Tahlequah Daily Press

April 9, 2013

Pitchers carrying Sooners

By JOHN SHINN
CNHI

— After Oklahoma scratched out a 4-2 victory over Texas Sunday, OU shortstop Jack Mayfield asked how a team that only eked out six runs in three games finally managed to take a series from the Longhorns.

“I guess it’s a little ‘Sooner Magic,’” he said.

Well, not exactly.

The Sooners (27-6, 7-2 Big 12) won because of the dominant pitching staff they’ve assembled. Mayfield, who went 3 for 5 Sunday, knew it too.

“Our pitching keeps us in every game, and it keeps us calm out there. We know we just have to score a couple runs,” he said. “Today we only scored four runs, and we got the win. If we keep pitching like this, we’re gonna be in a great spot the rest of the year.”

The pitching performance against the Longhorns was one for the ages. In 27 innings, the Sooners only allowed four runs, and just one was earned. After 33 games, OU’s team earned run average is a Big 12 best -- 2.58. In the three conference series, it’s a microscopic 1.69.

Jonathan Gray was dominant in Friday’s 2-1. Oddly, the best performance of the series was by Dillon Overton, who held the Longhorns to one run on five hits over eight innings in Saturday’s 1-0 loss.

However, what Overton did was save the bullpen for Sunday’s game and OU coach Sunny Golloway was able to call on it early after Adam Choplick got off to a rocky start.

Jake Fisher, Adam Garza Jr., Billy Waltrip and Jacob Evans blanked the Longhorns over the final 6 1-3 innings Sunday.

There was a lot of poise on the pitching mound at a place the Sooners haven’t shown a lot of in recent years.

The last time OU won a series at Disch-Falk Field, Bill Clinton was President and most of OU’s players were still playing t-ball.

Nonetheless, the environment and the pressure of Red River Rivalry did not bother OU.

“It’s hard with all these fans cheering and booing and everything go against you,” Garza said. “You have to zone it out and throw strikes and make pitches.”

The Sooners have throughout the season and did again this weekend. The series victory over Texas not only removed the Red River Rivalry monkey from OU’s back, it  is now alone in first place in the Big 12 standings.

The reason OU is in the very cozy position is because they’ve become comfortable playing in low-scoring games. The two wins in Austin gave OU six in conference play in games where it scored four runs or less.

“A lot of games are going to be like this,” OU right fielder Max White said after Sunday’s win. “They’re going to be low-scoring games and very competitive. We just have to be focused and play our game.”

For generations, it’s been said that good pitching will beat good hitting on a consistent basis. The Sooners are proving this season why that belief has stood the test of time.