Finally, the Sooners enjoyed a dogpile.
And yes, it was everything they thought it would be.
“Words can’t describe it,” senior Max White said after Oklahoma’s 7-2 win over Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament championship game. “We won a Super Regional in my freshman year and I guess it’s the last time we dogpiled in a Sooner uniform.
“It’s just relieving. After four years, I’m exhausted. It’s humbling and I couldn’t wish for anything else with this group of guys.”
Recent years have left Oklahoma players and coaches standing silently in their dugout, watching as other teams performed the ultimate baseball celebration. At NCAA Regionals and Super Regionals. At last year’s Big 12 Tournament, when Missouri beat the Sooners and piled high on the infield turf.
Not this time.
Not Sunday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, where the Sooners took control early and claimed their first Big 12 championship — regular season or championship — since 1997.
It was the first Big 12 championship for OU coach Sunny Golloway in his eight seasons, effectively shrugging off the ape that Golloway said has weighed on him in the quest to hoist a conference trophy. While he didn’t participate in the dogpile, missing it to fulfill television obligations, he understood the reward.
“I’m going to get to enjoy it when I go home and watch the news and the replays,” Golloway said. “I don’t have to see it live to know what it must feel like for my players. That’s the best feeling in the world.
“I tell our guys, ‘You know when you hug each other in baseball?’ They think about it for a while and I say, ‘When you win championships.’ You hug each other after you dogpile, that’s when you hug each other.
“My enjoyment is knowing they did dogpile and then getting to hug each and every one of them.”
Finishing off an unbeaten run through the tournament, the Sooners improved to 40-19. And if there was any lingering question about their postseason status — and that waned as they kept winning this weekend — the point became moot when OU claimed the Big 12’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
OU’s regional destination will be revealed Monday, when the 64-team bracket is revealed. ESPNU will televise the Road to Omaha Selection Show at 11 a.m.
Jacob Evans gave the Sooners five strong relief innings on the mound, and Matt Oberste drove in four runs, including a two-run, homer in the third that built a 5-1 lead.
That was more than enough, with Evans leading a three-pronged OU shutdown effort on the mound.
Ethan Carnes started and went 2 1/3 innings, allowing one run. Kyle Hayes secured the final five outs for the save.
In between, Evans carried five critical innings, after a rough relief outing against Kansas State on Saturday.
“When I came out yesterday, Coach Golloway told me to get my head straight, because we’re going to need me (Sunday),” Evans said. “I learned a lot about myself today. I struggled a little earlier. I just had confidence in my coaches and learned a lot about myself.”
And the Sooners learned how to dogpile, something that might have seemed unlikely as recent as a week ago, when they stumbled into the Big 12 Tournament having lost nine of their last 12 games.
“We’ve been together all year,” Oberste said. “We’re a great team. We’ve got great defense. We’ve got good pitching. We’ve got good at-bats. “These last few weeks, our bats have been struggling, but we’ve been able to figure it out and we came out on top.”