TULSA — Oklahoma found itself in a familiar position Friday night at ONEOK Field, scrambling to erase a late-inning deficit and stay out of an early hole in the Bedlam series.
The Sooners didn’t emerge from it, falling 4-3 to Oklahoma State in the first of the three-game, two-city series.
OU dropped to 34-15 overall and 11-8 in the Big 12. It’s now dropped five of its last six games. The Cowboys improved to 35-12 and 10-8.
Bedlam came down to two-out hits. The Cowboys got five of them with three scoring runs. The last was Cage Green’s single in the top of the eighth to score Robbie Rea.
The Sooners only had one. Hector Lorenzana belted a three-run homer in the bottom of the fourth inning that briefly gave them a two-run lead. They didn’t get another hit with runners in scoring position the rest of the night.
“That was the story,” OU coach Sunny Golloway said. “At West Virginia last week, all the runs came with two outs. We’re not finishing innings on the mound. We left 34 runners on base last weekend. We left them on base again tonight. It comes back to us executing a little bit better and being a little bit better.”
Actually, the Sooners only stranded four. The way the first inning ended set the scene for the rest of the night. With runners on first and second, OU catcher Anthony Hermelyn grounded into a double play. It was the first of three inning-ending double plays the Cowboys turned.
OSU’s Jason Hursh made all the pitches he had to. The right-hander threw a complete game that included nine strikeouts and just one walk. Hursh improved to 5-4 with the victory.
Hursh’s key was silencing the two-out rallies. The pitch to Lorenzana was the only two-out mistake he made all night.
“Other teams are acting with two outs and getting all the hits and taking advantage of our mistakes,” said OU left fielder Max White, who went 2 for 4. “We hit balls right at guys or didn’t have the right approach with two outs. It’s frustrating, but we have to keep these young guys focused.”
Golloway shuffled his pitching rotation, shifting staff ace Jonathan Gray to today’s 2 p.m. meeting with the Cowboys at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.
The hope was moving Gray and Dillon Overton — the Sooners’ two best pitchers — to the end of the rotation would give OU an advantage.
It might work. However, winning the Bedlam opener also has its perks. The winner of the opener has claimed the series the last seven years.
The Sooners chewed through two pitchers Friday night. Jake Fisher started on the mound and lasted 4 2-3 innings. The left-hander allowed three runs on five hits. One of the runs was unearned. The Cowboys got on the scoreboard in the third inning after Trey Whaley’s blooper to right field was dropped by Lorenzana when he collided with first baseman Matt Oberste. He scored on Saulyer Saxon’s RBI single.
It was a ball neither should’ve had to field. Right fielder Colt Bickerstaff got a horrible jump on the ball and wasn’t part of the play.
Ethan Carnes (2-3) took the loss. He went 3 1-3 innings, allowing four hits. The only run he allowed was Green’s go-ahead single in the eighth.
It was another game where the teams had to scratch and claw to score runs. Lorenzana’s homer was just OU’s 29th of the season and first in the last six games. It has to string together hits to generate any offense and it cannot afford to give them away either.
“We have to go attack, especially our pitchers,” Lorenzana said. “We have to take control of the game. We’ll get it done this week.”
It may still happen, but the hole was dug Friday night.
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