The Norman Transcript

OU Sports

March 23, 2014

Another big inning gives Sooners shot at sweep today

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Most teams have a couple of guys heat up from time to time. If they’re lucky enough to have guys on base when they come to the plate, they can carry a team. But that typically falls apart after a couple of games. Hot hitters quickly run out of pitches to hit — especially when it’s a Big 12 foe toeing the rubber.

The Sooners believe their lineup — one through nine — has the ability to break a game open at any time. They were 15 for 37 on Saturday, lifting their team batting average to a conference-best .312 through 24 games.

“It feels like everyone’s timing is spot on right now,” Lorenzana said. “I think everyone is seeing the ball well.”

Kansas State’s bullpen absorbed most of the punishment.

Starting pitcher Jared Moore went 42⁄3 innings, allowing two runs on six hits. When he left, the game was tied. The Sooners roughed up Jake Whaley (1-1), who took the loss, and Jake Matthys for a combined nine runs on nine hits over 22⁄3 innings.

The Sooners did not take the lead until Neuse’s RBI double in the bottom of the seventh inning off Whaley. Once they grabbed the advantage, an avalanche of runs followed. Seven of OU’s 15 hits and eight of the runs came in the eighth inning off Matthys.

James’ grand slam — his third homer of the season — was the emphatic blow and lifted the Sooners’ lead to 8-2 at the time. It was the second time in two games OU has separated itself from Kansas State on a bases-loaded blast. Hunter Haley belted a grand slam in the Sooners’ 11-4 win in Friday’s series opener.

Both are thriving under Hughes’ free-swinging approach.

“I think they understand my mindset when it comes to offensive baseball. Any baseball player is going to enjoy that because they’re not handcuffed in any other way,” Hughes said. “When you can play free and not worry about making mistakes or having bad swings, you tend to be a better offensive player.”

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