NORMAN – The No. 13 University of Oklahoma baseball team’s 12-game win-streak was snapped in a 4-2 loss to Wichita State at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Tuesday night. The setback moved the Sooners to 13-2, while the Shockers improved to 8-3.
In a game that lasted over four hours, only six total runs were scored on 11 total hits with WSU outhitting OU, 6-4. Oklahoma pitchers totaled 18 strikeouts and Wichita State pitchers totaled 11. Despite leaving 13 runners on base, the Shockers took advantage of eight walks, the hit batsmen, three wild pitches and stole five bases.
“Opportunistic plays,” said OU head coach Pete Hughes about the difference in the game. “It went their way, but that’s baseball. We didn’t get enough hits. I thought we pitched well enough to win, but we didn’t get enough hits today,”
However, it was the Sooners who struck for the first run of the night. Sophomore left fielder Steele Walker (Prosper, Texas) lifted a two-out double off the wall in left to extend his hit-streak to 18 games in the third inning. One batter later, Walker came home on a groundball smashed through the left side by senior first baseman Austin O’Brien (Owasso, Okla.).
Wichita State scored all four of its runs in the middle innings. Catcher Gunnar Troutwine drew a walk to ignite a two-out rally and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch and scored on a single by second baseman and nine-hole hitter Jordan Boyer.
In the fifth, the Shockers got the first two aboard against OU sophomore right-hander Dylan Grove (Moore, Okla.). Redshirt-junior lefty Austin Kerns (Owasso, Okla.) then came in out of the bullpen and got a strikeout for the first out of the inning before a double steal put both runners in scoring position. The Sooners drew the infield in and first baseman Josh DeBacker promptly hit a groundball right at second, but a bobble allowed the go-ahead run to score as Oklahoma had to settle for getting the out at first.
Sophomore right-hander Connor Berry (Sugar Land, Texas) was called upon to pitch the sixth for the Sooners. He struck out the leadoff man before allowing a single up the middle. A groundout to third moved the runner into scoring position with two down and then Berry walked a pair to load the bases. Freshman lefty Braidyn Fink (Moore, Okla.) was the next man up in the OU bullpen. Called on to get Wichita left-handed hitting right fielder Greyson Jenista, Fink got the groundball he was looking for, but was ruled to have missed the bag by the first base umpire in an attempt to get the force. Jenista was safe as Fink tumbled away from the infield with the ball; allowing two unearned runs to score.
“We had our chances; we battled at the end there,” added Hughes. “I love where our team is at. It’s hard to win them all in baseball. Fink makes a great pitch in a huge opportunity and a situation right there and they score two runs. The ball never left the infield, so that’s baseball. We’ve got to create more opportunities for ourselves.”
Freshman catcher Brady Lindsly (Keller, Texas) hit a leadoff-single in the bottom of the fourth and the Sooners did not record another hit until freshman shortstop Brandon Zaragoza (Moore, Okla.) singled to bring the game-winning run to the plate with one out in the ninth. Oklahoma’s night would come to an end with runners on the corners after a fly ball dies at the warning track and a called strike three finished the game.
Grove (0-1) took the loss in four innings of work. He gave up two runs on four hits and four walks with a career-high nine strikeouts. Right-hander Tommy Barnhouse (1-0), the third Shocker pitcher of the game, earned the win in two innings of relief. He allowed one unearned run on a walk and struck out three.
The Sooners finish off a 19-game homestand at the end of this week with four games against Buffalo. The series starts Thursday, March 9 at 7 p.m. and wraps with a Saturday doubleheader, which is the team’s annual “Bark in the Park” day, beginning at 2 p.m.