Sooner Pitching Staff Must Shine

OU reliever Jeremy Erben

OMAHA, Neb.—Had the Sooners battled back from a 6-1 victory in their suspended game against Clemson, they would have been one victory away from next week's championship series here at Rosenblatt Stadium.

As it is, they fell narrowly short, losing 6-4 with the tying run at the plate in the top of the ninth inning.

And so now, instead of being one victory away from the series, OU sits three wins from a best-of-three matchup against a team on the other side of the bracket for all the marbles.

This begs the question of how the pitching situation will turn out.

Many times playing a string of several games in consecutive days collapses a team's pitching.

In fact, with the suspended game, should the Sooners push it to the limit on their side of the bracket and force an if-necessary game against Clemson after beating South Carolina again and Clemson in the first game of the bracket final, they will have played parts of five games in five days.

But it's something OU head coach Sunny Golloway doesn't seem too concerned about.

"Well, we feel pretty good [about it]," Golloway said. "I thought J.R. [Robinson] coming in stabilizing was a real big key for us. Bobby's [Shore] already come to me and said, Coach, I'll be ready to go. [Michael] Rocha came to me today and said, I feel great, I'm ready to go.

"[Jeremy] Erben is going to be able to bounce back. He's been that kind of guy for us all year. He can go out there and throw in the teens for three, four days in a row. He's got that kind of arm and that kind of strength to his body. Of course we haven't used [closer Ryan] Duke, but the short stint out of the pen."

Shore, who started, and Robinson, who pitched in relief later in the game, both had pitch counts in the 60's against Clemson.

So, it's certain Robinson won't pitch any in relief tonight.

What's also a sure thing is that Zach Neal will be the starter.

"I like where we're at," Golloway said. "We've got Zach Neal, who pitched Friday night for us all year in the Big 12, ready to go. And I believe in our bullpen. I believe in our arms. We have depth."

A couple of other guys in the Sooner bullpen that figure to pull some of the load the rest of the way are, of course, Erben and Jack Mayfield.

Erben tossed 55 pitches in the first game against South Carolina and 12 against Clemson, while Mayfield had only nine pitches, although two of his three batters faced reached base.

"Jack Mayfield is not the Jack Mayfield that we know, the one that's been seen here at Rosenblatt," Golloway said. "So he just got—he didn't stay over the rubber. He got out front, led with his elbow and pitches were up. That's something we've already talked about and we feel we've corrected and he'll be ready to go.

And so will the rest of the staff if they expect to stay alive in the CWS.

"We're going to be okay," Golloway said. "Our arms are going to be there for us, and we've got depth and we're going to be able to go three straight days. That is what we have to do."

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