MANHATTAN, Kan. — Oklahoma watched a four-run league evaporate along with its Big 12 Conference title hopes in Friday night’s 6-5 loss to Kansas State.
With the victory, the Wildcats (38-15, 15-7 Big 12) secured the conference title. OU (35-18, 12-10) can do no better than second place.
OU was in good position to take the opener of the three-game series heading into the bottom of the sixth inning. Anthony Hermelyn, who went 3 for 4, and Hunter Haley came through with RBI singles in the fourth inning. Hermelyn scored on a fielder’s choice in the sixth to give OU a 4-0 lead.
Throughout the season, right-hander Jonathan Gray made leads like that virtually bullet-proof.
However, Friday night that changed. Gray didn’t take the loss, but he did give up four runs on nine hits over 6 1-3 innings.
The Wildcats got to Gray in the sixth inning on RBI singles from Austin Fisher and Mitch Meyer that cut OU’s lead to 4-3.
The Wildcats tied the game in the seventh inning on a Tanner Witt hit and took the lead in the eighth when Jon Davis led off the inning with a triple off OU reliever Ethan Carnes. Pinch hitter Lance Miles drove him in with a single to right field.
OU did answer in their final at-bat. One pitch after Jack Mayfield pulled a pitch just outside the left-field foul pole off Kansas State reliever Jake Matthys, Mayfield belted his seventh homer of the season to tie the game.
However, OU closer Jacob Evans couldn’t halt the Wildcats in the bottom of the ninth inning. He walked Witt to start the inning and eventually loaded the bases with one out after a sacrifice bunt, intentional walk to Jared King and hitting Fisher with his first offering. Witt scored the game-winning run when a high fastball got passed Heremlyn, allowing Witt to score.
Fisher dropped to 6-2 with the loss. Matthys improved 8-0 with the win. The Sooners still need to win the series in order to bolster their hopes for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The teams return to Tointon Stadium at 6:30 p.m. today for the series’ second game.