Considering where they were coming into the tournament, Kansas put together an impressive run this weekend. Having lost six in a row, prospects weren't bright. In the end, though, they were simply overpowered by the Oklahoma Sooners in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship final.
Oklahoma jumped all over the Jayhawks right out of the gate. You don't get to check off catcher's interference on your bingo card, because we already took care of that yesterday. But we had another one today, which is just crazy; Ka'iana Eldredge got called for it in the top of the first, putting Max White aboard. It led to a run when Hector Lorenzano ripped a single to right after Matt Oberste drew a walk. Oberste scored on the next pitch when Frank Duncan rifled a fastball into the dirt which got away from Eldredge. Then Anthony Hermelyn singled, scoring Lorenzano to give the Sooners a 3-0 lead.
Justin Protacio singled to lead off the bottom half, and Kevin Kuntz recorded his absolutely stupid 30th sacrifice of the season to move him over. After a wild pitch moved Protacio to third, Michael Suiter flew out to left, and Protacio was able to score to make it 3-1.
Jack Mayfield singled to lead off the third for Oklahoma. He was erased on a grounder to short by White, but the throw to first was wild. Oberste made the Jayhawks pay for that miscue, jacking a high-and-tight pitch several rows deep into the left field seats to put the Sooners up 5-1.
With a four-run lead, Tucker Tharp on first base with one out, and it only being the bottom of the third, Sunny Golloway did something baffling: he called on the Sooners' usual closer, Jacob Evans, to face the most notorious bunter in the Big 12. Kuntz didn't bunt, though; he ripped a liner toward right. Lorenzano made a brilliant diving stab, and Tharp was still standing at second base when Lorenzano flipped to first for the double play.
Leading off the fifth for the Jayhawks, Dakota Smith doubled down the line into left. He was only able to move to third when Connor McKay ripped a single to right, but he came home when Eldridge lofted a fly to left. McKay should have moved to second on the throw home, but didn't. That was temporarily relevant because Tharp laced a single to left which could have scored McKay from second; instead, Kansas had runners at first and second with one out. A balk moved them up, but when Protacio grounded to the right side Lorenzana went home and McKay was hung up. Tharp moved to third, and Protacio raced around to second during the brief rundown, but they were left there when Kuntz hit a smoking liner right where Evans happened to have his glove. He caught it almost on accident, and the inning was over without any further damage.
Kansas mounted one more threat in the eighth, getting two runners on with one out, but Golloway brought in Kyle Hayes to replace the tiring Evans (who threw five innings). A pair of groundouts stifled the rally.
Oberste put the game away for Oklahoma in the top of the ninth, slapping a two-run single to give the Sooners a 7-2 lead; Hayes polished off the Jayhawks to earn the save.
It was a huge win for a team which we need to remember was directly affected by Monday's tornado. Norman and Moore are right next to one another, and the storm had a major impact on the OU community. Now, after years of heartbreak in this tournament, the Sooners have a Big 12 Championship trophy to haul home.