CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Throughout the regular season, the Sooners waited until the pressure was on to deliver. Nothing has changed in the regional round of the NCAA Baseball Tournament.
OU needed 10 innings to defeat Army 2-1 in Sunday's first game, then it took down host Virginia 5-4 in a second elimination game Sunday night to stay alive.
The Sooners face Appalachian State at 3 p.m. Monday. If OU wins, it will play the Mountaineers again after the first game to advance to a Super Regional next weekend at South Carolina.
After Oklahoma took the lead, mental lapses allowed both opponents to put a tying run on second base in the final inning. That did not sit well with OU coach Sunny Golloway, who lit into his team on the field after defeating Virginia.
“I made it very clear that if we don't show up (Monday) and play defense, it's going to be very, very short,” he said. “They got a pretty good tail-chewing out there.”
Damien Magnifico (3-1, 3.86) will start the first game for the Sooners against Appalachian State, looking to build on a weekend of untouchable starting pitching that made up for a lack of offense.
The bats, silent all tournament, finally woke up in the 10th inning against Army, when OU was on the verge of being sent home. OU has almost as many errors (8) as it does hits (11) in the regional.
“We've gotten pretty lucky to be where we're at right now,” OU second baseman Jack Mayfield said. “We know we have a good defense – we've showed it before.”
So far, the pitching has been good enough to overcome the other flaws. Sophomore Jonathan Gray was up first Sunday against Army, delivering seven strong innings and picking up some key defensive help from Cody Reine, who gunned down a runner at the plate in the third inning to keep the game scoreless.