Sooners Stumble in Manhattan

The No. 9 Sooners dropped two of three games against the Kansas State Wildcats in Manhattan, Kan., this weekend to put themselves in an even bigger hole in the race for the Big 12 title.

Other than a 14-3 outburst in the series' second game, OU (24-8, 6-5 Big 12) struggled at the plate and didn't get a solid outing from two of its three starting pitchers.

The Wildcats (18-12, 4-8 Big 12) out-dueled senior pitcher Michael Rocha, who didn't quite have his best stuff Friday, to a 2-0 victory in the opener and exploded for five runs in the fifth inning Sunday to clinch the series victory.

Rocha had a no-hitter going in the middle innings, but his three walks, including one with the bases loaded in the second, in six innings killed him. The loss was his first of the season and increases his ERA to 1.02.

Because of tendonitis in senior pitcher Bobby Shore's pitching arm, head coach Sunny Golloway decided not to throw the righty this weekend, which allowed freshman southpaw Dillon Overton to get his second start during conference play.

Overton sailed through the first four innings with ease, but couldn't get out of the fifth inning. He allowed five runs on two hits in the deciding inning of a 6-2 game in the finale.

The Sooners were held to 11 hits in their two losses.

But this weekend wasn't all bad news for OU.

It did have an overall solid performance both on the mound and at the plate in Saturday's win.

Junior pitcher Burch Smith allowed two runs on six hits and struck out six batters in seven innings to earn his second victory during Big 12 play.

Smith would have had an easy day on the mound even if he didn't put up those kinds of numbers. The offense erupted for 14 and put up crooked numbers in three innings – three in the second, four in the fifth and six in the ninth.

Two players had three-hit days Saturday.

Junior first baseman Cameron Seitzer went 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs, and junior left fielder Casey Johnson was a double shy of the cycle. He also collected three hits in four at-bats but topped Seitzer by driving in four runs.

The possible cycle would have been the first for OU since Seitzer did so against Arkansas-Pine Bluff in 2010.

The Sooners are two games behind Texas and Texas A&M, both of whom are 9-3, in the loss column, but three games behind in the win column with five conference series, including one against Texas, remaining.

OU returns home for its second straight big midweek battle. This time, the Sooners will square off against the No. 11 Texas Christian Horned Frogs. No starter has been announced yet, but redshirt sophomore lefty Jordan John is the best possible candidate because Overton threw in the finale.

The game is slated for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at L. Dale Mitchell Park. The game will be televised on Cox Ch. 3 and 703.

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