NORMAN — Oklahoma had who it wanted at the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning. The table was set for a rally to beat Rutgers and sweep a three-game series Sunday at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
But in baseball, the law of averages always catch up. Too many run-scoring opportunities and struggling pitching performances couldn’t be overcome in the Sooners’ 8-6 loss to the Scarlet Knights.
The ninth inning was OU’s last chance to turn things around. Mac James went 4 for 4, but Rutgers wasn’t going to give him a pitch to hit in the ninth inning. He walked on four pitches to load the bases for Hunter Haley with one out.
Haley was a 3 for 3 when he came to the plate with the bases loaded. But he just missed a potential game-tying or go-ahead hit. Instead, it was a towering fly ball to right field that wasn’t deep enough to score a run.
“I just got under it,” Haley said.
After Niko Buentello popped out to left field, the Sooners had stranded their 11th
baserunner en route to finishing the day 3 for 16 with runners in scoring position.
The Sooners (11-5) took a doubleheader from Rutgers (4-8) on Friday because of timely hitting. They belted out 15 Sunday, but they were behind most of the game.
“You try to figure out a way to win a game, and I thought we put ourselves in a position to do that this last inning. You always want to get that winning run at the plate. We had it at first base with two really good hitters up, so I give our guys a lot of credit for battling, but we’ve got to stay out of those situations so you don’t have to learn lessons through playing from behind,” OU coach Pete Hughes said. “I want to limit that as much as possible.”