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OU baseball: Improbably, Sooners can't quite sweep Cowboys

  • 2 min to read
Bedlam Baseball

Oklahoma’s Conor McKenna celebrates a home run Sunday during the Sooners’ game against Oklahoma State at L. Dale Mitchell Park.

NORMAN — Oklahoma may have resuscitated its baseball season, winning the Bedlam series for the first time since 2016.

Yet, Sunday’s getaway game may nonetheless go down as the season’s biggest missed opportunity.

Up two runs entering the top of the ninth, the Sooners came up short to the Cowboys, falling 8-7 in 12 innings.

How OU lost wasn’t as dramatic as how it won Saturday’s middle game of the series, when closer Jason Ruffcorn threw 6 2/3 innings and more than 100 pitches, but may have been equally unlikely.

Brandon Zaragoza, the dean of the Sooner infield, committed two errors at his shortstop position, each one trying to get a double play started too quickly.

Had those twin-killings happened, five of Oklahoma State’s runs would never have crossed the plate.

Had Zaragoza simply gotten the first out in each instance, Caeden Trinkle’s three-run home run in the fourth inning would have been a two-run shot and Carson McCusker’s RBI single in the ninth would have plated the Cowboys first run of the frame, rather than the second and tying run.

There was also the case of OU first baseman Tyler Hardman, who entered hitting .433, yet left at .418, going 0 for 6, striking out three times.

All that and OSU reliever Kale Davis, who took Saturday’s loss, allowing two runs over two innings in which he threw 34 pitches, earned Sunday’s victory, working 4 1/3 in which he struck out seven and threw 75 pitches.

The contest was not without another bold move from OU coach Skip Johnson, either.

Though he’d hoped Carson Carter could nail down the save, bringing him in to pitch the ninth inning, when Carter opened walking Trenkle and Max Hewitt, Johnson went to Plan B, bringing in Wyatt Olds, who’d gotten Friday’s victory, allowing one hit over five innings, throwing 105 pitches.

Had Zaragoza not committed his second error, Olds likely would have stranded both of the runners he inherited and been credited with his first save.

OU’s failure to finish also meant the 4 1/3 scoreless innings thrown by Luke Taggart in relief of starter Braden Carmichael were in vain.

Taggart entered in the fourth inning, following Zaragoza’s first error, Henkle’s home run and a free pass Carmichael issued to Hewitt.

Olds needed three pitches to get Christian Encranacion-Strand to ground into a double play and only exited after striking out seven, allowing two hits, no runs and walking one.

Conor McKenna went 2 for 4 for OU, earning all three of his RBIs with a second-inning home run. Brett Squires connected for a solo shot in the same inning, marking his third home run in three days against OSU. Jimmy Crooks went 3 for 5, scored once and drove in a run.

The Sooners fell to 22-20 and 6-9 against Big 12 competition. The Cowboys improved to 25-14-1 and 8-10.

OU’s scheduled to play a non-conference contest against Texas Tech in Amarillo on Tuesday.

Though it won’t matter in the standings, it could still have postseason implications.

The Red Raiders are ranked No. 11 by the coaches and, though they lost Sunday, took two-of-three at No. 3 Texas over the weekend, a series victory that should only improve the No. 21 RPI they took to Austin.

Friday, OU will begin a three-game set at West Virginia, hoping to sweep and get back to even in conference play.

Clay Horning

405 366-3526

Follow me @clayhorning

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