NORMAN — A slow start wasn’t Oklahoma’s problem on Saturday. Perhaps that issue has been rectified. What was evident after its 9-5 loss to West Virginia is it has more problems than solutions.
The loss, which dropped the Sooners to 25-15 overall and 4-6 in the Big 12 Conference, was confounding. Mainly, because the Sooners, who have played from behind a lot this season, had a four-run lead in the sixth inning.
Relief pitching which has been a calming presence since opening day, inflamed a West Virginia rally instead of dousing one.
A team that once thrived on scoring runs late in games was outscored 6-1 in the final three innings.
“When you have a chance to really build on a lead and take the wind out of someone’s sails, which we were capable of doing because we left that many guys out there, it’s deflating,” OU coach Pete Hughes said. “We missed our opportunity.”
The Sooners only left six base runners stranded, but grounded or lined into four double plays. It was the second time in three games the Mountaineers turned four double plays.
Each sucked more momentum away from the Sooners.
The last came in the eighth inning when Sheldon Neuse worked a leadoff walk and OU appeared to have something going. James hit a sharp grounder to second that resulted in an easy double play.
The Sooners didn’t turn any. They would’ve have come in handy. Only one of West Virginia’s runs came via a two-out hit.
Saturday started as well as possibly could. Mac James put OU up 2-0 in the first inning with his second two-run homer in the series. Hunter Haley followed with a solo shot.
The RBI single Craig Aikin delivered in the second inning gave the impression OU was rolling.