NORMAN, Okla.-- The Shockers (30-26) carried a lead into deep into the game before the Sooners put up a three-run sixth to halt the Shocks' hope of a first-game victory in the opening round of the NCAA Regional Championship.
Wichita State kept pace with nationally seeded Oklahoma, collecting six hits to OU’s seven, but fell one run short in its upset bid on Friday night in front of more than 3,700 fans comprised of Sooner and Shocker fans alike.
The Shockers were responsible for Oklahoma starter Andrew Doyle’s shortest outing of the season, tagging him for four runs on four hits before the end of the third inning.
After surrendering a homerun to the first batter he faced, starter Tim Kelley (5-4) settled into a groove for the next four innings before a three-run sixth chased the sophomore right-hander from the game. In 5.2 innings of work, Kelley allowed five runs—four earned— on seven hits, walking just two and sitting six down on strikes.
Although not quite Kelley’s counterpart, long reliever Chase Anderson (3-1) threw a nearly perfect 5.1 innings. The right-hander allowed just one hit and never surrendered a run to give the Sooners the room they needed to grab the come-from-behind victory.
Junior second baseman Will Baez paced the Shocker offense with a 2-for-2 performance that included a double, a pair of walks and two runs scored. The Sooners were led by first baseman Aaron Baker, who had a 2-for-4 day with a double and a homerun.
Baez set the tone for the Shocker offense as soon as possible. Hitting in the leadoff spot for the injured Tyler Grimes, Baez singled in the first at bat of the game. Junior centerfielder Ryan Jones joined him on the base paths by taking a walk before a long fly ball by junior first baseman Clint McKeever moved Baez to third. Chris O’Brien did his job as the designated hitter when he singled through the right side to drive in Baez, giving the Shocks the 1-0 lead.
The Sooners, however, wasted no time getting their offense started in their first trip to the plate. Leadoff man Jamie Johnson pelted his sixth leadoff homer of the season to the score just three pitches into the bottom half of the frame.
Both starters settled down to get through the second before the Shocks got hot again in the third. Baez earned a walk to start the inning and stole second, putting himself in scoring position for junior catcher Cody Lassley. Lassley answered with a single, and Jones followed that with a double to the right field wall to knock in Baez. The Shockers continued to build their lead with back-to-back sacrifice flies that plated each of them to give WSU the 4-1 edge. Doyle’s night came to an early end after hitting sophomore right fielder Ryan Engrav, the right-hander was relieved by Anderson.
In the meantime, Kelley found his groove, sitting the Sooners in order for the next two innings. Two strikeouts into the bottom of the fourth, first baseman Aaron Baker drilled a solo shot to center to narrow the gap, 4-2. The following Sooner fell victim to the strikeout, however, for Kelley’s fifth of the game.
On the flipside, Anderson was getting his work done as well. Since entering the game in the third, the junior did not surrender a hit until the seventh inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, Anderson’s hitters awarded his effort.
Kelley struck out the inning’s leadoff hitter, while catcher J.T. Wise reached on a walk. Baker stepped up next and slammed a double off the right field wall to land Wise at third and himself at second . Third baseman Garrett Buechele tied the game in the next at bat as his single to right drove the pair in. Worsening Kelley’s luck, a Shocker error stretched the inning, allowing a sacrifice fly to plate Buechele to swing the game in OU’s favor, 5-4. Although reliever Brian Flynn shut down the Sooners for the rest of the evening, the Shocker hitters were unable to provide him with any run support.
Wichita State will take on Washington State (31-24) on Saturday afternoon. The first pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.