Oklahoma head coach Skip Johnson had to watch his Sooners make two errors that ended up costing a game against Wichita State. Photo by Grant Cohen
WICHITA, Kan.— Oklahoma has emphasized the importance of on field communication, especially in late game situations.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Sooners’ infielders failure to communicate cost them a chance to knock off no. 26 Wichita State.
A dropped infield fly ball due to a miscommunication turned an out into the go-ahead run being on first base for the Shockers. Wichita State capitalized on another Oklahoma mistake when pitcher Austin Hansen threw a wild pitch that allowed Jacob Katzfey to score the leading run and give the Shockers the 2-1 victory at Eck Stadium on Tuesday night.
“When you’re in a big environment like this environment was tonight, we talk about executing our communication,” Oklahoma head coach Skip Johnson said. “When the pop up came on the infield…we didn’t say ‘take it, take it, take it.’ We didn’t know where the other guy was and that happens. That’s why you practice that and it was a big moment in the game. It’s a game of imperfection and [the errors] cost us the game.”
While the game ended with a sour taste for Oklahoma, one sooner player got a sweet taste of playing back in his hometown. Playing just 21 miles from his former Sedgwick High School in Sedgwick, Kansas, junior Brylie Ware led the Sooners with three hits in four at-bats in front of his hometown family and friends.
Ware came up with a leadoff double in the top of the second inning and eventually scored the game’s first run that gave the Sooners the early advantage. The homecoming ended with Ware coming up with a single that gave Oklahoma a fighting chance in the last half inning.
“It was good for him because he was in control of himself today,” Johnson said. “He made some good passes on balls, which was really big. He had a real mature at-bat right in the ninth right there was huge, it gave us a chance to tie the game or win the game. It was really good to see him be in control of himself because that’s the biggest thing we talk about: being in control of yourself one pitch at a time.”
Despite only giving up one hit, Wichita State coach Todd Butler elected to take redshirt freshman Alex Segal out after two innings and use five veteran pitchers to finish the final seven innings of play. The six Shocker pitchers finished the game by striking out 11 out of the 38 batters faced.
Wichita State’s pitching collectively forced the Sooners to leave a total of 10 runners on base and forced Oklahoma into four hits with a .125 batting average.
“These guys have been here. These guys are experienced,” Butler said. “This team is an older, veteran team. We have a lot of confidence and trust in them. They know what it’s all about, they’ve worked hard for years and this team here has a chance to do something special. It’s been fun to watch.”
After Ware’s single in the top of the ninth and a walk that put the tying and go-ahead run on base for Oklahoma, Butler went with his “best guy” in Chandler Sanburn. Sanburn took his first loss of the season against Creighton on Saturday, giving up a walk-off home run.
On Tuesday, however, Sanburn did not let the Shockers’ lead slip away. Throwing over 90 mile per hour fastballs, Sanburn struck out two of Oklahoma’s next three batters to clinch the Shockers’ 14th victory of the season.
“The whole team has complete faith in Sanburn, really all of our pitchers,” senior Trey Vickers, who tied the game with a home run in the second inning, said.“Whenever he came in, we knew he was going to fill up [the zone] and give us a chance to win. We wanted him to fill up the [strike] zone, get after it and do what he does.”