Oklahoma baseball: Monday mound visit

Jun 26, 2022; Omaha, NE, USA; Oklahoma Sooners starting pitcher Cade Horton (9) throws against the Ole Miss Rebels during the eighth inning at Charles Schwab Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 26, 2022; Omaha, NE, USA; Oklahoma Sooners starting pitcher Cade Horton (9) throws against the Ole Miss Rebels during the eighth inning at Charles Schwab Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports /

The Oklahoma baseball team returned home early last week from a five-day road trip to the state of Kansas, which it probably wishes it could forget.

Throughout the course of the four games a week ago (three against conference rival K-State and the fourth a single midweek contest against Wichita State) — all of which found the Sooners on the losing end — three of the games told a story of OU leading in the game, only to end up losing.

The Sooners returned home this past weekend one game above .500  to face off against the No. 7-ranked Stanford Cardinal, who came to L. Dale Mitchell Park boasting a 16-5 record, and the first top-10 team to visit L. Dale Mitchell Park sense the No. 9 Arkansas Razorbacks in 2012.

Perhaps coming home only to have to face the top 10-ranked Stanford was not what the Sooners needed after a frustrating road trip to the Sunflower State.

Things certainly could have fared worse for the Sooners, for they ended up splitting the unusual four-game series with a top ten team. The trouble is, the games the Sooners lost in the Stanford series, they lost badly.

Even though the Sooners’ pitching staff probably won’t thank me for it, it is time for the Monday Mound Visit.

Game 1

Thursday, March 31, 2023.

Final Score: Stanford 23, Oklahoma 11

The Sooners opened the four-game home series against Stanford by posting a football-like losing score, causing those who might not have watched or listened to the game to wonder what in the world was wrong with the pitching.

Kale Davis, the transfer from Oklahoma State started the game on Thursday against the Fighting Trees, and I’m afraid the only positive that can be gleamed from his start is that it was short lived.

Davis would only last for 1.1 innings, but unfortunately in that time a significant amount of damage was done.

In the space of 53 pitches, Davis allowed seven hits, resulting in nine (yes, I said nine) runs. He struck out two hitters, but he offset that by issuing a pair of free passes.

The trouble started right off the bat in the first inning. Stanford loaded the bases and followed that with a grand slam home run and then proceeded to give up a grand slam. Just like that the Sooners were down by four runs before they even picked up a bat.

Davis’s woes would continue in the second inning, putting a man on first and giving-up a two-run homer, and the Sooners now looking at a six-run deficit and it was only the top of the second.

Davis would allow 3 more runs, before mercifully being replaced by Braden Carmichael.

Carmichael’s time at the mound was short-lived as well, giving up an additional two runs on three hits to Stanford.

You get the picture. In all, nine Oklahoma pitchers surrendered 23 runs on 19 hits and added 15 walks and two hit batters to the mix. No Sooner pitcher lasted longer than two innings, and the one who did go two innings was the most effective of all. Carson Turnquist went 2.0 innings, faced nine batters and walked two hitters, hit another but also struck out two in allowing no runs an no hits.

The loss was charged to Davis, dropping his season record to 2-3.

The Sooner offense was efficient in its run production, scoring 11 runs on 12 hits off of three Stanford pitchers. Unfortunately, the Sooner pitching staff was not able to close the floodgates to the Cardinal offense in the opening game of the series.

Game 2

Friday, March 31

Final score: Oklahoma 2, Stanford 0

Friday night’s performance by the Sooners was the exact antithesis of the prior game, Just two runs were scored in the game and, fortunately, they belonged to Oklahoma as the Sooners recorded their first shutout of the season in winning 2-0 over 7th-ranked Stanford.

Graduate transfer Braxton Douthit drew the starting assignment for the Sooners on Friday. The veteran right-hander, who transferred to OU from Lamar University, went 6.2 innings, allowing no runs on six hits with six strikeouts. It was a stellar performance by the OU starter, particularly in view of the Sooner pitching debacle in the series opener. The one black cloud over Douthit’s performance was the six bases on balls he gave up.

The Sooners bullpen took over to get the final out in the sixth and finished out the final 3.1 innings. Carter Campbell and Carson Pierce each pitched one inning and Carson Atwood came on to record the final out in the top of the ninth. Collectively, the trio allowed no runs on two hits, struck out three and walked no one.

The Sooner offense produced just three hits, but they led to single runs in the first and sixth, the latter coming on a home run to right field by Bryce Madron.

Douthit picked up the win to improve to 4-1 on the season.

Game 3

Saturday, April 1

Final score: Oklahoma 6, Stanford 5

The Sooners’ pitching staff gave away a bitmore in the third game in the series on Saturday, though not nearly a much a two days earlier or what would follow in the series finale on Sunday. The Sooner bats provided enough run defense, and the pitching staff would held it together long enough to secure back-to-back victories against the 7th-ranked visitors from Northern California.

 James Hitt, a transfer from Texas Tech, took the mound Saturday afternoon for the Sooners. The sophomore left-hander threw 86 pitches through six full innings. Unfortunately, he lived up to his last name, allowing four of Stanford’s five runs on eight hits, while striking out five and walking just one Cardinal hitter.

Carter Campbell took over for Hitt in the seventh, appearing in relief for the second straight game.. He did last long, however. In 1.1 innings, he hit a batter, threw a wild pitch and gave up the fifth and final run by the Cardinal, which brought them within one of the Sooners.

Aaron Webber closed out the final five outs for the Sooners , allowing 2 hits and no runs and was credited with the save, his fifth of the season,

The line for the Sooner pitching staff on Saturday totaled five runs on 10 hits, six strike outs and only 2 walks, with Hitt receiving a no decision for his somewhat spotty performance over the first six innings. The win went to Campbel (3-2)l in relief.

While the Sooners’ pitching staff wasn’t quite as tight as the night before, it certainly performed better than in the blowout series opener on Friday,

Game 4

Sunday, April 2

Final score: Stanford 16, Oklahoma 5

The Sooners’ pitching staff suffered another complete implosion against the Cardinal in Sunday’s series finale. This time only a small amount of run support was provided by the OU offense to add any respectability to a second blowout loss in four days.

Five runs is actually a good amount of run support in most college baseball games, but not when the other team scores 16 runs.

Junior right-hander Will Carsten took the mound for the Sooners on Sunday afternoon for his third start of the season, but he was only able to go 4.2 innings, allowing 6 runs (only one earned) on nine hits. Oklahoma trailed 6-1 when he left the game.

Junior Jett Lodes entered the game in the fifth for Oklahoma, but he did not fare much better. The right-handed reliever lasted just 1.1 innings, facing eight hitters, and gave up three runs on three hits. Four of the five outs he was able to get were strikeout,s but he also hit a batter.

Five more pitchers appeared in relief for the Sooners on Sunday in an attempt to slow the Stanford offense. The result was more of the same. Over the final three innings, OU relievers faced 19 hitters and allowed seven runs (all earned) on nine hits, no strikeouts and one walk. In a word, another bad performance by the Oklahoma pitching staff, which currently ranks seventh out of nine Big 12 teams.

The cumulative stat line for the seven Sooner pitchers who appeared in the game was 16 runs allowed on 21 hits, six strikeouts and two hit batters.

If any positive can be taken from this game, it is that OU pitchers gave up just two walks.

Carsten, the starter, took the loss for the Sooners, dropping his record to 1-1.

Weekend summary

While Stanford is a top-ten team, and you would expect them to present quite a challenge for the Sooners. This four-game series was rough for the Oklahoma pitching staff with only one well-pitched game by the Sooners, one mediocre game and two absolute blowouts.

It is most certainly a positive that the Sooners managed to split a series with a nationally ranked team, whose own pitching looked rather shaky at times. Looking back at this past weekend and the previous one in the State of Kansas, pitching is very clearly a concern among Sooner starters and relievers alike.

Oklahoma will be on the road to Tulsa, Oklahoma. to face Oral Roberts for a mid-week game on Tuesday, before heading to Waco to face Big 12 foe Baylor in a trhee-game weekend series.