The Oklahoma Sooners opened with a pair of wins in the Tallahassee Regional, but OU’s NCAA Tournament run is now over after consecutive losses to Mississippi State. Monday’s 8-1 defeat leaves OU’s final 2018 season record at 38-25.
The fact that Oklahoma was at least able to win a pair of games against good teams without its biggest weapons — Steele Walker and Kyler Murray — should be commended. However, the supporting cast of bats finally went cold on Monday, mustering up only four hits against the Bulldogs. OU pitching looked solid for the better chunk of the afternoon, but a wild pitch in the fifth and a passed ball in the eighth opened the game up. The Bulldog bats then went off in the top of the ninth to put OU away.
Levi Prater got the start on the mound for the Sooners, his first action since suffering an injury against Texas in the Big 12 Tournament, Prater went 4.2 innings, allowing three hits and three earned runs. Five receivers — Braidyn Fink (0.1), Cade Cavalli (2.1), Connor Berry (0.2), Austin Hansen (0.1) ad Kyler Tyler (0.2) — combined to allow five runs (four earned, all pinned to Hansen) on eight hits.
OU was able to get on the board and claim an early lead in the bottom of the second. The frame began with Brady Lindsly making it to first on a dropped third strike, and Thomas Hughes put OU in business by drawing a walk the next at-bat. After Kyle Mendenhall advanced the runners to second a third with a sac bunt, Justin Mitchell recorded an RBI groundout to bring Lindsly home and make it 1-0 in favor of the Sooners.
Mississippi State took the lead in the top of the fourth when Justin Foscue doubled off the chain-link fence in right to plate Elijah MacNamee and Tanner Allen. The Bulldogs then made it 3-1 in the top of the fifth when Rowdey Jordan’s single scored Dustin Skelton, who had just reached second on Braidyn Fink’s wild pitch. Three innings later, MSU made it 4-1 when Jordan reached home from third on a passed ball.
Things got ugly for OU in the top of the ninth with Westburg’s two-RBI single and Jake Mangum’s two-run homer. That effectively put things out of reach for the Sooners, who were never able to get anything going at the plate.