By JOHN SHINN
NORMAN — One controversial call doesn’t decide games. Oklahoma’s 10-8 loss to Kansas on Saturday at L. Dale Mitchell Park is going to be remembered for the bottom-of-the-ninth-inning call that ended any chance of a ninth inning rally.
The loss, which ended the Sooners’ 13-game winning streak, had much deeper roots.
The play in dispute was the slow dribbler OU pinch hitter Colt Bickerstaff put in play in the ninth inning. As pinch runner Justin Burba raced toward second base, he was ruled to have interfered with Kansas second baseman Justin Protacio, even though he didn’t make contact with the ball, collide with Protacio or do anything other than run in a straight line from first to second base.
Citing rule 8, section 5-d of the NCAA Baseball Rulebook, the Jayhawks got a double play, and after OU’s Hunter Haley grounded out to second base the pitches later, the victory.
OU coach Sunny Golloway didn’t witness the final part of it. He was ejected after an impassioned argument with third base umpire Tom Svehla following the interference call.
“Well, you have to avoid contact with the defender. I saw the highlight and we avoided contact; I think I can say that without getting a reprimand,” Golloway said.
However, the Sooner coach had plenty of reasons to be disgusted with his team. Starting pitching has carried OU this season. It wasn’t there Saturday, and that’s why it dropped to 25-5 overall and 5-1 in the Big 12 Conference.
Starter Corey Copping was only able to get one out and gave up four runs on two hits. He also hit two batters in just 10 pitches. Reliever Ethan Carnes didn’t fare any better, allowing three runs on three hits and only getting one out. All told, the Jayhawks (15-10, 3-3) had a 7-0 lead before the Sooners stepped into the batter’s box.
However, OU actually erased the deficit. Max White went 2 for 3 and ignited a seven-run fifth inning with a three-run homer with Craig Aikin and Jack Mayfield aboard. Hunter Haley followed with a three-run triple to give OU a 8-7 lead.
“You have to give our guys credit, we fought back. Our position players played well. We didn’t make any errors. We out-hit them and played really hard for a Sunday game,” Golloway said.
But OU didn’t out-pitch the Jayhawks.
Reliever Billy Waltrip got the last out in the first inning and stabilized the game for the Sooners. But he ran out of gas in the seventh inning, giving up three straight singles with the last being an RBI single by Alex DeLeon to tie the game. Reliever Jake Fisher gave up another to Jake Boylan to give Kansas the lead for good.
Waltrip (1-2) took the loss. He allowed two runs on four hits and struck out two over 5 1/3 innings.
Kansas’ bullpen was the difference Saturday. Robert Kahana (3-1) picked up the victory. He held the Sooners scoreless over 2 2/3 innings.
The chance that got away was in the eighth inning when OU had Aikin and White and third and second base with no outs. The Sooners left them stranded.
“That hurt us. We have to get them in right there,” Golloway said.
Jordan Piché picked up the save by putting out the fire in the eighth inning and getting Kansas through the ninth inning.