The bases were loaded, and home-plate umpire Curtis Alexander wasn’t moving.
The fans roared, thinking they had just seen Missouri’s Taylor Parker throw strike three to Aaron Ivey. The Missouri players started out of their dugout, ready to celebrate a victory. But Alexander stood still behind the plate.
After a nerve-racking second, Alexander finally leaned forward, punching the air with his left arm, then his right.
Strike three. The celebration continued.
No. 17 Missouri survived a ninth-inning rally to beat Oklahoma 6-4 on Sunday at Taylor Stadium.
“(My heart) was pounding,” freshman right fielder Jacob Priday said. “Parker always comes in and does a good job. He’s a clutch guy.”
The win was important for the Tigers (30-10 overall, 10-5 Big 12 Conference) because it keeps them tied with Nebraska and Texas for second place in the Big 12. Baylor, at 13-5, is in first. It also gave the Tigers a win in their second-to-last home series.
“It’s probably one of the most important games of the year,” starting pitcher Doug Mathis said.
The Tigers had led 6-3 going into the ninth, but when reliever Andrew Johnston gave up a run, coach Tim Jamieson came out of the dugout and raised his left hand to call Parker out of the bullpen.
“I wouldn’t have brought him in if I didn’t have confidence in him,” Jamieson said. “He likes to compete in situations like that, and he’s a guy that obviously makes good pitches in tough situations.”
Parker had thrown 71 pitches in a game Saturday, but said he was ready when called upon Sunday.
“That’s kind of our deal, always be prepared,” he said. “You don’t want to be caught without anyone loose, so we always try to get somebody loose. Today we needed it.”
Mathis (4-2) had a 2-1 lead in the sixth when Sooner second baseman Russell Raley hit a two-out, two-run single to put Oklahoma (22-17, 6-9) on top.
But Missouri responded with two runs in both the sixth and seventh innings. The seventh-inning runs came without a hit. MU scored because of a passed ball on a third strike, three walks and a hit batter.
That gave the Tigers a three-run lead and a margin for error, but it took Parker’s strikeout in the ninth to nail down the win.
The left-hander gave up a hit to pinch hitter Jeff Scuderi, loading the bases, but then struck out Ivey on a 2-2 pitch that just grazed the outside corner. Parker said he wasn’t too concerned with Alexander’s delayed strike-three call.
“I was kind of unsure,” Parker said. “I thought it was a strike but I didn’t see a movement. I heard the fans start screaming, and I thought, ‘OK, that has to be a strike then.’ But I was definitely prepared to throw a 3-2 pitch at that point.”