Missouri wins big 12 baseball title, Baylor, Texas A&M hosting regionals
OKLAHOMA CITY – There are two certainties about virtually every Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship at Chickasaw Ballpark here.
A team “on a mission” will advance to the tourney finals, and the conference will get a team needing to win the tourney or pick up a couple of triumphs for the all-important NCAA Ratings Percentage Index into another step of the postseason process.
In the case of 2012, Missouri, which had been on a fairly decent roll (a series win in the Big 12 at Texas and victory at Kansas in the last diamond meeting of those longtime rivals for the foreseeable future to end regular-season activity), achieved both goals.
Coach Tim Jamieson’s crew got sterling relief work from Plano’s Jeff Emens (who ended May 27 activity with a 3-1 record, 2.58 ERA, 30 appearances, there saves, most importantly 80 1/3 innings, 61 strikeouts, and only 15 walks issued) throughout the tournament and surprised No. 4 seed Oklahoma 8-7 in the finals to get an automatic bid via the Big 12 title.
“We said before the season started that if we could get 80 good innings out of seniors like Jeff Emens,” Jamieson observed, “it would be a productive season. Plus, we had been to seven straight NCAA tournaments, and we really missed going the last two years.”
Emens, who helped the Tiger staff breeze through the first 18 innings of the meet with just one walk and only five total runs surrendered in the opening three games for MU at OKC, was just as pumped.
“We told the coaching staff whatever we needed to get it done, we would do,” he said with a smile. “Things just seemed to come together at just the right time in Oklahoma City.”
That also was the case for Mizzou veterans lefty Jake Walsh (2-3, 3.41 ERA of Dallas and Dallasie Patrick Quintanilla, who contributed a .313 average in limited action. They helped provide the impetus for Missouri’s first Big 12 baseball crown as the Tigers leave for Southeastern Conference competition in 2012-13.
“We have been close and runnerup four other times (including a 10-9 squeaker in 10 innings to Texas A&M in 2011,” noted the MU head coach, “and it was so good to get this one. I honestly don’t think the players used the final championship for our school in the Big 12 as motivation. I’m sure it was in the back of their minds, but our main goal was just to keep playing.”
Coach Sunny Golloway’s Oklahoma crew, representing OU in the tourney finals for the first time since Oklahoma downed Texas Tech 19-17 in the first Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship at defunct All Sports Stadium here, knew it had an NCAA bid virtually assured coming into the activity.
Still, the Sooners breezed through three consecutive foes, including a Baylor team OU downed in five of the Bears’ 14 losses through the Big 12 event, and made a heroic full before falling. The final out actually was a base hit – Chase Simpson of Flower Mound singled to right, but the ball glanced off the foot of Caleb Bushyhead for the final out of the contest with the potential go-ahead run camped at first base.
Golloway’s crew (38-22 overall entering NCAA play) has gotten ample offense from such standouts as Bedford’s Hunter Lockwood (11 homers, 39 RBI) and Del Rio’s Jack Mayfield (three HR, 26 RBI) while relying on seasoned arms lefty Jordan John (8-6, 97 strikeouts) of Corpus Christi and Rowlett’s Steven kert (8-7, 71 whiffs). The Sooners will need a full arsenal as they trek to the NCAA Charlottesville Regional against host Virginia, Southern Conference winner Appalachian State (Friday’s opponent) and record-setting (41 wins in 2012, Patriot League champ) Army.
Missouri (32-26) has been sent to the Tucson Regional against host Arizona, Louisville and upstart New Mexico State. Baylor (44-14 and a Top Eight NCAA seed) will host Oral Roberts, Dallas Baptist and Texas-Arlington in what some are dubbing “three church schools vs. a public.”
Texas A&M (42-16 and ranked as high as seventh nationally in one poll) greets Dayton (first-time NCAA baseball tourney participant), TCU and Ole Miss Friday-Sunday/Monday in the College Station Regional. The 16 regional winners will meet again June 8-10/11 in the NCAA Super Regionals to determine the field in the 66th annual NCAA Baseball World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb., June 15-26/27. Last summer Texas and Texas A&M represented the Big 12 in the championship, won for the second successive year by the South Carolina Gamecocks of coach Ray Tanner.