Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

April 28, 2013

Gray wins pitching duel, leads OU to victory

There was a little more adrenaline pumping through L. Dale Mitchell Park Saturday afternoon. Maybe it was the season-high crowd of 2,668. Perhaps the pitching match up between Oklahoma’s Jonathan Gray and Texas Tech’s Trey Masek — and the scouts who flocked to see it — elevated the atmosphere.

The ambiance took a back seat to the outcome. The Sooners rolled to a 6-2 victory and secured the series against the Red Raiders.

“We were excited,” OU first baseman Matt Oberste said after going 2 for 4 with two RBIs. “Both those guys are really good pitchers and we knew it would be a good matchup today.”

Gray (8-1) won the battle, holding the Red Raiders (19-24, 5-12 Big 12) to one run on two hits over 7 1-3 innings. Gray also had seven strikeouts.

Masek (3-1) suffered his first loss of the season after allowing five runs (three earned) on eight hits over six frames.

The difference came down to OU’s ability to put good swings on the ball. Four of the eight hits the Sooners (33-10, 10-4) collected came in the first inning. The big blow was Colt Bickerstaff’s two-run double that broke the game open.

“That was big. We knew Masek was one of the premier guys in the Big 12,” Bickerstaff said. “Getting on him early is something that usually doesn’t happen. We were fortunate to get a lot of fastballs. Things went our way early and we scored a lot of runs.”

OU coach Sunny Golloway moved Gray’s spot in the rotation so he could matchup with Masek. It was a clear case of both teams best pitchers facing off. Gray’s pitched in many of those games this season and won the overwhelming majority of them.

Most of the time those wins have been in tight, low-scoring games. Having a three-run lead when he walked to the mound in the second inning was an odd feeling.

“I felt very comfortable,” Gray said. “It’s always good when you can get a three-, four-, five-run lead. It helps out a lot.”

The Sooners’ lead went to five runs on Oberste’s two-run double in the sixth inning. By then, OU had the game and the series within hand.

Texas Tech picked up its only runs of the series thus far on RBI singles in the eighth inning by Bryant Burleson and Jake Barrios.

They began with OU getting the final three outs of the suspended game from Friday night. OU picked up an 8-0 victory in that one.

The Sooners will go for the sweep when the teams met in the series finale at 1 p.m. today. They hold a one-game lead over Kansas State in the Big 12 standings. In order to extend that lead, they have to capitalize on sweep opportunities.

“Once you get the first two, you  can start thinking about a sweep,” Golloway said. “What tomorrow becomes about is the standings … For where we sit right now, this game is huge.”

It is because OU took care of business Saturday.

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