Texas pitching managed to keep Oklahoma State off the scoreboard through 16 1/3 innings at the Big 12 Tournament.
OSU finally broke through in the bottom of the eighth on Saturday, pushing across three runs in the eighth inning as the Cowboys topped the Longhorns 3-1 to force the if necessary game for a spot in Sunday’s title game.
Aaron Cornell’s one-out single was followed by a Saulyer Saxon walk to set the stage for OSU’s eighth-inning rally. Donnie Walton, Tanner Krietemeier and Tim Arakawa produced RBI singles later in the inning, lifting the Cowboys to their 26th comeback win this season and third in the tournament.
The OSU comeback spoiled a terrific outing by Texas starter Nathan Thornhill, who surrendered no runs on two hits through six innings.
Reliever Blake Battenfield worked three scoreless innings to get the win, and Brendan McCurry tossed a perfect ninth for his 18th save of the season.
SOONERS LOOK FORWARD
Oklahoma’s season is done after an 11-8 loss to Oklahoma State on Friday, but coach Pete Hughes is optimistic for the future after his first season.
“I love being a part of the University of Oklahoma,” Hughes said. “Better days are ahead, I promise you that. It’s a great product to recruit to, and we will recruit tirelessly. We start tomorrow.”
The Sooners finish 2014 with a 29-29 record and will look to build on a solid base of young players with infielder/pitcher Sheldon Neuse leading the way as reigning Big 12 Freshman of the Year.
“I think we played our best ball at the end of the season, and I think it’s definitely going to carry over into the fall and into next season for sure,” Neuse said.
TCU ADVANCES DESPITE FINNEGAN’S SHORT OUTING
TCU punched its ticket to Big 12 Tournament championship with a 4-1 win over Baylor on Saturday morning.
Led by their dominant pitching staff, the Horned Frogs improved to 3-0 in the tournament.
After getting wins Wednesday and Thursday behind great starting pitching, TCU (41-15) turned to its bullpen on Saturday as starter Brandon Finnegan lasted only 4 2/3 innings due to a high pitch count.
Finnegan, a projected first-round draft pick, held the Bears hitless until giving up a one-out single in the fourth to Lawton Langford.
Finnegan threw 33 pitches in the fourth and 20 more in the fifth before he was pulled. The junior gave up one run on three hits, walked three and struck out seven before being pulled after 91 pitches.
Trey Teakell got the win with three shutout innings in relief of Finnegan, and Riley Ferrell earned his 13th save while striking out three and surrendering no hits over the final 1 1/3 innings.
“When I came in for Brandon my job was just to force the action and to attack the zone,” Teakell said. “The odds are in my favor when I do that, so I just try to attack as much as I can.”
First baseman Kevin Cron led the way for TCU at the plate, going 3-for-5 with two RBIs.
FROGS CONTENDING FOR NATIONAL SEED
TCU has the right lines on its resume — a No. 20 ranking, No. 11 RPI, 41-15 record and a run to the Big 12 Championship game.
That has the Horned Frogs in the thick of consideration for one of eight national seeds, and a win in Sunday’s championship would only help their cause.
“Somebody in our league needs to be a national seed,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “We are the No. 2 RPI league. It’s got to be somebody, so it might as well be us. We’ve had a great season and Oklahoma State has also had a great season. Texas is also playing really well right now.”
Perfectgame.org currently projects TCU to be the Big 12s only national seed, sneaking into the No. 7 spot. Meanwhile, Florida, Virginia, Florida State and Oregon State are virtual locks for national bids.
“I know the first four or five are probably pretty easy for the committee to pick, and the last three are probably really tough,” Schlossnagle said. “I think our resume is as good as any and better than most. This league deserves a national seed. The ACC is behind us in RPI and they are talking about two teams in that league having one.”