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OU Baseball Goes 1-3 This Week

By: Dave Myrick

DBU

Oklahoma opened an eight game home-stand Tuesday against the annual mid-week thorn, the Dallas Baptist Patriots. Dating back as far as I can remember, DBU, has played Big12 schools, particularly Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, to the nail. Tuesday was no different as DBU jumped out in front thanks to the long ball in the top of the second inning. In what would be a “johnny all staff” pitching night for Oklahoma, as they would cycle through NINE pitchers, with Jett Lodes getting the start. After striking out the side in the top of the first, Lodes would give up a lead off home run to start the second, and be pulled from the game. As was the case the rest of the night for OU pitching. The offense was only able to string three hits together for the game. DBU would add two more on another home run in the fourth. That’s all the Patriots would need as OU was shut out for a 6-0 final. The first time since 2022 at Wichita State OU failed to record a run. Jett Lodes would get the loss.

West Virginia

Oklahoma welcomed the West Virginia Mountaineers to Norman three days later for a 3-game conference set, and boy oh boy did it open as perfect as it could. Braden Davis got his normal Friday night start, and was as dominant as any pitcher in college baseball this season. Davis, who would pick up the win (2-1 on the year), threw 7.0 innings, struck out twelve, including the last EIGHT IN A ROW he faced while throwing 106 pitches. Oh, yea, I almost forgot…didn’t allow a hit either. That’s right. He exited the game with a no hitter in progress, with a pitch count that high the Oklahoma staff had no choice but to take him out. Worry not, Reid Hensley would take over in the eighth and strike out three more Mountaineers, keeping the no hitter in tact. OU’s first combined no-hitter as a staff since 2005.

Oklahoma outfielder Kendall Pettis (7) is congratulated by teammate Bryce Madron (12) after making a diving catch to end the inning during an NCAA baseball game against Tennessee on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

Michael Snyder was the offensive star in this one, going 2/3 with 3 RBI, adding to his team leading total of 33 on the season. Oklahoma didn’t need much scoring due to the aforementioned pitching, but WVU starter Ayden Major struggled mightily. Walking six, allowing five runs on just two hits. OU would score often and steady the rest of the way, pulling away from WVU for a game one blowout win 13-0, and about as perfect an opening series script as one could write.

Saturday was moved to a double-header in front of expected nasty weather in Norman Sunday. And was not perfect. As Sooner starter Brendan Girton would last only 3.1 innings, allowing three earned runs on three hits, striking out six with a wild pitch and three walks. Carter Campbell who had been touched up for a two-run shot against DBU earlier in the week entered for Girton, and would allow seven hits and three more earned runs to give the Mountaineers a 6-2 lead headed to the sixth. Oklahoma would try to fight early in this contest, as Carmichael’s RBI single int he third cut it to a 2-1 deficit, but that is as close as Oklahoma would get over the next sixteen innings of baseball. a Reed Chumley home-run in the seventh pushed the lead to 9-2 WVU, and put the cherry on top of a game two win, evening the series as one a piece with a 9-5 final.

Game two of the double header, and rubber match for the Sooners and Mountaineers with Oklahoma needing a win to stay perfect in league series, saw about as polar opposite a start on the mound for this one when looking at game one for Oklahoma, as someone could imagine. Jamie Hitt got his regular third in the rotation start, and had a disastrously bad top of the first inning. Hitt, who would take the loss (2-2 on the year), surrendered one, two, three, four, FIVE HOME RUNS through 1.1 innings pitched. Sooner Coach Skip Johnson would say after the game, HItt was tipping his pitches. Something was going on because it was like watching pre-game batting practice. Whatever the reasoning, the result was a 6-0 West Virginia lead in the literal blink of an eye. Oklahoma would try to fight back in the bottom of the third on a SAC fly from Easton Carmichael, and an RBI single by Mike Snyder to cut it to 6-2.

Entering in the second inning after the fifth home-run, was OU fire-baller Kyson Witherspoon. If you are looking for some good news in the double-header stinger that was WVU sweeping the day and winning the series, it is Kyson Witherspoon. He was once again, as good as any pitcher in league play, or anywhere for that matter. Coming in cold, facing a six run deficit, Witherspoon would throw 7.1 innings of one run baseball. Striking out ELEVEN from a line-up that was raking all afternoon on 98 pitches. His brother Malachi was brought in to pitch the ninth of a game long decided, and gave up one run to make it an 8-3 final. As OU struggled for the second game in a row, and third of the last four to get anything going offensively.

Summary

Oklahoma head coach Skip Johnson during warm-ups before an NCAA regional championship baseball game against Liberty on Friday, June 3, 2022 in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

Kyson has looked like a starter all season long. And for all the reasons you love having a guy like him coming out of the pen to close games/go long relief, I think he is too valuable to not start. I would expect to see him get his chance soon, especially with the struggles of Saturday and Sunday starters Brendan Girton and Jamie Hitt, resptively.

Oklahoma didn’t really have time to think in Fort Worth after the John Spikerman injury, which occurred late on a Saturday night win, with OU taking the field the next morning. They’ve had time now. Throw in the loss of another .340+ hitter in Carter Frederick, who broke his thumb two days after the Spikerman injury, and all of a sudden you have an offense that had no issue scoring runs… looking for answers. Newcomers Jason Walk and Isiah Lane have been thrust into the lineup due to Spikerman and Frederick’s injury, and are going to have to pick up the slack if OU wants to maintain first place in the Big 12 until at least Spikerman can return. I have been told 3-4 for Spike, pain tolerance will be a big factor, and six to eight weeks for Frederick.

Pitching is also sorting itself out, as the Friday night slot looks secure, but everything else in the rotation is unsettled. Ryan Lambert out of the bullpen may be one to watch. Austin Henry is at full go after some back problems, still working out some control issues. LSU transfer Jason Bollman is coming off Tommy John surgery, and is completing throwing progressions, getting closer.

Attendance. For a decent day weather-wise I heard a lot of chatter about attendance against WVU. It was somewhat bad luck that softball, originally scheduled two-hours apart from baseball, ended up starting the same time as baseball due to moving games for weather. That had a lot to do with it, but I will say this to that, The Dale has been packed for a couple of big games the last few weeks with nothing else happening on campus. And OU lost both, in blow-out fashion. Love em or hate em, OU fans will remember that on weekends when deciding what to do. We saw it in basketball as the year progressed, and home wins did not. In short, the team has to do their part. They can start Tuesday against ORU. The Golden Eagles, coming off an Omaha run of their own last year are off to a rough start as the sit 1-5 in conference play, and 9-15 overall. Oklahoma finishes off the last four games of their home-stand stepping out of conference to host Lamar in a Thursday-Saturday series. And has a single game against the Shockers of Wichita State on Tuesday, April 2nd.

Oklahoma Returns to action Tuesday, March 26th at 6:30 CST to take on the ORU Golden Eagles