After being delayed by a day due to the tragedy in Moore, Okla., the Big 12 baseball tournament got underway on Thursday afternoon in Oklahoma City at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
Because of the one-day delay, the format of the tournament changed from bracket play to pool play. Two pools of four teams will play each other over three days, with the winners of both pools playing on Sunday for the Big 12 tournament title. Pool One consists of Kansas State, Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas Tech, while Pool Two is made up of West Virginia, Kansas, Oklahoma State and TCU.
Oklahoma - 2
Baylor - 0
WP: Jonathan Gray, 9.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 12 K
LP: Dillon Newman, 8.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
Led by a complete-game shutout by Jonathan Gray, the Oklahoma Sooners took the opening game of the Big 12 tournament 2-0 over the Baylor Bears.
Both pitchers threw complete games, but Baylor starter Dillon Newman couldn't overcome Gray, who is projected as potentially the top pick in the MLB draft this summer.
Gray got out to a bit of a shaky start to the game as his first six pitches were balls. However, catcher Anthony Hermelyn came out to chat with Gray after that, and Gray settled down and dominated for the rest of the game.
"Hermelyn came out and talked to me and told me that everything is going to be fine, we'll find the zone, it'll get better as it goes," Gray said. "I kind of worried about that early, but I threw to contact and the defense behind me made some plays, and everything went from there."
Thursday's win for Oklahoma also marked the first time the team, which is from Norman, Okla., a town that is just south of Moore, has played since the tornado. The players wore powder blue shirts underneath their jerseys during the game with an outline of the state of Oklahoma and the word "home" emblazoned on the front.
According to the Oklahoma sports information department, the shirts will later be auctioned off to help with relief efforts.
The Sooners continue their pool play on Friday at 9 a.m. against the Texas Tech Red, while Baylor plays Kansas State at 12:30 p.m.
Kansas State - 4
Texas Tech - 3
WP: Blake McFadden, 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1BB, 3 K
LP: Trey Masek, 8.0 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 3K
Big 12 Freshman of the Year Jake Matthys closed the door on the Texas Tech Red Raiders to earn his seventh save of the year and give the Kansas State Wildcats a 4-3 win to start the tournament.
Starter Blake McFadden for the Wildcats earned the win after allowing five hits and three earned runs in 5.1 innings pitched.
First baseman Shane Conlon had the hot bat for the Wildcats, going 2-for-4 at the plate with a run scored. Right fielder Jon Davis also had two RBI despite not getting a hit on Thursday.
"It was just a really good, clean ballgame," said Wildcats head coach Brad Hill. "We were fortunate enough to come out on top."
For the Red Raiders, who are the last seed in the tournament, they held a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth inning after a home run by Eric Gutierrez that bounced off the left field foul pole. Gutierrez's homer was his fourth in as many games.
However, the Wildcats responded with three runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 4-2 lead and never looked back.
The Wildcats continue play tomorrow against the Baylor Bears at 12:30 p.m., while the Red Raiders play the Oklahoma Sooners at 9 a.m.
Kansas - 7
West Virginia - 2
WP: Thomas Taylor, 7.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
LP: Dan Dierdorff, 7.0 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
The Kansas Jayhawks got on the board with two runs in the first inning, then a solid outing from starting pitcher Thomas Taylor carried the Jayhawks past the West Virginia Mountaineers 7-2 on in the first game of the Big 12 tournament for both teams.
Taylor was brilliant on Thursday night, pitching 7.1 innings and only allowing two earned runs.
"That's pretty much the guy he's been all year," said Jayhawks head coach Ritch Price. "I can't tell you how proud I am of his development, and he's become a legitimate Friday night starter in this conference."
The Jayhawks were clinging to a 2-1lead from the second through the sixth inning until two runs in both the seventh and eighth innings by the Jayhawks put the game out of reach.
Kansas' center fielder Tucker Tharp was hot at the plate Thursday night, going 2-for-3 with two RBI.
As for the Mountaineers, they've certainly had an emotional ride during this trip so far. The team was featured on CNN for its efforts to provide relief to the victims in Moore.
"That's something I'll never forget," said West Virginia head coach Randy Mazey. "I told these guys 15-20 years from now, we'll look back at this tournament and we won't remember the scores of the games, but we'll remember what we were able to do to hopefully help some people."
The Jayhawks will face Oklahoma State on Friday at 7:30 p.m., while the Mountaineers are slated to play TCU at 4:00 p.m.
TCU - 8
Oklahoma State - 4
WP: Trevor Seidenberger, 5.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K
LP: Vince Wheeland, 2.2 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
With one out and the bases loaded in the top of the ninth inning and the TCU Horned Frogs trailing 4-2, a shallow fly ball by first baseman Derek Odell found the grass in center field and two runs crossed to tie the score at 4-4. A wild pitch and an intentional walk later, shortstop Keaton Jones was hit by a pitch to give the Horned Frogs a 5-4 lead.
TCU ended up scoring six runs in the ninth inning then held the Oklahoma State Cowboys scoreless win the game 8-4.
"Obviously it was a great win for us tonight," said TCU head coach Jim Schossnagle. "I am really proud of the way we competed in the first four or five innings."
Errors were a big reason the Cowboys let the lead slip as they committed three of them during the game.
Another huge factor was Horned Frogs pitcher Trevor Seidenberger, who provided over five innings of relief and held the Cowboys scoreless.
Friday will pit the Horned Frogs against West Virginia at 4:00 p.m., while the Cowboys will play Kansas tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.
*All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.