OKLAHOMA CITY – For this NCAA regional weekend, several of Trevor Boone’s family members and friends are said to have been clad in T-shirts with a hashtag message on the front: #BooneBomb.
Dating to his years as a little-guy baseball player in Tulsa and a high school star at Memorial, Boone has bashed a bunch of home runs.
Never before, however, has he belted one that was this emphatic and meaningful.
After Oklahoma State had languished offensively during most of its Saturday night meeting with Nebraska, there was a ninth-inning rally.
A few minutes before midnight – with two out, with Nebraska leading 5-3 and with teammates Christian Funk and Andrew Navigato on base – a #BooneBomb shocked the Bricktown Ballpark crowd of 4,814.
Before Boone walked to the plate, there was a message from Cowboy coach Josh Holliday: “If you get a fastball, put a good swing on it.”
On the first-pitch fastball delivered by Husker reliever Colby Gomes, Boone put a great swing on it. The Cowboy junior smashed a three-run homer that sailed beyond the CHICKSAW BRICKTOWN BALLPARK sign positioned high above the left-field wall.
It was estimated that the Boone shot traveled 430 feet, and the result was a dramatic, 6-5 Oklahoma State victory that carried the Cowboys to within one victory of the regional championship.
“He’s an aggressive hitter,” Husker coach Darin Erstad said of the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Boone, “and there’s a lot of power there.”
OSU overcame a 5-0 deficit. If not for Jake Lyons, there might not have been Boone’s opportunity for ninth-inning glory.
In a 92-pitch performance of brilliant and stabilizing long relief, Lyons retired 16 of the final 17 batters he faced.
“This is one of the best moments I’ve ever shared with a group of guys,” Holliday said. “There were a couple of clutch, in-the-moment swings. We did a good job of getting on base (ahead of Boone’s heroic at-bat).
“It was a special win and a great night.”
Before Ben Leeper pitched the ninth and recorded his seventh save of the season, he was in the Oklahoma State bullpen and watched Boone’s home run crash-land on Flaming Lips Alley behind the stadium.
“Off the bat,” Leeper said, “we knew it was gone. We knew it was 6-5.”
Nebraska and UConn are matched in an elimination game at noon Sunday. That winner faces Oklahoma State at 5 p.m. If the Cowboys emerge from this double-elimination regional, they advance to a super regional next week. The most likely scenario has OSU playing at Texas Tech.
If the Red Raiders fail to advance beyond the regional they are hosting this weekend, OSU would host a best-of-three super regional.
If the Cowboys (38-18) are defeated on Sunday, the decisive game would be played at 6 p.m. Monday.
On Saturday night, in a winners’ bracket game that started 96 minutes later than scheduled because of afternoon rain in downtown OKC, the Cowboys left five runners on base through the first two innings.
Before OSU lefty starter Parker Scott could record an out, the Cowboys trailed 3-0. For the Huskers in the opening inning, there were a Jaxon Hallmark single, a Cam Chick single and an Aaron Palensky home run to left.
“This is a game I’ll remember,” Palensky said. “I just wish we were on the other side of it.”
Nebraska starter Matt Waldron was outstanding. Before leaving the game in the eighth, he had given up only two runs while recording 11 strikeouts – the highest single-game total for any Husker pitcher since 2010 (when Nebraska was a member of the Big 12).
The Cowboys were scoreless until the sixth, when Carson McCusker homered. With two out in the eighth, Boone scored on Bryce Carter’s double to right-center.
Appearing to have sustained a right-shoulder injury when he collided with Husker shortstop Spencer Schwellenbach at second base, Carter had to leave the game. Holliday is uncertain whether Carter will be available on Sunday.
“None of this happens without (Lyons),” Boone said. “We stick together, play baseball and Leeper closed the door.”
UConn 10, Harvard 2: UConn hitters seem extremely comfortable at the Bricktown Ballpark. Through 18 innings of NCAA play in OKC – in a Friday loss to Nebraska and the Saturday rout of Harvard – the Huskies got a total of 36 base hits.
On Saturday, UConn got big production from its eighth and ninth batters. Thad Phillips and Chris Winkel scored four runs, totaled five hits and had four runs batted in.
Shut out by Oklahoma State on Friday, Harvard is the first team to bet eliminated in the OKC regional.
OKLAHOMA STATE 6, NEBRASKA 5
OSU 000 001 014 – 6 12 0
Nebraska 302 000 000 – 5 8 1
Scott, Lyons (3), Leeper (9) and Simpson; Waldron, Schanaman (8), Gomes (9) and Hellstrom. W: Lyons (5-2). L: Gomes (0-3). HR: OSU, Boone (20), McCusker (6); Nebraska, Palensky (7).
UCONN 10, HARVARD 2
UCONN 070 101 100 – 10 17 0
HARVARD 011 000 000 – 2 6 1
Wang, Kersten (2), Simeone (5), Haus (8) and Winkel; Miller. Stovern (2), Stone (6), Maclean (8), Forte (8), Shaw (9) and Peterson. W: Simeon (2-1). L: Miller (3-4).