And then there were two. On a day in which none of the four Big 12 NCAA Tournament teams had any margin for error and needed to avoid a loss to remain on the road to the College World Series, two teams fell out of the race and two others had to win two games on Sunday to stay alive.
Oklahoma and Baylor, both with one win and one loss coming into Sunday's NCAA Regional action, pulled out day-night victories and will play on Monday for the championship in their respective regions. Baylor, one of the host regional sites, eliminated Oral Roberts 5-2 Sunday afternoon, which handed the top-seeded Bears an opening-game loss on Friday, then came back Sunday evening to turn away No. 2-seed Dallas Baptist by a count of 9-2. These same two teams will meet Monday night for the Waco Regional championship.
For a while on Sunday, it looked doubtful Oklahoma would get past fourth-seeded Army in the Charlottesville (Va.) Regional. The game was tied at one apiece after nine innings, but the Sooners pushed across a run in the first extra frame to squeak out a narrow victory despite getting only five hits. That put the Sooners in an evening contest with host team and top-seed Virginia, which lost earlier in the day to Appalachian State, the same team that handed No, 2 seed Oklahoma its only regional loss thus far on Friday night.
To do that, though, the Cavaliers needed to get by Oklahoma sophomore left-handed starter Dillon Overton. The Sooners broke open a tight game with a three-run fourth inning, sparked by a bases-clearing triple by second baseman Jack Mayfield, that put OU up 4-0. Oklahoma stretched its lead to 5-1 before getting a big scare in the top of the ninth, when the host Cavaliers tallied three times before the OU bullpen was able to close out the game, preserving a 5-4 Sooner victory.
OU now advances to the championship series of the Charlottesville Regional against third-seeded and unbeaten Appalachian State, which the Sooners must defeat twice to claim the title and move on to the round of 16.
Along with Baylor, Texas A&M also was one of the 16 regional sites for the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament. The Aggies, a No. 1 seed, got off to a fast start with a victory on Friday with a 4-1 win over Dayton, but then lost their next two games to Mississippi and TCU, and were eliminated from the tournament by the Horned Frogs on Sunday. TCU, which pounded out 13 hits after getting 28 the day before in a win over Dayton, scored three times each in the fourth and fifth innings to salt the game away and send the host team packing.
Missouri advanced to Sunday's action by beating New Mexico State Saturday night in the Tucson Regional, but that's where the fourth-seeded Tigers' Cinderella-like postseason and final season in the Big 12 came to a crushing end with an 11-3 loss to Louisville. The Cardinals battered Missouri pitching for 20 hits in the game.
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