NORMAN, Okla. -- In its first mid-week game of the season, the No. 25 (Collegiate Baseball) OU baseball team dropped a 12-2 contest to No. 28 Wichita State on Tuesday with 1,410 fans on hand at L. Dale Mitchell Park. The game drops the Sooners’ record to 9-4 while the Shockers improved to 10-2 overall and 9-7 against OU.
The crowd was the largest for the Sooners in a February home game since Feb. 7, 1999, when 1,680 fans were in attendance to watch the Sooners’ season-opening win over Emporia State, 10-3.
The Sooners got off to a quick start on Tuesday with a solo home run by Chuckie Caufield to lead off the game. But after Caufield’s first home run of the season cleared the left-field fence and bounced off the scoreboard, the Sooners only crossed the plate on one other occasion, a RBI single off the bat of Jackson Williams in the sixth inning. By that time, Wichita State had built a 4-1 lead and added onto that cushion with three runs in the seventh frame and five more in the ninth.
"Despite the loss, there were a couple positives to today's game," said OU head coach Sunny Golloway. "One thing was that today it allowed our hitters to get into a rhythm because they saw live pitching in a mid-week game for the first time this season. In addition, we also had a opportunity to roll out a fourth starter which we have not bee able to do this year. I thought Ryan Mottern had good stuff today but he didn't have command of the strike zone.
"Again, its early in the year and we still have a lot of areas to improve on. Today was just the 13th game of the season, but that doesn't take away the fact that we are always trying to claim a victory every time we step on the field. We hit some balls hard and they never really fell for us and our pitching was not sharp and that was the difference today."
Entering the contest against Wichita State, OU was 7-2 when scoring first. Wichita State joined Memphis and Lamar as the only teams to knock off OU after falling behind first.
Wichita State took its’ first lead of the game after three runs crossed the plate in the third inning. OU starter Ryan Mottern (0-1), who made his first start of 2006 and first since suffering a season-ending injury (elbow) last season at TCU on March 22, gave up three earned runs off two hits and two walks. Damon Sublett started the third-inning rally with a two-run home run that gave the Shockers a 3-1 lead. Earlier in the frame, Josh Workman drove in a run off a sacrifice fly to left field.
The OU bullpen, consisting of Nate Hammons, John Brownell, Will Savage and Nich Conaway, combined to allow nine earned runs with Conaway’s 1/3 inning marking the only spotless effort (strikeout).
Brownell (three runs) and Savage (five runs) had their personal streaks of holding the opposition to zero earned runs in consecutive outings end. Brownell entered the game without allowing an earned run in four-consecutive appearances (8 1/3 innings) and Savage compiled 3 1/3 innings over the three games prior to today.
Offensively, Tyler Hill led the Wichita State charge with a four hits and three RBI, while Sublet finished 3-for-5 with three RBI and three runs scored. Freshman Aaron Shafer improved to 3-0 after tossing five innings of three-hit ball in which he allowed one earned run and walked two batters opposite one strikeout.
The Sooners came up one hit shy of recording their 10th double-digit hit performance. Caufield led OU with two of team’s nine hits, the sixth time this season he has been tied or led the club outright in a game, and seven other Sooners connected for a base hit against WSU.
Today’s game was the start of a four-game home stand for OU and a stretch that will see the Sooners play seven of their next eight contests in Norman. UC Riverside comes to town this weekend for a three-game set that begins on Friday, March 3 at 3 p.m. The series continues on Saturday at 3 p.m. and concludes Sunday at 1 p.m. OU took two out of three games in the last time it met UC Riverside in 2004 at L. Dale Mitchell Park.