Middle Innings Costly in Big 12 Opener

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
MAY 21, 2014
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
W - Wheeland (9-0) 4.1 4 1 0 2 5
L - Curran (0-1) 3.2 5 3 2 1 2
S - N/A - - - - - -
Individual Leaders
OSU - Fish 4 1 2 6 0 1
OU - Aikin 5 1 4 0 0 0

OKLAHOMA CITY – The University of Oklahoma baseball team dropped its first game of the 2014 Big 12 Tournament 13-4 to No. 7 Oklahoma State in front of 5,878 at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark Wednesday evening. The loss moved the Sooners to an even .500 on the year at 28-28 while the Cowboys climbed to 42-14.

“We did exactly what we wanted to do,” opened head coach Pete Hughes after the game. “We wanted to jump out and set the tone and get momentum in our dugout. I thought the key point to the whole game was the bottom of the first when Oklahoma State answered and took away the momentum that we had garnered in the top half. Against a good team like that you better grab momentum and run with it and we weren’t able to do that”

The Sooners struck early with three runs on four hits in the top of the first. Sophomore center fielder Craig Aikin (Coppell, Texas) led off the inning with an infield single and then advanced to third on a passed ball and a sacrifice bunt from senior shortstop Hector Lorenzana (San Diego, Calif.). Aikin scored the first run of the game when freshman third baseman Sheldon Neuse singled up the middle. Oklahoma plated two more runs on RBI singles from sophomore catcher Anthony Hermelyn (McKinney, Texas) and sophomore right fielder Hunter Haley (Nacogdoches, Texas).

The Cowboys responded in the bottom half of the frame, scoring two runs on three hits and threatening for more with the bases loaded and one out. Sophomore lefty Jeffrey Curran (Long Beach, Calif.) came on in relief of freshman right-handed starter Jake Elliott (Coppell, Texas) and retired the next two batters in order to preserve a one-run lead.

Curran (0-1) took the loss despite three-strong innings of relief, retiring the first 10 batters he faced. He went 3.2 innings allowing two earned runs and striking out four, which matches his career high. The last time Curran faced the Cowboys he picked up a four-inning save, in a 8-1 Sooner win on May 17 at ONEOK field in Tulsa, Okla.

Oklahoma threatened again in the fifth, loading the bases on a two-base error and a pair of walks, but senior Oklahoma State reliever Vince Wheeland struck out sophomore Kolby Carpenter (Waco, Texas) to end the Sooner threat.

Oklahoma State loaded the bases in the fifth on a walk, an error and a bunt-single before plating three runs on RBI singles from juniors Zach Fish, and Tim Arakawa and senior Craig McConaughy. The three-run fifth gave Oklahoma State a 5-3 lead that it would not relinquish. The Cowboys tacked on six more in a sixth inning that included a grand slam from Fish.

The Sooners added a run in the seventh when freshman Sheldon Neuse (Fort Worth, Texas) scored on a passed ball after reaching on a lead-off single to left.

Aikin continues to be red-hot in May, going 4-for-5 for the night with a run scored. The four-hit effort pushed Aikin’s career-high hit-streak to 10 games, during which he is 22-for-45. He leads the Sooners with 22 multi-hit games this season. This was the second time in his career that Aikin racked up four hits. He last accomplished the feat against Baylor (5/3/14).

“I’m not disappointed,” Hughes said. “We have another day to play, and we have a great group of guys who play hard and play tough. We’ll see where that ends up, but I know we will have great effort from tough kids who respect the game.”

The Sooners will face the loser of Game 4, Texas or Texas Tech, at 12:30 pm Thursday afternoon in an elimination game. Oklahoma State advances to play the winner of Game 4 at 7:30 pm Thursday evening. 



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