For the better part of eight innings Oklahoma's baseball team did exactly what they were supposed to do on Tuesday night. However, in what has become somewhat of a frightening trend the Sooners failed to close out what should have been a win with a horrible ninth inning performance and this time around it was one of OU's most reliable pitchers who gave the game away.
Starting pitcher Jacob Rhame was very solid in the first two innings. He faced eight batters over those two innings and allowed no runs. It was the third inning that got Rhame in trouble and eventually saw him pulled.
After a Jack Mayfield home run put the Sooners up 1-0 in the top of the inning the Patriots responded by adding three runs of their own in the bottom half. Four of DBU's first five batters reached base against Rhame, including a three-run homer to put the Pats up 3-1. That would bring in sophomore Steven Bruce from the bullpen and he would deliver 2.2 scoreless innings for the Sooners. Facing a total of ten batters, Bruce only allowed three to reach base on hits.
Oklahoma tied the game up at 3-3 in the 5th when Jack Mayfield and Eric Ross scored after a Max White sacrifice. Mayfield was was an RBI for White and Ross scored on a throwing error.
Having retired three of the last four batters he had faced, Sooner Coach Sunny Galloway decided to go ahead and pull Bruce for Dillon Overton who was coming off a complete game performance over the weekend. The move paid off as Overton retired the side in the 6th inning, striking out two of the three batters.
Oklahoma regained the lead in the seventh when an Evan Mistich double to right field scored Jack Mayfield. With the Sooners now up 4-3 Galloway was in the mood for yet another pitching change. This time it would be Steven Okert coming in for Overton and he made quick work of the Patriots by duplicating Overton's 6th inning by retiring the side with two strikeouts.
After downing the first two batters of the 8th inning Okert was pulled after giving up a single to the third batter he faced. Jordan John has possibly been Oklahoma's most reliable pitcher and he entered the game in the eighth inning, immediately getting the third out needed.
Cody Reine and Dylan Raper both scored on a Max White blooper to give OU two more insurance runs but it wouldn't be enough because John was about to have a total meltdown. A walk followed by three consecutive singles put the Patriots at a one run deficit. Two batters later, John walked in the tying run and then gave up the game winning single to the very next batter.
There are several things that just don't add up here. Five pitchers? What if Overton or Okert got an extra inning of work? Between the two of them they only faced six batters. How much good does one inning of work do for you? I realize they are weekend starters and you don't want to wear them out so why not leave Bruce in there just a little longer?
I guess what I'm trying to say is that Bruce, Overton and Okert were all pulled when they were never in a jam of any sort and yet John was left to face eight batters who reached base in the ninth to give the game away. It just seems like Galloway totally over managed this game which led his team to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
What scares me the most about this loss is the confidence of Jordan John and the team itself. The Texas Longhorns are coming to Norman on Friday to open up conference play for the Sooners and Oklahoma will no doubt need John in that series. Do they have the confidence to go with him and does he, John, have the confidence to go after Texas batters? I guess we'll find out in two days.