OSU will host baseball regional; ORU wins its tourney

Oklahoma State (37-18) will play St. John’s (39-14) on Friday at 6 p.m. and ORU (41-14 will face Arkansas (35-22)  at noon Friday in Stillwater in the first round of the 2015 NCAA Baseball Championship.

Oklahoma State is host to an NCAA Tournament Regional for the second consecutive season. Regional winners advance to the best-of-three super regionals. The final eight teams will play in the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, beginning June 13.

Regardless of the rainy weather, the Tulsa Drillers staff and ONEOK Field did a great job hosting the Big 12 Baseball Tournament last week. Texas won the title by defeating Oklahoma State, 6-3, in the Championship game on Sunday, in front of 4,976 fans.

“Congratulations to Texas; from the time we got here on Tuesday to the very end, I thought we were in a really good spot as a ball club,” said OSU head coach Josh Holliday.

Even though rain threatened the entire five-day run of the tournament, not a single game was rained out. That’s a credit to head grounds keeper Gary Shepherd and his crew. I don’t know if anyone kept count as to how many times the grounds crew put the tarp on the field or took it off, before, during and after the games, but it had to be well over a dozen times. The field took a lot of rain, but somehow it was made playable all weekend long.

“Field conditions are there for both teams,” Holliday said. “I always consider that neutral to be honest with you. The same bounces, rhythms and challenges that the field offers us, are offered to the other side. I wouldn’t sit there and tell you it was an easy field to play today. It was a challenge, but I would say those are the elements we were dealt. You’ve got to win the elements, just as much as you do the execution.”

The Oklahoma Sooners came into the tournament as the No. 3 seed and lost their first game to #6 Kansas State, 7-3. OU went on to beat West Virginia, 6-1, and defeated Kansas State, 3-1, to advance to the semifinals against Oklahoma State.

OSU was the No. 2 seed and defeated West Virginia 7-0 in the first game of round robin play. The Cowboys then defeated Kansas State 10-1, and eliminated OU with a 5-1 victory.

The Cowboys advanced to the Championship game against the Texas Longhorns, who were also undefeated going into the final game. OSU led 2-1 going into the eighth inning, but Texas put a five-run rally together in the top of the eighth, to take a commanding 6-2 lead. OSU managed to get one run across in the bottom of the eighth.

“That’s just baseball,” Holliday said. “Sometimes those innings go back and forth like that. That’s just part of the game. Compliments to Texas. They’re a fine team. I’ve been saying that all year, but I’m very proud of our team. I thought this tournament was very good for us. There were a number of good outings up and down the staff. We’re disappointed that we didn’t win that game, but excited that we’ll have the opportunity to play next week.”

Texas, with a record of 30-25, received the Big 12’s automatic bid in the NCAA tournament, while OSU (37-18) also advanced to the national tournament.

ORU GOING TO DANCE

For the first time since 2012, the Oral Roberts University baseball team will play in the NCAA Tournament. The Golden Eagles (41-14, 25-5 SL) advanced to the national tournament by winning the Summit League baseball championship last weekend in Sioux Falls, S.D.

ORU shut out IPFW, 6-0, in the championship game, as freshman Bryce Howe, a Claremore native, pitched a gem of a game. Howe went seven and a third innings to pick up the win. He struck out seven batters and allowed only four hits. Howe set down IPFW in order from the fourth inning all the way to when he exited the game with one out in the eighth.

With the win, ORU moves to 52-2 all-time in The Summit League Tournament, and the Golden Eagles return to the postseason for the 25th time in program history. ORU has won 31 of their last 35 games dating back to March 20, and has shutout opponents seven times this season.

SPORTS EVENT OF THE YEAR

What do you think is THE sports event of the year?

If you said the Super Bowl or the Kentucky Derby or the Daytona 500, you’d be wrong. It may come as a bit of a surprise, but according to Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal, it’s the College Football Playoff (CFP).

Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal made the announcement during a recent event in New York City. Bill Hancock, executive director of the CFP, accepted the award in front of a crowd of more than 800 people.

“This award belongs to the university presidents and conference commissioners who worked collegially and with courage and foresight to create the playoff,” said Hancock. “The College Football Playoff belongs to everyone. We wanted folks to be able to touch this first one and to experience it. This award is a tribute to the great game of college football – to its passion, its traditions, the way people love their teams and count the days until the next season begins.  College football is a national treasure.”

The inaugural year of the College Football Playoff achieved tremendous success while preserving the best regular season in sports and protecting America’s rich bowl tradition. The playoff semifinals and national championship game, broadcast by ESPN, were the most-watched events in cable television history.

Other nominees in the category included the International Champions Cup, MLB All-Star Game, U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open (golf), the NBA All-Star Game and Super Bowl XLIX.