Sooners take home Big 12 Tournament trophy
Jono Greco, The Oklahoma Daily
Sooners on All-Big 12 Tournament Team
Junior pitcher Jonathan Gray (Most Outstanding Player)
Freshman catcher Anthony Hermelyn
Junior first baseman Matt Oberste
Junior second baseman Hector Lorenzana
Senior third baseman Garrett Carey
Senior center fielder Max White
OKLAHOMA CITY Oklahoma baseball coach Sunny Golloway does not believe hugs are given away freely.
Hugs, at least between baseball players and coaches, are special. They’re unique.
They’re for when a team wins a championship, which is what the Sooners (40-19) did Sunday afternoon.
OU defeated Kansas, 7-2, in the Big 12 Tournament championship game at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City to earn the program’s first conference tournament title since 1997.
“You hug each other after you’ve dog piled; that’s when you hug each other,” Golloway said. “My enjoyment is knowing (the players) did dog pile and then getting to hug each and every one of them.”
The Sooners jumped out to a three-run lead in the first, then junior first baseman Matt Oberste took over. He launched a two-run homer over the left field fence in the fourth to up OU’s lead to 5-1 and delivered the knock-out punch with a two-run single in the ninth to put the game out of reach.
“These last few weeks our bats have been struggling, but we’ve been able to figure it out,” said the team’s leading hitter.
But the pitching staff is what's carried this team for most of the season, and freshman reliever Jacob Evans carried the team through the middle innings when the offense was not producing. Evans tossed five innings of one-run ball and earned the victory out of the bullpen to earn his seventh win of the season.
“I was struggling a little bit there at the beginning of the game today, and I got down on myself,” Evans said. “After the first inning, I just calmed myself down, and I just tried to go out there and do what I did all season.”
But Evans did a little more Sunday than what he was asked to do all season. While he has been called upon to close out games and get the team out of major jams, Golloway and Co. had only asked him once before to do what he did Sunday.
Evans’ five innings tied his career-high for longest outing. He threw that many innings when he tossed the final five of OU’s 15 innings against Oral Roberts on March 19.
Golloway’s club had a shot last season to win the conference tournament but fell one game short of taking home the trophy, which made winning the 2013 tournament crown much more satisfying, senior center fielder Max White said.
“After playing four years in this great conference and coming up short last year, it’s very rewarding and humbling,” he said.
Sunday’s victory marks the Sooners’ 40th win of the season, which marks the fifth straight season in which Golloway’s club collected that many wins.
“We want to be a model of consistency over the long haul, so 40 (wins) was going to be a challenge for us; we knew that three weeks ago,” Golloway said. “We let some slip away early, and we’re right back there to 40. I’m proud of the body of work.”
After not knowing if the postseason was a legitimate option just a week ago, the Sooners now get to sit back and wait to find out where they will play next. Winning the Big 12 Tournament earned the club an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament, although this team probably earned a spot after Friday’s victory against Texas Tech.
The field of 64 will be announced at 11 a.m. Monday, but until then, Golloway, his coaching staff and players have plenty of hugs to pass around within that clubhouse.