As the Big 12 baseball tournament has finally reached its championship game on Sunday, the fourth-seeded Oklahoma Sooners will battle the seventh-seeded Kansas Jayhawks for an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament.
Both the Sooners and Jayhawks swept all three games of pool play to advance to the title game. The Sooners beat Baylor, Texas Tech and Kansas State, while the Jayhawks beat West Virginia, Oklahoma State and TCU.
Oklahoma head coach Sunny Golloway's team came into the tournament with an almost assured bid into the NCAA tournament despite a late-season skid that ended with a 2-1 series loss to the Kansas State Wildcats.
However, now the Sooners may be one win away from having a chance at hosting one of the regionals in college baseball's postseason.
The Jayhawks also ended their season on a slide in which they may have played their way out of the NCAA tourney. In the last series of the season at lowly Utah, Kansas was swept.
But now, after three wins, the Jayhawks may have earned back their spot in the postseason and are just one win away from guaranteeing that there's more baseball ahead of them.
As the saying goes, good pitching beats good hitting. That's been particularly true for both Oklahoma and Kansas in the Big 12 tournament.
The Sooners boast one of the best pitching staffs in the country, fronted by possible No. 1 overall MLB draft pick Jonathan Gray. In the conference tournament, the Sooners started out by going 21 innings without allowing a run before Kansas State hung one on the board in the last game of pool play.
Gray threw a complete-game shutout against Baylor, while Dillon Overton had over two dozen MLB scouts watch his five-inning shutout of Texas Tech, according to Okahoma's official baseball Twitter feed.
30+ scouts watching Dillon Overton fill up an entire section. Overton strikes out 3 in order in the 1st. twitter.com/OU_Baseball/st…— Oklahoma Baseball (@OU_Baseball) May 24, 2013
For the Jayhawks, they've gone as far as Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Jordan Piche has taken them. The reliever has appeared in all three games of pool play and has yet to allow a run.
In the regular season, Oklahoma won the three-game series over Kansas in Norman, Okla. 2-1. The Sooners won the first two games 12-1 and 2-1, with the latter going 10 innings. The Jayhawks bats came alive in the series finale, and Jayhawks head coach Ritch Price's boys walked away with a 10-8 win.
Who will win the Big 12 tournament championship?
With the three games between these two teams ranging the spectrum, it's difficult to get a grasp on who has the edge going into Sunday's championship game.
The Jayhawks probably need the win more than the Sooners, as Kansas is certainly on the bubble for making the tournament, while Oklahoma is almost assured a spot at this point.
Neither of the team's top pitchers will make the start on Sunday, so it will likely come down to who has the better offensive showing in the game. The Sooners have scored 17 runs in the Big 12 tournament, while the Jayhawks have scored just one less at 16.
So it appears that the teams are even in that aspect as well.
Regardless, Sunday's championship game will mean a whole lot to whoever wins. If Oklahoma wins the conference championship, the Sooners could get to stay in Norman for the first round of the NCAA tourney.
If the Jayhawks walk away with the trophy, all the ups and downs of the regular season will be wiped away as they will have assured themselves a spot in the postseason.
First pitch is set for 1:00 p.m. CT at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.