A weekend that was all about building momentum suddenly turned into a week about regaining it after No. 23 Oklahoma lost its first home series of the season to Sam Houston State, which won the final two games.
Shaken by the sudden departure of head coach Pete Hughes, who was hospitalized with chest pains Saturday night and missed Sunday’s game, the Sooners were never able to get on track – going 14 innings over the two games with just one hit.
“Pete brings a great energy,” said assistant coach Mike Anderson, who took on Hughes’ duties for Sunday’s 8-5 loss. “We still have to go win a baseball game. Our kids are mature enough. I think our coaching staff is too. We still play the game. We weren’t a bunch of guys in here mopping or anything like that.
“He brings great energy. We need Pete. It’s not an excuse. He just brings great energy.”
Anderson said that the timetable for Hughes’ return is uncertain, but the two did exchange text messages Sunday.
For now, Oklahoma (29-18, 12-6 Big 12), which also saw its 10-game Sunday winning streak snapped, will have to move on with some worry over its coach.
“He needs to get better. He needs to take care of himself,” center fielder Craig Aikin said. “Whatever he has to do for himself, we support him.”
Right now, the Sooners have things taken care of things on the field. Oklahoma is just a game-and-a-half behind rival Oklahoma State for first place in the conference with a Bedlam series looming next week.
Oklahoma, which leads the conference in hits and is second in RBI, had won seven of its last 10 games before closing the series against Sam Houston State with back-to-back losses – the first time in almost a month.
“This was a big series for us to get some momentum,” second baseman Kolbey Carpenter said. “We just let it slip away.”
The Sooners play Wichita State on the road Tuesday before a Bedlam series that kicks off Friday in Tulsa and concludes with Saturday and Sunday games at the Bricktown Ballpark in downtown Oklahoma City.
With a series against Oklahoma State and TCU left on the schedule, Oklahoma controls its own destiny in a sense. Both TCU and Oklahoma State are the only teams higher than the Sooners in the Big 12 standings.
“We’re still sitting right where we want to be in the Big 12: Fate right in our hands,” Aikin said. “If we win these last two series, we like our chances. That’s what we have to do, get hot at the right time.”