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March 22, 2014

Sooners rally past ’Cats with big fifth inning

NORMAN — Because Mac James was able to do what he did, Anthony Hermelyn was able to do what he did and Taylor Alspaugh was able to do what he did … and so on and so on and so on.

All it added up to was a near-perfect opening to Big 12 Conference play Friday night at L. Dale Mitchell Park.

Just like that, Kansas State is no longer riding a 12-game winning streak. And just like that, the Sooners, by virtue of their 11-4 victory over the Wildcats, are off and running.

OU banged out 18 hits, more than it had all season but for a 20-hit outburst against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. And, eventually, those hits were put together.

What the Sooners did in the bottom of the fifth inning may be a model going forward, no matter how hard it may be to repeat.

It was a primer in not giving in. 

James had two strikes on him when Kansas State starter Levi MaVorhis all but completely fooled him with a two-out, two-strike pitch in the bottom of the fifth inning.

“That’s something we work on every day, not giving in with two strikes, not trying to do too much,” James said. “I about check swung, and luckily Hunter Haley was stealing and it kind of left me a hole.”

So here’s what happened.

James singled to right field, then Anthony Hermelyn singled up the middle, plating Haley, who’d opened the frame with a single.

Next, Alspaugh flared a single to short right field to bring home a run, before Keach Ballard singled to left to put OU up 4-3. 

Then Hector Lorenzana laced an RBI double before Craig Aikin walked, which brought Haley to the plate for the second time in the inning. And all Haley did was hit the Sooners’ first grand slam in almost three full seasons.

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