Sooners Shut Out New Orleans To Open Series
Oklahoma head coach Sunny Golloway shook up his starting lineup after being swept in Tuesday's doubleheader against Arkansas-Little Rock, the third and fourth loss in five games, and the 10th-ranked Sooners responded with a blowout victory.
Jonathan Gray struck out 10 of his 20 batters faced and Jack Mayfield blasted a three-run home run as part of Oklahoma's 10-0 win against New Orleans Friday at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
The Sooners took a refreshed approach, notably moving leadoff hitter Jack Mayfield, struggling with a .200 average over the previous 10 games, to No. 9 and placing clean-up hitter Matt Oberste at the leadoff.
"We had a heart-to-heart after the Tuesday outing. We talked about being a better hitting team. And then we talked about individuals and one of them was Jack.
"He hasn't been swinging very hard because his timing has been off. I wanted him to be aggressive."
Mayfield swung away each at-bat, sending fly balls into the outfield in the third, fourth and sixth innings. In the seventh, he connected with a home run over the left field fence, plating three of his four runs batted in in one swing.
"He just wanted to take a little pressure off me," Mayfield said, "and it's a little different (batting last). You have to wait a couple innings to respond.
"I trust all these guys. It's good to have runners on base -- that's the main thing."
Oberste scored OU's first run in the bottom of the third and finished the game 3-of-5, adding another run and one RBI.
Hector Lorenzana and Justin Burba scored OU's two runs in the fourth inning. Lorenzana beat out the shortstop's diving catch to reach first and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Burba walked the next at-bat and Garrett Carey's sacrifice bunt was misplayed by UNO starter Blake Prest (1-6). A bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Mayfield plated Lorenzana and Oberste hit in Burba with his own fly ball to give the Sooners a 4-0 lead.
A Lorenzana sacrifice bunt and Burba sacrifice fly moved Max White around the bases as the Sooners added two more runs in the fifth inning.
The Sooners scored double-digit runs on 13 hits and many of the starters enjoyed the finish from the dugout as five position players substituted in the late innings.
"Yeah, baseball is fun," Golloway said. "It's fun when you win and it's fun when you play well. And Jonathan Gray does that."
Gray (7-1) allowed just two Privateer hits in six innings of work as his fastball continued to peak into the triple digits near the end of his stint.
"For Jon, I think the easiest thing to evaluate is what (catcher Anthony) Hermelyn tells us. Herm told us coming out of the bullpen, it's different tonight than it's been before and then first three or four innings, he's not catching some balls and we're getting on to him. He's like, 'Coach, it's snaking, it's moving, it's doing more than it's ever done.'
"I don't think it really would have mattered who the opponent was. I think Jon Gray might have been really peaking and, hopefully, will continue to peak. Because his stuff is pretty special."
Oklahoma and New Orleans square off Saturday at 2 p.m. in Game 2 of the three-game series. The Sooner Sports TV broadcast of the game will air on FS Oklahoma and FCS Central.