By JOHN SHINN
Oklahoma has the pressure of trying to secure an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament if it comes up short of winning the Big 12 tournament.
Although it’s just one game in pool play, the Sooners did move up three spots Thursday to No. 48 in the Ratings Percentage Index.
“I thought today was going to be real important because we had the third-best RPI. We had a good RPI and an RPI that’s deserving of getting into the tournament based on our league. Baylor had the next-best RPI,” Golloway said. “I thought that’s why it was important even thought West Virginia tied with us for third place. I thought the placing was important and I thought the RPI was important, too.”
Hindsight: OU catcher Anthony Hermelyn called the pitches for the second straight game. As long as OU keeps winning, it will stay that way.
“I grew up wanting to be a catcher. Big league catchers call their own games, so it’s definitely a great aspect to the game as far as being a catcher,” Hermelyn said. “It’s the conviction pitchers have whenever they trust whatever you put down. They know it’s their pitch and they execute their pitch.”
Golloway said the point of giving Hermelyn and the pitchers the responsibility of calling the game is to make them more invested. It’s working.
“They’re pitching and catching with courage and I wish we would have done it earlier. If I was smarter, we wouldn’t even be worrying about the bubble and that stuff,” he said. “The ability to do it is what makes it amazing and that’s why I wanted him in there. Jon would be the first to tell you that gives him tremendous confidence.
“They have ownership and that’s the biggest thing. When the players have ownership of their at-bat and they have ownership of their pitch and calling their pitch and blocking it, they seem to play better.”
Blue shirts: The Sooners wore sleeveless white uniforms Thursday, but they wore blue undershirts as a tribute to the tornado victims. The word “home” was overlaid over the state.
“I thought about that before I came in. I know that now that we’re playing baseball, the focus is now on baseball. But our thoughts are still in the right place,” Golloway said. “It’s kind of a haven for us to be able to come out and play baseball … Some were thinking about our shirts. They make a statement for themselves. This is our home. Those are our families and those are our friends.”
OU plans to auction the blue shirts as a fund raiser to help tornado victims.
For the record: Oklahoma improved to 37-19 overall and 1-0 in the Big 12 tournament with Thursday’s 2-0 victory over Baylor at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. The Bears dropped to 27-26.
Up next: The Sooners are scheduled to return to Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark at 9 a.m. today to face Texas Tech, which lost to Kansas State, 4-3, Thursday. OU coach Sunny Golloway said left-hander Dillon Overton (8-2, 3.08 ERA). The Red Raiders haven’t named a starting pitcher.
Kansas beats Mountaineers: Tucker Tharp and Michael Suiter each had two hits and two RBIs, leading Kansas to a 7-2 victory over third-seeded West Virginia at the Big 12 tournament Thursday night.
The sixth-seeded Jayhawks (32-24) broke open a close game with five runs over the final three innings. Kevin Kuntz drove in a run on Kansas' second squeeze of the game in the seventh, and Suiter's RBI single made it 4-1. Tharp's two-run double in the eighth stretched the lead to 6-2.
Michael Constantini had an RBI double in the second and Jacob Rice singled in a run in the eighth for West Virginia (31-26) in its Big 12 tournament debut.
Wildcats hold off Texas Tech: Jared King and Jon Davis had run-scoring sacrifice flies and Lance Miles scored on a wild pitch during Kansas State's three-run fourth inning, and the regular-season champion Wildcats beat Texas Tech 4-3 on Thursday at the Big 12 tournament.
King walked and scored on Davis' groundout in the second inning, then the Wildcats (40-16) came right back after Eric Gutierrez hit a two-run home run to put Texas Tech (25-29) ahead in the top of the fourth.
Blake McFadden (6-2) pitched 5 1-3 innings for the win.