NORMAN — Oklahoma didn’t wait to break out its backward pitching plan Friday night.
With OU ace Andrew Doyle roughed up early and yanked just one out into the third inning, the Sooners went to their pitching strength — the bullpen — and rallied for a 5-4 win over Wichita State in an NCAA Tournament opener at the Norman Regional.
Before a crowd of 3,176 at Mitchell Park, top-seeded OU advanced to today’s winners’ bracket final, a 7 p.m. matchup with No. 2 Arkansas. The Razorbacks beat Washington State 10-3 in their opener.
The scene wasn’t unfamiliar for the Sooners, who have leaned on their bullpen often this season. Still, it didn’t project as part of the script Friday night, with Doyle facing one of the weakest Wichita State lineups in memory.
But with Doyle done after just 2 1/3 innings — his shortest outing of the season — OU sought relief and found it in Chase Anderson, who retired 15 of the 17 batters he faced before turning over the ninth inning to closer Ryan Duke.
Combined, Anderson and Duke allowed just two hits and struck out eight.
"We scored early,” said Shockers coach Gene Stephenson. "We did some good things early.
"But when Anderson came in, he pretty much stopped us.”
Wichita State, falling to 30-26, jumped Anderson for a first-inning run, then scored three more in the third for a 4-1 lead. Doyle might have gone on, except he drilled Ryan Engrav with a pitch after getting ahead 1-2 in the count.
"It’s a tough decision, because Andrew Doyle has been so good all year,” said OU coach Sunny Golloway.
"In a regular season game, even a Big 12 Friday night, I think he pitches through that.