By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The alarm bell blared at L. Dale Mitchell Park Tuesday. For about 6 and a half hours and 18 innings it rang while Oklahoma faced Arkansas-Little Rock in a doubleheader. The Sooners never rose, dropping both games, 5-2 and 4-3.
It was the kind of game that was dreaded on the schedule. The Sooners were playing a non-conference game two days after an emotional 12-10 loss at Baylor on Sunday. It was initially scheduled for one game, but was switched to a doubleheader to make up for the rained-out game against Oklahoma State on April 2.
The Sooners (28-10) looked like a team that if you asked where they would rather be than at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Tuesday, they could have easily come up with nine different places.
The hangover from Sunday’s loss was apparent.
“We tried to get it out of our minds,” said OU designated hitter Matt Oberste, who went 4 for 7 in the games, “but it didn’t work out that way.”
Instead, OU had a lethal concoction of woeful starting pitching and a complete lack of clutch hitting do it in.
Arkansas-Little Rock (18-18) dominated on the mound. Travis McDonald held OU to two runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings. He also struck out three in the opener. The effort improved his record to 1-1.
Ethan Schlechte (4-4) was three outs away from a complete game in the nightcap. Oberste’s ninth home run of the season — with Justin Burba aboard — ended that effort. Tyler Buckley got the last three outs to get his second save.
The Sooners didn’t have that kind of effort from its starters or most of its bullpen.
In the opener Corey Copping (0-1) went 5 1/3 innings, but the freshman right-hander gave up five runs on eight hits. His command was solid with five strike outs and no walks, but when he left the game OU trailed 5-0.
That saddest part about OU’s offensive effort Tuesday was only three of the five runs it scored came on RBIs and just one was from a batted ball. Craig Aikin picked one up with a bases-loaded walk in the seventh inning of the first game. Oberste’s two-run homer in the night cap accounted for the other two.
Adam Choplick continued the streak of erratic starting pitching in Game 2. The freshman left-hander, who only went two-thirds of an inning in the 12-10 loss to Baylor on Sunday, lasted just two-thirds of an inning Tuesday night. He gave up two runs and three hits before his day ended after just 14 pitches.
The bullpen had an up-and-down night, too. Kindle Ladd held the Trojans scoreless over 4 1/3 innings. However, Jake Fisher recorded three strikeouts to get OU out of a jam in the sixth inning, but gave up a solo homer to Bryson Thionnet to lead off the seventh.
Over the two games, OU was 0 for 15 with runners in scoring position and 2 for 18 with two outs.
OU coach Sunny Golloway didn’t talk to reporters after the doubleheader. Oberste was the only player to do so before a long team meeting in the Sooners’ clubhouse. There was a lot to discuss.
“We’re in a hole right now,” Oberste said. “We have good pitching, but the days the pitching performs, the hitting doesn’t always come out. Sometimes the hitting is there, but pitching suffers. We’re working on it; we’re gonna get it back together.”
For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.