The Norman Transcript

March 24, 2014

Sooner offense cools down in shutout loss to Wildcats

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — In the first two games of its series with Kansas State, Oklahoma displayed an explosive ability to score runs.

However, combustion needs a spark. The Sooners didn’t create one in Sunday’s 5-0 loss to the Wildcats at L. Dale Mitchell Park.

Kansas State pitcher Nate Griep consistently dosed the Sooners with ice-cold buckets of water. He threw a complete-game three-hitter and only needed 106 pitches to achieve it.

“He was pretty good,” said OU left fielder Hunter Haley, who went 2 for 4. “We hit some balls hard, but they were right at guys. We just didn’t get big hits like we had the past two days.”

The Sooners (18-7, 2-1 Big 12) secured the series with Saturday’s 11-2 victory over the Wildcats. It was the second straight game they chalked up 11 runs.

If there was a letdown Sunday, OU coach Pete Hughes wasn’t willing to admit it.

“I thought we had a great pregame, a great batting practice today, more than the other two days,” he said. “We just didn’t execute in the game. It’s difficult to sweep somebody, but when we’re that close, we’ve got to figure out and lock in a way to do it. We’ll move on and learn.”

What did change was OU’s approach at the plate. In the first two games of the series, it laced line drives and ground balls all over L. Dale Mitchell Park. On Sunday, 15 of the 27 outs the Wildcats recorded came via fly balls.

Lifting a ball high into the air on Sunday was unproductive. The wind — as it did in the series’ first two games — blew in from left-center field. Those balls were not going anywhere other than foul down the right-field line or into fielders’ gloves.

Griep used the elements to his advantage from the get-go. He only struck out two, but also only issued one walk. He showed no fear challenging hitters.

It took too long for OU freshman right hander Jake Elliott to figure it out. He lasted four innings — his shortest outing in six starts. Elliott (2-3) allowed four runs on six hits and three walks to go with three strikeouts.

The Wildcats (14-9, 1-2) put him on the ropes in the third inning. Ross Kivett’s RBI single and Austin Fisher’s sacrifice fly staked Kansas State to a 2-0 lead.

If the damage would have stopped there, the Sooners might have stood a chance. But Tanner DeVinny’s two-out, two-run single doubled the lead.

It might as well have quadrupled it. The Sooners only put four runners on base all afternoon and two were erased by double plays. Griep had them as flustered in the ninth inning as they were in the first.

“He kept the ball down, worked both sides of the plate and did a really good job,” Hughes said. “He three-hit us. With red-hot bats, that kid pitched a really good game for them.”

John Shinn

Follow me @john_shinn

jshinn@normantranscript.com

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