An improbable swing connected with a rare mistake and, just like that, Andrew Heaney's brilliant Oklahoma State career likely came to a sudden, cruel ending.
Pitching in his hometown, against his Bedlam rival, Heaney was spinning another gem, dominating the Sooners with amazing ease. On just 86 pitches, the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year shook off a lack of run support and cruised through eight scoreless innings.
But on Heaney's third pitch of the ninth frame, Oklahoma third baseman Garrett Carey – a player with no home runs all season – drilled a low-liner just over the left-field wall, giving OU a walk-off 1-0 Bedlam win in the opening round of the Big 12 Tournament.
“Fastball away,” a clearly distraught Heaney said. “Just left it over the plate.”
Prior to the fateful pitch, Heaney had owned the Sooners, holding them scoreless for 17 straight innings to start 2012, striking out 15 over that time.
In fact, OU was yet to get an extra base hit against OSU's hard-throwing lefty, managing only five singles.
“He goes nine innings at Tulsa and shuts us out,” OU coach Sunny Galloway said. “Then he goes eight innings there, shutting us out. He is arguably one of the best left-handers I've seen, period. I'm really going to have to stretch to find a left-hander that has done what we've seen him do.”
But on this day, with a slumbering offense, it was all for naught.
OU lefties Dillon Overton and Steven Okert blanked the Cowboys for nine innings, surrendering six hits, but consistently getting out of jams.
OSU's biggest threat came in the eighth, when Mark Ginther and Wes Jones led off the inning with back-to-back singles. But freshman Gage Green failed to get a bunt down and the Cowboys opportunity quickly disappeared.
“We tried to bunt them over and get one run,” OSU coach Frank Anderson said. “As well as Heaney was going, we figured one run was going to do this thing.”
In the end, Anderson was right. One run did do it.
It came off the bat of a player with 117 previous at-bats without a home run. It came from the hand of a guy who led the Big 12 with 118.1 innings pitched, giving up only three homers prior.
And it possibly ended the career of one of OSU's most successful pitchers, as Heaney is widely expected to go early in next month's MLB Draft.
Heaney, who Anderson said could pitch in Sunday's championship if the Cowboys can somehow get there, is 8-2 with a 1.60 ERA. His 140 strikeouts lead the nation.
“He is a special kid,” Anderson said. “He is special to our team and me for all the things he has done. We have a pretty special bond. I get kind of emotional, but it is a pretty neat deal.”