The Norman Transcript

April 2, 2014

Sooners’ hitting slump continues as they fall to Cowboys in first meeting

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Oklahoma lugged the traits of an offensive slump to L. Dale Mitchell Park Tuesday night. The Sooners didn’t shake any of them after the 3-1 loss to Oklahoma State.

Pitching dominated, but the Cowboys got two out-of-character home runs. The Sooners stayed in their recent rut of untimely hitting.

“This is weird, and I don’t really know how to describe it,” said OU right fielder Hunter Haley, who went 1 for 4, collecting one of the three hits the Sooners mustered off five Cowboy pitchers.

Tuesday’s loss, which wasn’t a Big 12 Conference game, fell right in with the rest of the Sooners’ offensive struggles in the last six games.

They were 3 for 31 at the plate. The only run they plated came when Craig Aikin scored on a passed ball in the third inning. That marked the third time in the last six games OU has either been shut out or failed to pick up an RBI. Over that six-game span, it’s batted just .184 (35 for 190) and scored eight runs.

The sole reason OU (20-10) managed to win two of those games was dominant pitching allowed it to rally for a pair of 2-1 wins in last weekend’s conference series at Kansas.

The pitching was good enough to win Tuesday night as well. Robert Tasin (2-2) struck out seven over 41⁄3 innings. He took the loss because of two mistake pitches in the top of the second inning.

The Cowboys (20-9) have some pop in the lineup. They’d hit 17 home runs in their previous 28 games. None of them, however, came from catcher Cage Green or second baseman Tim Arakawa. Both blasted solo home runs in second inning.

“When you get an lead early, then every pitch isn’t life or death and every play, defensively, isn’t so crucial. Then everyone can relax and get comfortable in the (batter’s) box,” OU coach Pete Hughes said. “I think they started feeling comfortable after the first home run.”

The Sooners were antsy from start to finish.

OSU’s Tyler Nurdin (2-2) limited OU to one run on five hits over five innings. He walked four, but only the one he issued to Aikin in the third inning was costly.

Scoring runs requires base runners and timely hits. OU didn’t have any of the latter (0 for 5 with runners in scoring position) or many of the former (eight).

The Sooners’ final at-bat told the story of the night. OSU closer Brendan McCurry plunked Hector Lorenzana to lead off the inning. Perhaps, another rally was in the cards.

Lorenzana was quickly trotting back to the dugout after Niko Buentello grounded into a double play.

McCurry picked up his fifth save. He and three other OSU relievers held the Sooners scoreless over the final four inning, allowing just one hit.

If it only trailed by a run, OU could’ve played just to tie the game in the ninth and sacrificed Lorenzana into scoring position.

The Cowboys picked up an insurance run in the top of the sixth inning when Arakawa beat Lorenzana’s double-play throw from shortstop on a tailor-made double-play grounder. Arakawa’s speed kept the inning alive, and allowed Conor Costello to score.The run came off reliever Drew Krittenbrink. It was the only run OU’s bullpen allowed over 42⁄3 innings.

“All it takes is one hit to get that run and it’s a different ballgame,” Lorenzana said.

Until the Sooners get that hit, the results are not going to change.

John Shinn

Follow me @john_shinn

jshinn@normantranscript.com

 

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