Until one late mistake pitch Wednesday morning, Oklahoma State's Andrew Heaney was wowing everybody – the Oklahoma Sooners included – at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
“He is arguably one of the best left-handers I've seen,” said OU coach Sunny Golloway.
To beat Heaney, which the Sooners did 1-0 on a dramatic walk-off home run by Garrett Carey in the bottom of the ninth inning, they had to have an answer on the mound. And OU got it from starter Dillon Overton and closer Steven Okert, who blanked the Cowboys, allowing just six hits and striking out 10 and helping secure an opening win at the Big 12 Tournament.
The Sooners advance to play top-seeded Baylor at 4 p.m. Thursday. OU was the only team to take a Big 12 series from the Bears in the regular season, sweeping their three games in Norman two weekends ago.
While the Sooners might not have a headliner the likes of Heaney, the Big 12's Pitcher of the Year, they've got aces in supply, one reason they're built for this time of year. Against the Cowboys, OU didn't even throw its acknowledged No. 1, Jordan John. Or its No. 2, Jonathan Gray.
Okert has become a force out of the bullpen. Then there's Damien Magnifico, the 100-mph marvel.
“It's just taken us a while,” Golloway said. “I really felt our pitchers, step for step, are as good as anybody's, if not deeper than anybody we faced all year.”
Taking a while meant finding the right roles for John and Okert.
“That was on me,” Golloway said. “I had Jordan John coming out of the bullpen. And I had Big Oak starting.”
Now, when it matters most, the Sooners seem to be lined up just right.
Paired against Heaney, Overton sure didn't bow down.