, team Oklahoma couldn’t provide one more against Texas to advance into the championship game of the tournament.
Texas easily handled Oklahoma 7-1 in the nightcap, a game that amounted to essentially a semifinal after Thursday’s games were rained out. That prompted tournament officials to eliminate the first round of the bracket originally planned for Friday and instead seed teams for a single game Saturday after completing the round-robin portion of the event Friday night.
And after Oklahoma defeated Georgia 2-1 in the first game of the day, the team entered Friday’s game against Texas at Norman North with an opportunity to advance to today’s title game with a win. But behind a huge game from Texas pitcher Connor Reich, Texas was able to easily move past Oklahoma and into the title game.
Reich went the distance against Oklahoma, striking out 13 batters while allowing just three hits in the contest. Oklahoma’s one run in the game was unearned, coming in the sixth inning on an error with Texas leading 5-0.
“We knew they had a tough kid on the mound tonight,” Oklahoma coach Shawn Newkirk said of Reich, who will attend TCU in the fall as a preferred walk-on. “He threw a great game. He had a lot of sliders, which is a tough pitch to hit.”
Even with Reich rolling, Oklahoma stayed in the game for a time. The score was knotted at zero early, with neither team plating a run until Texas moved across three in the fourth inning thanks to Cameron Salvaggio’s double into deep center field. Texas added two more in the fifth inning as Reich helped his own cause with an RBI triple into left field.
The narrow victory over Georgia put Oklahoma into a spot where it could advance to the title game with a win over Texas or a Maryland loss to Colorado in the other Friday night contest, but neither came to pass. Maryland, which defeated Oklahoma by one run in the tournament opener on Tuesday, rolled to an 11-0 victory over Colorado and left Oklahoma with a 4-2 record.
That left Oklahoma tied with Georgia and Maryland for second place, and the determination came down to the tiebreaker. Because Maryland owns victories over both Oklahoma and Georgia, it is Maryland that will face Texas in the title game at 6 p.m. today, while Oklahoma will face a rematch with Georgia at 3 p.m. at L. Dale Mitchell Park at OU for third place.
“It’s good to be in that game, but we had an error against Maryland in the first inning that would have changed things if we don’t have that,” Newkirk said. “That’s pretty much the difference between second and third.
“We just want to go out and finish strong.”
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