Phoenix wire report
BLACKSBURG, Va. – Matt Oberste’s two-run single in the fifth inning gave Oklahoma the lead for good, and Sooners pitcher Jonathan Gray took care of the rest, as the OU knocked off Coastal Carolina 7-3 in the first game of the NCAA Blacksburg regional played at English Field.
Oklahoma (41-19), the No. 2 seed in the regional, trailed 3-0 after the Chanticleers touched Gray for two runs in the first inning and one in the second. But Gray, widely considered the top draft prospect in Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft next week, kept Coastal Carolina off the scoreboard for the rest of the game.
“We tip our cap to the way Coastal came out of the gate,” said OU coach Sunny Golloway. “We knew that their short stop had to leave and we hope he is okay. So they had to shuffle and move in their third baseman to short and a new third baseman and had an injury behind the plate.”
Gray (10-2) went the distance, giving up three runs (two earned) on nine hits. He struck out 11 and walked just one. He threw 129 pitches.
“I felt stronger as the game went on, but I did change a few things,” Gray said. “We started mixing the off speed early and attacking the fastball. They were swinging so we had to mix up the off speed early to mess up their balance a little bit. It worked out a lot better.”
The Sooners rallied with two runs in the fourth, and then Oberste gave them the lead in the fifth inning. The All-Big 12 first baseman, who led the Sooners with a .384 average coming in, stepped up to the plate with two on after Jack Mayfield had singled and Max White reached on a bunt single. Both moved up a base after a throwing error on White’s bunt by Chris Suseck.
Oberste lined one to right center, bringing home both Mayfield and White and giving the Sooners a 4-3 lead. It marked his team-leading 15th multi-RBI game of the season.
“Early I was kind of confused of what was going on,” White said. “But we just had to find our groove really. I knew when Jon found his groove things would start clicking. We came off a Big 12 Tournament and we had a lot of fans and Carolina had a lot of fans here.
“They were loud and we really just had to fine tune ourselves and like Jon said clear our minds. And we did that. Five runs in three innings was key for us so we need to keep that momentum going.”
Gray was at around 115 pitches after eight innings, but Sooners coach Sunny Golloway elected to bring him out for the ninth.
“He said he felt fine,” Golloway said. “Our limit is 125 pitches. But I’m not sure there was a person in the county who could have taken the ball away from him. I talked with someone after the game, and they told me that his last pitch was 102 (mph).”
The Chanticleers (37-22) got two hits and an RBI from Colin Hering.
The Sooners will play Connecticut, a 5-2 winner over host Virginia Tech, at 4:30 p.m. today. Coastal Carolina will play Virginia Tech at noon. today.