NORMAN — When the sun rose on Sunday, Oklahoma truly believed it had broken out of its slump. It was coming off a 13-7 victory over Baylor. The seven-game losing streak was over and it arrived at L. Dale Mitchell Park thinking it was nine innings away from starting a winning streak.
But what OU showed in Sunday’s 10-5 loss to the Bears is what has been perplexing all the season. The same mistakes keep replaying on a loop as the losses continue to pile up.
The loss, which caused OU (26-23, 6-12 Big 12) to drop its fourth straight conference series followed a familiar script. The starting pitcher struggled. Defensively, OU chipped in a couple costly errors. The bats went when needed most.
Ralph Garza Jr., lasted just three innings and gave up eight runs. The Sooners committed two errors and could’ve have easily been charged with a third. OU didn’t score a run after the fourth inning.
Teams can get away with some deficiencies if they have overwhelming strengths. Scoring runs was obstacle to previous two season. OU overcame it with dominant pitching — especially starting pitching.
The Sooners lack that luxury, and it showed in the Baylor series. They’ve only had two clearcut starting pitchers all season. Adam Choplick has made 12 starts this season and no relief appearances. Freshman right-hander Jake Elliott has made eight starts. But he’s been out for five weeks with a back injury.
Hughes believes Elliott (2-3, 3.61 ERA) will be able to take the mound when the Sooners go to red-hot TCU for a three-game series on Friday. Elliott will likely get the start in the series finale on Sunday.
“We sure need him,” Hughes said. “We’re hoping he can start next Sunday. Who knows how far we can stretch him out? He hasn’t been on the mound and he’s only thrown two flat (not on a pitcher’s mound) bullpens. I don’t how far his outing will go. But we plan on having next weekend.”