After missing on his first six pitches, Sooner ace Jonathan Gray settled down and was finally back to typical Jonathan Gray, mowing down most anything and everything in his path.
”[Anthony] Hermelyn came out to talk to me and just told me ‘Everything’s fine, you know. We’ll find the zone. It’s gonna get better as it goes,’” Gray said. “I kinda worried a little bit about that early, but I threw to contact and my defense was there behind me with some great plays and everything rolled from there.”
The potential No. 1 draft pick fanned 12, tying his career high and missing the tournament record by one, and only allowed three hits and a walk in his second complete game shutout of the season.
”I thought really our performance today was about Jon Gray,” said OU head coach Sunny Golloway. “I think that’s pretty clear.”
Meanwhile, an offense that has struggled for much of the season didn’t put up much by any means, but certainly enough to get the job done considering Gray’s dominance.
Shortstop Jack Mayfield gave OU a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first with an RBI double into the left field corner.
”Big time, because when we got big Jon on the mound, we kinda struggle to score runs because they’re throwing usually their Friday guy, too,” Mayfield said of how crucial his hit proved to be. “But that first inning was big. We called two hit-and-runs and I fouled those off, and I was fortunate to keep that ball fair down the line. And once I got that, I knew Jon was gonna settle in and he just dominated out there.”
His middle infield counterpart Hector Lorenzana came through with a run-scoring single in the third to double OU’s advantage in what became a serious pitcher’s duel the rest of the way.
Gray and the Sooners cruised in a close, but not highly contested, scoreless game from there on out.
No player for either team recorded more than one hit, and each team committed an error in the field.
Gray improved to 9-2, while Dillon Newman fell to 3-4 for the Bears.
The Sooners, now one of two eventual 1-0 teams in Pool A, can slowly inch again towards a potential Big 12 Title game berth when they look for their second win in a 9 a.m. Friday contest with Texas Tech.
Perhaps more importantly, though, they further solidified their NCAA Tournament position.
”I thought today was going to be real important because we had the third best RPI [in the league],” Golloway said. “We have a good RPI and an RPI that’s deserving of getting in the tournament based on our league, and Baylor had the next best RPI. So, I thought that’s why it was important. Even though West Virginia tied with us for third place, I thought the placing was important, but I thought the RPI would be important also.”
OU still also has a Saturday showdown with top seed Kansas State at 12:30 p.m..
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