OU baseball: Sooners spend whole game coming back, can't quite finish

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Clay Horning, The Norman Transcript, Okla.
·3 min read
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Apr. 11—Almost nothing comes easily for coach Skip Johnson's Oklahoma baseball team and so it was again Saturday afternoon at L. Dale Mitchell Park.

At the plate, Kansas finished with twice OU's eight hits. On the mound, Sooner starting pitching was suspect again, Jake Bennett giving up five runs in the third inning before his team had put a runner across the plate.

Yet, somehow, thanks to a home run that was almost too crazy to believe, the Sooners were in position to score once in the ninth inning, or twice in the 10th, to win.

The Sooners managed a single baserunner in those two frames, left him stranded at first base and lost 8-7.

The schedule has relaxed for OU, yet after taking care of the Jayhawks (18-12, 2-6 Big 12) comfortably on Friday, the Sooners (15-15, 2-6) failed in their chance to win back-to-back conference games for the first time this season.

Graham would not have been in a position to tie the game had it not been for the big bat of Jimmy Crooks, OU's catcher.

Crooks opened the fourth inning with a towering solo home run over right field to put the Sooners on the board in what became a four-run frame.

In the seventh inning, trailing 7-4, Crooks smashed a deeper and longer shot on the same line, accounting for two runs, Graham having walked to open the frame.

"He's just a ballplayer," Johnson said of Crooks.

It was the next inning that Graham made it appear the Sooners might actually walk into the ballpark today looking for a sweep.

Conor McKenna and Brandon Zaragoza had already made outs when Graham, a right-handed hitter, offered at the first pitch thrown by Jayhawk reliever Daniel Hegarty, golfing it out of the park, opposite field.

Off the bat, it looked like a medium-hard liner Kansas right fielder Jack Wagner would have no problem grabbing, yet it just kept carrying to tie the game.

Too bad for OU, there was no more Sooner magic in store.

James Cosentino, Kansas' eight-hole hitting second baseman, won the game instead with his own towering shot over right field, accounting for just the second run Sooner closer Jason Ruffcorn has allowed this season and the first in conference play.

Warren gave up five runs over three innings, his earned run average ballooning to 7.34.

Jaret Godman allowed two runs over three innings but it was Carson Carter who gave the Sooners a chance to come back late, throwing two scoreless frames in the seventh and eighth innings.

Johnson summarized his team's season-long fate on the mound.

"What our pitching's done most of the year, we're really better in the middle and at the end," he said, "and we're just OK at times at the beginning."

Crooks, with the long balls, was the only Sooner with more than one hit. McKenna went 1 for 5, driving home two with a fourth-inning double.

Dealt a losing hand Saturday, the Sooners did everything but come back and win.

"Baseball is not fair," Johnson said. "It doesn't care how you feel."

The Jayhawks and Sooners are back at it beginning at 2 p.m. today.

Clay Horning

405 366-3526

Follow me @clayhorning

cfhorning@normantranscript.com