LUBBOCK, Texas - It was not hit, a swing and miss or even walk that lost the game for Texas Tech.
It was a player from Lubbock, TX and a wild pitch that cost the Red Raiders their first chance to move on to the College World Series.
Defensive blunders helped the Oklahoma State baseball team defeat TTU, 6-5, on Saturday.
Before any pitches were thrown in the ninth inning sophomore Noah Sifrit was subbed into left field with the Cowboys leading 5-4.
Sifrit, playing in his hometown, didn't have an at-bat heading to the bottom of the ninth with his team having surrendered the lead in the top half of the frame.
Six pitches later, the hometown kid became OSU’s first runner on with a walk.
Two at-bats and two wild pitches later, Sifrit made his way to third base as the winning run with senior Christian Funk coming up for what could have been his final at-bat as a Cowboy.
Thankfully for OSU, Tech pitcher Taylor Floyd’s control issues wouldn’t stop there.
The first pitch of Funk’s at-bat bounced right past catcher Braxton Fulford and Sifrit and his teammates in the dugout raced to see which could make it home to celebrate their walk off win faster.
“Once they tied it up in the last inning,” Sifrit said. “I knew I was the first one to lead off the game so my mentality was just to get on base and get my team a chance to win, and there were passed balls, and I took every opportunity I got.”
Sifrit has played in 15 of OSU’s 60 games this season. For OSU coach Josh Holliday, his impact on the game was no surprise.
“He's put on display the attitude that you have to have amongst your team for a team to truly function and that is someone who has accepted his role and worked hard at it,” Holliday said. “And that's not the first time that Noah has been the one to step on home plate to win a game. His discipline to draw a leadoff walk against a pitcher with very explosive pitches was big. His trust in himself to take the extra base from first to second to get into scoring position was big, and then obviously with a shorter backstop at this ballpark, to get enough of a jump to score from third is not a gimme. Sometimes the backstop is significantly further back, and it's an easy read. This is a field where you have to be very on point with your read, so very proud of him. He definitely contributed to that win in a big way."
OSU arrived at the top of the ninth with the lead thanks to two crucial home runs from unlikely sources.
In the fifth inning, freshman second baseman Hueston Morrill hit his second home run of the season to give OSU an early 3-1 lead.
“Out of the hand I saw it was a curveball,” Morrill said. “It hung. Yesterday I missed a hanging curveball. Got it again today and didn't miss it.”
Colin Simpson’s fly out during game one of the Super Regional was the biggest of many missed chances for OSU.
In the eighth inning of game two, Simpson made up for his missed opportunity. He hit what looked to be the biggest hit of his season, if not career, a two-run home run to left followed by a bat flip for good measure.
Prior to the at-bat, Simpson had been in a slump during the previous five games hitting .137 in the Oklahoma City regional and the first game of the Super Regional.
“It is a relief,” Simpson said. “I struggled a little bit through the year, and I finally found my swing, so to be able to come up in big situations like that and get the big hit that the team is being looking for, it's a great feeling and definitely relaxing.”
OSU and Tech will play in a third and final game on Sunday at 5 p.m. with the winner going on to the College World Series.