OKLAHOMA CITY, — It’s been 16 years since Oklahoma won the Big 12 tournament. It’s closer now than its ever been to ending the streak. The Sooners rolled through Baylor, 7-2, on Saturday at Bricktown Ballpark to advance to the tournament’s title game for the first time since the inaugural event in 1997.
Hard to believe just two weeks ago, OU was considered a bubble team for next week’s NCAA Tournament. Now, it’s safely in the NCAA Tournament, and a different aura surrounds the Sooners.
“We knew if we were able to get the pieces all together, we would have something special,” OU coach Sunny Golloway said. “We’re playing good baseball right now.”
Baylor (44-14) has been the Big 12’s best team. It won the regular-season title by four games. But after Saturday’s loss, they went 0 for 5 against the Sooners this season.
“I like most of their coaches, but I really like their team,” Baylor coach Steve Smith with a not-so-subtle dig at Golloway. “I think they play hard and they pitch the heck out of it. Somebody’s going to have to deal with that in a regional, and that’s going to be interesting.”
Pitching is what OU’s ridden in the tournament. It managed to reach Saturday’s semifinals despite scoring a combined four runs in wins over Oklahoma State on Wednesday and the Bears on Thursday.
Jonathan Gray made it three straight dominant pitching performances. The right-hander scattered six hits over 7 2/3 innings. He also struck out six. Gray improved to 8-4 with the victory. More importantly, the Sooners have won the last six times he’s taken the mound.
Golloway always says the key to Gray’s success is giving him a lead to protect. The Sooners (38-21) erupted for three runs in the top of the second inning, and Gray settled in from there.