Appalachian State falls 5-2, eliminated by Oklahoma
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Drew Harrison's first career start as a pitcher came in the biggest game of Oklahoma's season.
The former first baseman made it look easy, allowing just two runs in six innings and getting three RBIs from Jack Mayfield on Monday night as Oklahoma beat Appalachian State 5-2 to win the Charlottesville Regional.
Harrison (1-0), had worked only 9 1-3 innings this season before coach Sunny Golloway handed him the ball in the must-win game, a spot in the super regional on the line. He allowed just three hits and two runs, struck out four and walked three.
"I love pitching," he said with a wide, laughing smile. "It's a lot less stressful. Hitting was stressful for me."
The Sooners (42-23), who lost their opening game of the regional to the Mountaineers, eliminated Army and host Virginia on Sunday, then won twice against Appalachian State on Monday to advance to the super regional next week at South Carolina.
Oklahoma had 13 hits in winning the opener 14-6, and 10 in the clincher. It had just 11 hits total in its first three games.
"We were due. We've struggled this whole regional and our stats were nothing short of awful, but I think today showed what we really are capable of doing, and that's coming out and banging the baseball around." shortstop Caleb Bushyhead said.
They hope to carry it over to next weekend in Columbia, S.C., where the Gamecocks are two-time defending national champions and riding an unprecedented 19-game winning streak in the NCAA tournament.
Their last loss in tournament play was a 4-3 setback to the Sooners in 2010.
"I think that streak is outstanding, I think it's long and I think that we need to have something to say about it," Golloway said.
The Mountaineers (41-18) set a school record for victories in a season and were making their first NCAA tournament appearance in 26 years. They needed to win just one game Monday to claim their first regional title.
"This stings a lot," DH Daniel Kassouf said, "but it was a great ride getting here and I wouldn't trade it for the world."
Appalachian State got 11 hits and drew 10 walks in the first game, but stranded 14, including 10 in scoring position.
Oklahoma also went to work right away in the second game after Harrison allowed an RBI double by Kassouf in the top of the first. Bushyhead and Mistich walked with one out, and Matt Oberste singled in a run, his fifth hit and fifth RBI in as many at-bats.
With two out, Mayfield hit a liner to deep left off Jeffrey Springs (2-1), and Brandon Burris got a glove on the ball, which then squirted free as two runs scored, giving Harrison a 3-1 lead to work with. Spring gave up five runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings.
"That helped a lot," Harrison said. "Having that cushion helped me relax."
Appalachian State coach Chris Pollard was "blown away" by how Harrison performed.
"It's unbelievable," he said. "We got that guy on our team and we're running him out there on the weekend every weekend."
He didn't allow another run until the sixth, and Jordan John came back from pitching eight innings in the loss on Saturday and worked two innings. He left after Jeremy Dowdy singled to start the ninth, and Steven Okert retired the next three to end it.
After going ahead 4-1 in the third on Mayfield's sacrifice fly, Appalachian State pulled within 4-2 in the sixth on Daniel Kassouf's sac fly following Callaway's triple. In the bottom of the inning, the Sooners answered.
Garrett Carey singled with one out, and was erased when shortstop Callaway fielded Erik Ross' grounder up the middle at shortstop and opted to get to the bag himself. He got the out, but Ross beat his throw to first. Ross was then picked off, but the speedy outfielder beat the throw to second, and scored easily on Tanner Toal's single — hit first hit all weekend.
John worked the next two innings, allowing just one hit until Dowdy singled to start the ninth, and Okert finished it with a strikeout and two fly ball outs.