There was no miracle comeback for Oklahoma on Saturday night.
No last-minute rally to extend the game or extend the season.
Oklahoma State 11, Oklahoma 8. Season over.
A day after scoring six runs in the final two innings to keep hopes of a repeat performance as Big 12 Tournament champs — and an NCAA Tournament berth — alive, the Sooners’ hopes were snuffed out with the loss in a game that extended into early Saturday morning at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
Those chances went away in the eighth in an inning the summed up Oklahoma’s season. An error started off the inning, the Sooners nearly fought back to get out of the jam, and then Oklahoma State’s Aaron Cornell blasted a three-run home run off Sheldon Neuse to break the tie and send the Sooners to a 29-29 finish overall.
“That’s baseball.” Sooners first-year coach Pete Hughes said. “Our decision going into that inning was, let’s not let (Tanner) Krietemeier beat us. Let (Conor) Costello and Cornell beat us. That was a philosophy that we felt great about. Hats off to Cornell.”
After the error and a sacrifice, Neuse walked Krietemeier before Costello’s squeeze attempt turned into an out at the plate.
Then Cornell sent Neuse’s 1-1 pitch over the bleachers in left.
“I’ll put Sheldon in that situation 100 times out of 100 times,” Hughes said. “Like I told him after the game, I will sleep soundly tonight with that decision.”
For the second consecutive day, the Sooners could’ve been blown out early.
Starter Adam Choplick was wild from the start, hitting the first batter he faced and walking another in the first as both runners came around to score.
But Choplick gutted through five innings with a 6-3 lead, having struck out eight but walked five and hit two before things went sideways in the sixth.
Choplick, with a pitch count over 100, allowed the first four runners to reach in the sixth before being pulled with the game tied and the eventual go-ahead runner on base.
“I brought him back in the sixth because he went punch out, punch out, jamshot one-two-three in the fifth,” Hughes said. “The matchup was in our favor.”
Neuse had his second career four-hit game, including a two-run single in the fourth.
“Sheldon Neuse is the best young hitter I’ve seen since I’ve started coaching college baseball,” Oklahoma State coach Josh Holliday said.
Holliday has certainly seen Neuse enough this season.
The Bedlam rivals played seven times, with Oklahoma State winning five.
Of Oklahoma’s 13 hits, eight came from the top three spots in the lineup.
The Sooners return much of their lineup next year, including the Big 12 Freshman of the Year Neuse.
“I think we played the best ball at the end of the season and I think it’s definitely going to carry over into the fall and coming up next season for sure,” Neuse said.
Things will turn around, Hughes said.
“Better things are ahead, I promise you that,” Hughes said. “It’s a great product to recruit to. We will recruit tirelessly. We’ll start tomorrow.”