The University of Oklahoma baseball team scored two runs in the eighth and two in the ninth, but it wasn't enough as it fell to Texas-Arlington, 6-5, at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Tuesday night. The Sooners dropped to 25-17 overall, while the Mavericks improved to 18-23.
"We had our chances early, then we went five innings without a hit," reflected head coach Pete Hughes. "We always try to rally late and it's always a little too little. We have to figure out how to play better in the middle innings and we've got to get our bullpen back to feeling better. That was the story of the game. We gave up 13 hits, we had eight. They turned more double plays than us. We left the same amount of men on base. It was a wish and prayer to get a hit there by Hunter Haley. We got beat long before the ninth inning and that last at-bat."
Trailing 6-1 in the eighth, Oklahoma began its comeback attempt beginning with a lead-off single by sophomore center fielder Craig Aikin. The Sooners loaded the bases with one out and sophomore left fielder Hunter Haley was hit by a pitch to score Aikin. Sophomore first baseman Anthony Hermelyn then cut the lead to three with a base hit through the left side that plated one. The Mavericks were able to limit the damage to two runs by turning their third double play of the day to end the inning.
"We do it at a rapid pace," Hughes said of hitting into the twin-killing. "When you're not super fast and have team speed and aren't super athletic, innings get shortened. Teams that can run and beat that stuff out, they score runs with productive outs, they extend innings, they extend pitch counts. We're not that team. We need to get to be that team, or else we need to keep the ball elevated, keep it off the ground."
Freshman starting third baseman Sheldon Neuse moved from shortstop to the mound and pitched a perfect ninth inning to keep Oklahoma within reach of UTA. Junior Keach Ballard, who played both third and short, led off with a hit by pitch and Aikin singled for the second time to put two runners on with one out.
Redshirt-junior right fielder Taylor Alspaugh hit an infield single to the hole at short that loaded the bases to bring up Neuse. Facing the Mavericks' seventh pitcher of the night and fourth of the inning, Neuse got jammed on a 2-2 pitch and muscled it out to right field to score two runs. Following a groundout that put two runners in scoring position with two outs, it took the eighth pitcher of the night to put the Sooners down for the count.
Right-hander Jess Amedee started and went 3.1 innings in the start for UTA. He allowed one run on three hits and two walks. The win went to the Mavericks' second pitcher of the game, lefty Zach Hobbs (4-1). He pitched 2.2-scoreless inning and walked one, while striking out two.
For Oklahoma, redshirt-junior right-hander Robert Tasin made his fourth start of the season and dropped to 3-4. He lasted 4.1 innings and surrendered two runs on six hits and a walk to go with four strikeouts.
UTA outhit the Sooners, 13-8. Second baseman Eric Tate went 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run and was one of five Mavericks to record a multi-hit game. Right fielder John Michael Twichell hit a pinch-hit solo home run in the sixth inning.
Aikin finished the game 2-for-3 with three runs scored and a walk for Oklahoma. Hermelyn and Alspaugh also recorded two-hit games.
The Sooners hit the road this weekend for a Big 12 series at Texas Tech.