Oklahoma's shot at the Big 12 Tournament title started shakily and ended empty Sunday.
But what happened in between, reflective of OU's week and more, provided Sooners coach Sunny Golloway with a platform for optimism.
Missouri bolted to big early leads, then fought off a Sooner rally to claim its first Big 12 baseball championship, 8-7, at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
The Tigers, in farewell address before exiting for the Southeastern Conference, completed an unlikely run to the title after finishing sixth in the regular-season standings, never losing a game in Oklahoma City. In doing so, they claim the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
The Sooners are assured of postseason life, too, one reason Golloway can look ahead with anticipation.
“We know that we'll get to play next weekend,” Golloway said. “And Missouri deserves to play next weekend.”
The Sooners spent everything in an effort to win Sunday, trying to claim the program's first conference crown since 1997. Apparently, they took it hard, too, as Golloway didn't allow anyone else from his club to talk to the media afterward, a departure from the parade of players brought into the interview room after each of OU's wins.
Those other games – wins over Oklahoma State and Baylor twice – allowed Golloway to look past Sunday's disappointment.
“What we lost here today – a championship, a ring, a trophy,” Golloway said. “But what we take from it is the fact that we played three really, really solid games. And that's what it's going to take to advance.
“If you can win three next weekend, you're going to move on. And you can't play more than three the following weekend.”
Missouri put the Sooners in a hole immediately, chasing OU starter Damien Magnifico in the first inning. The hard-throwing Magnifico suffered from an infield error, but he also allowed issued a walk and allowed two hits, including a two-run double by Mizzou's Ben Turner.
He left after five batters, recording just one out.
“I think it was a pressure situation from the get-go,” Golloway said. “We needed to do some things to help settle him in. They did what they had to. They hunted the fastball.
“I don't know that there was so much wrong with him, as that they came out and were ready to go.”
OU was forced to turn quickly – too quickly – to Wednesday starter Dillon Overton, which also led to an early call for closer Steven Okert, who came on in the fifth.
“They had to go to their bullpen, I'm sure, a lot earlier than they wanted to,” said Tigers coach Tim Jamieson. “And I thought the second left-hander (Okert), he didn't get as late into the game as they would have liked.
“And that's all related to starting pitching. Everything matters. Getting (Magnifico) out early was big.”
Still, the Sooners rallied, even as Mizzou's lead grew to 7-2.
Evan Mistich keyed a three-run fifth inning with a two-run double, before Garrett Carey drove in two with a single in the sixth to bring OU even at 7-7.
But the Tigers loaded the bases in the eighth, getting the eventual winning run on a double play groundout. Then they held on.
The Sooners started something in the ninth, with Mistich drawing a leadoff walk. After a sacrifice and a pitching change, Caleb Bushyhead walked on five pitches, putting the winning run on base.
Matt Oberste popped out, before pinch hitter Chase Simpson rifled a shot into right field. Bushyhead was thrown out at the plate, but umpires ruled that Simpson's hit had actually struck Bushyhead's heel on its way into right field, resulting in the third out.
And the Sooners could only watch as the Tigers dogpiled in Oklahoma City.
“We're heartbroken, don't get me wrong,” Golloway said. “I know it's been since 1997. Nobody wanted it more than we did, I promise you. I didn't sleep last night.
“Wanted it for our university. Wanted it for our program. Wanted it for our fans. We're big boys, we understand that you've got to get breaks. You've got to get lucky. We didn't get a lot early in the year and they seem to be coming our way.
“Since we didn't get one today, we tip our cap to our opponent and maybe we've got one stored up for down the road.”