Tahlequah Daily Press

April 26, 2013

Overton to miss time in OU’s rotation

By JOHN SHINN
CNHI

— NORMAN — Oklahoma coach Sunny Golloway dealt with a stomach virus this week. Even if he’d been 100 percent healthy, the news he received Tuesday still made him want to vomit.

Left-handed pitcher Dillon Overton is going to miss at least his next two starts with inflammation in his left elbow. The injury was noticed when Overton threw a bullpen session Tuesday. An MRI was performed Wednesday.

Overton, a junior, is projected as a first-round draft pick in Major League Baseball’s 2013 draft. He’s currently 8-2 with a 2.52 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 71 1-3 innings. Overton threw 94 pitches and lasted six innings in the Sooners’ 14-5 victory over New Orleans last Saturday.

Needless to say, losing Overton for an extended period is the biggest curve ball the Sooners have faced this season.

Golloway admitted Thursday he isn’t sure what the pitching rotation will be after Jonathan Gray (7-1, 1.09 ERA) takes the mound at 6:30 p.m. today at L. Dale Mitchell Park in the opening game of three-game series against Texas Tech (19-22, 5-10 Big 12).

“We had two guys throwing really well and then a closer,” Golloway said referring to Gray, Overton and reliever Jacob Evans. “When one of those guys gets hurt, I don’t know. I’m gonna need to quit throwing it up and give it some time to think about it.”

The Sooners (31-10, 8-4) have a percentage points lead over Kansas at the top of the Big 12 standings. They need to claim the series against the Red Raiders to maintain that position.

Not having Overton makes that chore tougher.

The New Orleans series marked the first time since the middle of March that OU scored more than three runs in the middle game of a weekend series. Overton picked up wins in three of his last four starts despite the lack of run support. The only loss was 1-0 against Texas. The left-hander threw eight innings and held the Longhorns to five hits.

“We have to focus more,” Sooner shortstop Jack Mayfield said. “We have to focus on that Friday game and get off to a good note and play good behind Gray and go from there.”

The Sooners are coming off a three-game sweep of New Orleans last weekend. They scored 38 runs in the series, building some offensive confidence that had been missing in the process.

The hope was OU could take that on the road to Arkansas on Tuesday and find out if the lights had really come on at the plate or if it had simply feasted on some less-than-stellar pitching.

The Arkansas game was canceled due to inclement weather. The Sooners have to wait until tonight to see if there’s some carry-over.

“You go from Sunday to Friday without seeing live pitching and things change,” OU right fielder Hunter Haley said. “You can take all the live batting practice you can, but it’s just not the same as hitting off a guy who is trying to get you out.”

Nevertheless, OU’s in position where it can’t expect dominant starting pitching to produce two wins in a three-game series. The absence of Overton changes that dynamic.