CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Asked who would pitch in Sunday's first game, Oklahoma baseball coach Sunny Golloway gave his rotation for the next four.
A 5-4 loss to Appalachian State in its NCAA regional opener Saturday night was a setback to Oklahoma, but if it affected the Sooners' confidence, nobody was showing it.
“Our team's set up for tournament play just like this,” shortstop Caleb Bushyhead said. “Our arms later on will beat other guys' arms later on.”
Pitcher Jonathan Gray will be first up as OU (38-23) begins an uphill climb to the title at 10 a.m. Sunday against Army. The winner of that elimination game plays another one at 6 p.m. against Virginia or ASU.
The Mountaineers set the tone in the opener as pitcher Ryan Arrowood didn't allow a hit for six innings, leaving his team a lead that grew to 5-1 entering the bottom of the ninth.
Closer Nathan Hyatt almost gave it all back, though, loading the bases on two walks and a hit batsman. Lefty Ryne Frankoff came out of the bullpen to salvage the game, allowing Hyatt's three runs to score but stranding the tying run at second.
“We just didn't keep it close enough,” Golloway said. “Even though it was a 5-1 deficit, we really believed we were going to be able to win the ballgame.”
He credited his pitcher, Jordan John, for throwing a strong game, but pointed out that John's fielding errors helped extend the lead to its unreachable margin.
John committed two throwing errors, both of which directly resulted in a run for the Mountaineers. He threw into the ninth inning, though, striking out seven in a 115-pitch outing.
It would be enough to win on most nights, but not against the nearly untouchable Arrowood, who threw 137 pitches. Bushyhead was the first to get a hit, singling in the seventh before Arrowood struck out the next two hitters.
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