Tahlequah Daily Press

February 15, 2014

Sooners fall in Hughes' coaching debut

By JOHN SHINN
CNHI

— NORMAN — Oklahoma coach Pete Hughes wants his team to play loose. What he got Friday afternoon in the season opener was anything but that. The Sooners played stiffer than a brand new mitt in a 7-5 loss to Seton Hall. The loss marked the first time OU has dropped its home opener since L. Dale Mitchell Park opened in 1982.

“It’s disappointing, and I know our guys are disappointed,” Hughes said. “We really cultivate a relaxed atmosphere in everything we do. Game day is their pay day and I want them to play loose and have fun and play fast. I don’t think we did that today.”

It was that way throughout OU’s lineup and on the mound. The Sooners only had six hits and were 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position.

OU players were not made available to reporters following the game.

Sophomore Jacob Evans, who took the loss, struggled. The left-hander, who went 7-2 with nine saves as a freshman, gave up eight hits, hit three batters and walked another. He lasted 5 1/3 innings but seemed to be in a hole all afternoon. He struck out four, but faced 26 batters and did not have an inning where the Pirates did not put a runner on base.

Seton Hall didn’t have that problem. It never trailed and picked up timely hits throughout. Catcher Dillon Hamlin went 4 for 5 and put the Pirates up for good with a solo home run in the fifth inning. Second baseman Mike Caputo went 4 for 5 as well and drove in two runs.

Not bad for a school whose West Orange, N.J., campus is currently engulfed by over a foot of snow.

Evans’ problems kicked into high gear in the top of the second inning. He hit Sal Annunziata and Kyle Grimm to start the frame and was staring at bases-loaded, no-out jam after Hamlin’s bunt single.

The damage was limited somewhat when D.J. Ruhlman grounded into a double play. Annunziata scored, but the opportunity was there to get out of the inning and keep the deficit at one run.

Then Caputo followed with an RBI single. It was the first of the Pirates’ four two-out RBIs on the afternoon.

The Sooners didn’t come through in that scenario. They were just 1 for 12 with two outs and a woeful 2 for 17 with runners on base.

The score actually would have been worse except Seton Hall committed four errors, leading to three unearned runs for the Sooners.

OU didn’t get on the scoreboard until Hector Lorenzana drove in Sheldon Neuse with a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning.

The Pirates’ miscues opened the door for a comeback in the fifth. Kolbey Carpenter scored on an error by Grimm at third base to cut the gap to 4-2. A grounder by Neuse got by Caputo, allowing Carpenter and Joshua Ake to score and tie the game.

The difference in the game was the Pirates kept hitting and OU did not. Seton Hall collected 14 on the day. None were bigger than Hamlin’s solo homer in the sixth that put the Pirates back on top. A sacrifice fly by Annunziata and another RBI single by Grimm in the seventh put the game away.

Josh Prevost picked up the victory for the Pirates. He went six innings, allowing four runs on five hits and striking out five. Only one of the runs he allowed was earned.

“It was a good learning experience because our guys will see that when they don’t play loose and at 100 miles per hour and aren’t playing to win, they’re not as good as they’re capable of playing,” Hughes said. “We’ve gotta learn from our approach.”