The Oklahoma Sooners had a disappointing and noncompetitive end to their season on Sunday, dropping an elimination game 11-0 to the Xavier Musketeers. OU had defeated Xavier just two nights before, 7-2, but a 11-1 thrashing from regional host Louisville sent the Sooners to the brink before Xavier thoroughly finished them.
OU starter Kyle Tyler struggled mightily in his most important moment of the year. The infield defense made two errors behind him, but Tyler didn’t help his cause with three hit batters and exited the game in the first inning after recording just one out.
Tyler was relieved by Nathan Wiles, who the Sooners had hoped to save for the nightcap if they made it that far. Trailing 4-0 at the change, Wiles allowed four more runs to cross the plate. The Sooners left the first inning down by a disastrous 8-0 margin.
The OU offense couldn’t muster a response. Xavier starter Trent Astle allowed two singles in the first inning, but set the Sooners down in order in the second and third. When Xavier’s star third baseman Rylan Bannon hit a two-run jack in the bottom of the third, Xavier went up 10-0 and made hopes for a Sooner comeback even more remote.
Astle ended up going eight innings, allowing seven hits and no runs with four strikeouts and a walk. OU needed five pitchers to get through the game.
The loss ends an up-and-down season for the Sooners, who began spectacularly before coming to earth during conference play while still accumulating more top-50 RPI wins than any team in the country. That was good for a two-seed in the Louisville regional, but the pitching staff’s total lack of depth was pretty evident all weekend long.
There’s probably no point in speculating on Pete Hughes’ future, but his team made important strides this season. The inconsistency was disappointing, but had a lot to do with injuries until the final weeks when the pitching staff let OU down. We’ll see whether a postseason berth is good enough for another season.