MALIBU, Calif. — Half the Oklahoma defenders were running toward their positions when they stopped in their tracks. Pepperdine was on the field celebrating a victory, even though it was only the middle of the seventh inning.
The Sooners looked around confused while Pepperdine coach Steve Rodriguez conferred with the umpires in front of home plate. The umpires then walked over and said something brief to Oklahoma coach Sunny Golloway before the home plate ump waved his arms. The game was over.
Pepperdine (2-1) had won 7-6 in a travel curfew shortened game to take the series against No. 19 Oklahoma (1-2).
Before the game, the coaches had agreed not to begin an inning after 2:00 PM, in order for Oklahoma to have time to shower and get to the airport before their flight home. However, Golloway and the Sooners’ coaching staff were unaware of the time in the final inning of the back-and-forth contest.
“We didn’t realize what time it was. We knew there was a time limit though,” Golloway said.
5 Things to Take Away
1. Taken out of the game - Coaches always tell players not to let any outside force distract them or get them off their game. The Oklahoma coaching staff obviously didn’t heed that advice. As Golloway said, the coaching staff knew there was a travel curfew time limit. It was agreed on before the game.
But the staff let the umpires take them out of the game. The Sooners were so incensed by the calls the umpires had been making that they let it affect them, losing track of the time. Pitching coach Jack Giese got tossed from the game in the top of the seventh inning and after the game Golloway laid some of the blame on the men in black:
“I’m not supposed to talk about it, but the umpiring was…it was not good. It just was not good. It’s extremely disappointing to come out here on the West Coast and be dealt what we were. There’s a lot of things we’ll have to deal with and you know what, if I get a reprimand for it, I do, but it just wasn’t good.”
2. Who’s the better ball club? – It’s not incomprehensible that a team could lose two games in a weekend series and still be the better team. But when there are two close games split and the third game is a 10-run shutout, the better team is usually evident. Not in Golloway’s mind:
“We’re going to leave feeling like we’re a better baseball team. No disrespect to Pepperdine, but our program and where we’re at and where we’re heading and what we’re doing…they’ve got a nice club. They’ll do well in their league, but we’ve got bigger things ahead of us.”
3. Struggling Starters – Scott Frazier was stellar for Pepperdine in Saturday’s 10-0 win. But he was the only starter that was good. Other than him, the starting pitching during the series was downright bad. Frazier pitched seven scoreless innings. No other starter made it through six innings this weekend.
On Friday, highly touted Sooners sophomore Dillon Overton allowed 10 base runners in 4 2/3 inning while Pepperdine’s veteran weekend starter, Jon Moscot, didn’t fare much better. Moscot allowed nine hits and four runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Oklahoma’s starters on Saturday and Sunday, Jonathan Gray and Steven Okert, combined for 11 walks and neither made it four innings. Reliever Jordan John actually pitched more than either starter on the weekend. He pitched 5 1/3 combined innings, allowing five hits, one walk and one run.
“We didn’t get starting pitching from any of our three starters,” Golloway said. “There’s a lot to go back to the drawing board and re-focus. We just weren’t very good this weekend.”
The Sooners starters command issues were nothing compared to Pepperdine’s Alex Najera. Starting Sunday, Najera didn’t even record an out. He faced three batters. He walked one and hit the other two before he was promptly lifted for a reliever.
4. The Throwbacks - The first thing anyone noticed when they arrived at Eddy D. Field Stadium Sunday afternoon was the vibrant colors radiating off the Pepperdine jerseys.
Pepperdine is celebrating its 75th anniversary with throwback uniforms.
“Out guys saw them and they were like ‘What in the world?’” Rodriguez said.
The 1980s Houston Astros-inspired jerseys definitely created a buzz among not only the players and coaches, but also the fans in the stands. Everyone had something to say about them.
“You know, they’re ugly. They’re as ugly as can be with these rainbow looks, but they’re fun,” Rodriguez said. “That’s the biggest thing. Our guys enjoyed it. The fans did too. We’ll see how it goes.”
The team plans to wear the jerseys as a Sunday afternoon home alternate throughout the season.
5. Aaron Brown the pitcher - As I wrote in Saturday’s ’5 Things to Take Away,’ freshman Aaron Brown had his coming out party in only his second collegiate game when he recorded three hits and three RBI.
Sunday he showed his versatility. Knowing it would be Oklahoma’s final at bat, Rodriguez ran Brown out to shut the door in the eighth inning. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound left hander threw a consistent 91-92 mph fastball that had some late tail on it and mixed in a breaking ball around 82 mph.
After being all over the zone and eventually allowing a leadoff single to Cody Reine, Brown settled in. He fielded a sacrifice bunt and then got a pop up and fly out to end the game.
“When I was getting loose in the seventh inning, I was just wanting to be out there to get the last three outs,” Brown said. “I got the opportunity to get in the game and I just spotted it up a little bit with the fastball, kept them off-balance with the off-speed. I got the three outs and we got the W, so it’s all good.”