By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Oklahoma lost for the seventh time in the last nine games and continued a two-year streak of futility against Dallas Baptist with Tuesday night’s 6-4 loss.
However, it was more than just one loss in a 55-game regular season. This one exposed the holes OU has tried to hide all season.
Without Nos. 1 and 2 starting pitchers Jonathan Gray and Dillon Overton on the mound, the Sooners (35-17) don’t strike much fear.
They took another massive hit in the Ratings Percentage Index. The Patriots (27-26) were No. 168 heading into the game. They will rise after beating OU twice this season.
OU will sink heading into its final regular-season series at Kansas State, beginning Friday in Manhattan, Kan.
The Sooners could very well solidify themselves as an at-large team for the NCAA tournament or get excluded based on their performance.
Gray and Overton will start in two of those games. The reason OU’s now on the bubble is its inability to win games where they are not available during the week.
It dropped the last four — two to Arkansas-Little Rock and a pair to the Patriots — to end the regular season.
OU’s last non-weekend victory was March 26 at Oral Roberts.
“It could be our downfall. It could be the nail in our coffin,” OU coach Sunny Golloway admitted.
The biggest reason for the struggles was OU’s inability to develop a fourth starting pitcher.
Adam Choplick, who made his first appearance since suffering a muscle strain in his left elbow at Dallas Baptist two weeks ago, lasted just 2 2-3 innings, giving four runs on five hits.
“I thought we pitched the ball terrible,” Golloway said. “We pitched to them like they were Babe Ruth in the third inning. I don’t understand it.”
Everything fell apart for the freshman left-hander in the third inning. The Patriots loaded the bases with two outs after back-to-back singles by Michael Miller and Duncan McAlpine. Austin Listi inflicted the damage with a three-run double down the left-field line. Choplick issued a four-pitch walk to Mike Wesolowski before turning to Kindle Ladd.
“Once Chop walks a guy, then he’s afraid to walk anybody else and he started leaving balls right down the middle,” Golloway said. “It wasn’t very good.”
Ladd allowed consecutive RBI singles to K.J. Alexander and Chane Lynch before the inning ended.
The one difference between Tuesday’s midweek loss and the previous three was OU didn’t play from behind the whole game.
OU actually held a 1-0 lead after getting a couple gifts in the first inning. Max White reached on a two-out error by Dallas Baptist shortstop Nash Knight, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch by Dallas Baptist starting pitcher Paul Voelker.
It was the only run Voelker allowed. He threw three innings, allowing just two hits. Aaron Gilbreat (2-0) picked up the victory. He retired the Sooners in order in the fourth and fifth innings.
OU only had five hits. It went 3 for 18 with runners on base and just 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
“It’s been real frustrating,” OU shortstop Jack Mayfield said. “We’re lacking little things and we’re lacking those little runs.”
OU tried to rally late. Colt Bickerstaff came off the bench and picked up an RBI with an infield single to score Garrett Carey in the seventh inning. Kolbey Carpenter drove in a pair with a two-run single in the eighth.
Kindle Ladd was solid in relief of Bickerstaff. He held the Patriots scoreless until the ninth inning. Then he gave up a solo homer to Boomer Collins.
The only good thing to come out of OU’s performance was the guarantee it won’t have to play another game on Tuesday night this year.
“There’s no more midweeks,” Mayfield said. “We just have to work with our weekend bulldogs and try to score runs this weekend.”
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