Oklahoma baseball: Top-seeded Sooners defeat Kansas, one win away from Big 12 Tournament title game


Malachi Witherspoon shutdown a Kansas rally in the ninth and the top-seeded Oklahoma baseball team held on for a 7-5 win over the Jayhawks and advanced to the Big 12 Tournament semifinals on Friday.

The Sooners (36-18) could see Kansas again Friday afternoon at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. Oklahoma will face the winner of a Friday morning elimination game between No. 7 KU and No. 9 TCU, both of whom the Sooners have already defeated in this tournament as well as three times each in the regular season.

Kansas took an early 3-1 lead, scoring three unearned runs in the top of the second off of Oklahoma starter Kyson Witherspoon on just one hit, a walk and three costly Sooner fielding errors. The Sooners got a run back in the bottom of the second on singles by Anthony Mackenzie, Kendall Pettis and Scott Mudler.

OU scored three times on three hits in the fifth to go up 5-4 and take the lead for good, the big blow coming on a two-run home run to right center by Jaxson Willits. The Sooners added two more runs in the seventh on a pair of triples by Easton Carmichael and Jackson Nicklaus and a single by Michael Snyder to expand the lead to 7-4. That's the way things stood until the Jayhawks pushed across a run to cut the OU lead to 7-5.

Jake English, the Kansas leadoff hitter in the ninth, reached base on an error. That was followed by a double by Lenny Ashby, placing runners on second and third with no outs. The Sooners changed pitchers at that juncture with Malachi, the twin brother of Kyson Witherspoon, the Sooner starter, entering the game in relief of Dylan Crooks. Malachi retired three of the four batters he faced to end the game, leaving two Jayhawks stranded on base.

Kyson Witherspoon worked the first 4.0 innings, giving up four runs (only one earned) on two hits and striking out six. He was followed to the mound by Carter Campbell, who worked three scoreless innings and Crooks, who worked all of the eighth and into the ninth before Malachi Witherspoon came on to in the ninth to record the save. Campbell was awarded the win, his fourth of the season without a loss.

The Sooners pounded out 14 hits off of three Kansas pitchers but were extremely sloppy in the field, charged with seven costly errors. Kansas had just four hits in the game but left 13 runners stranded on the base paths.

Kendall Pettis recorded three of Oklahoma's 14 hits. Four other Sooners collected two hits apiece.

The one hitch with Friday's semifinal showdown with either TCU or Kansas is the loser will be eliminated while the winner will move on to the championship game on Saturday night. OU is 2-0 in the Big 12 Tournament. The Horned Frogs and Jayhawk are both 1-1.