Baseball Preview: #16 Oklahoma At New Mexico - Mystery Pitcher On Sunday?

Steven Okert will move from Sunday to the Saturday starter this weekend against New Mexico. Photo via www.collegebaseballdaily.com

Oklahoma's baseball team hits the road again this weekend for a series against New Mexico. The two-fold story for the Sooners is poor pitching has been backed up by poor hitting, leading OU to a 4-3 season record. While you can say that Oklahoma has won three of their last four games the lingering woes experienced in Sunday's finally against Hartford and again Wednesday night against UT-Arlington have possible changes awaiting the lineup this weekend.

Sunny Galloway had the team sit and stew over Wednesday night's 10-3 loss for 25 minutes before he even entered the locker room to discuss the game with the team. The fact that the pitching rotation for the weekend has TBA down for a Sunday starter shows that Oklahoma's skipper is leaving his options open.

As an opponent, New Mexico will be a notch up in competition from last weekend's Hartford series but still a team that the Sooners should be able to take at least two of three from...if they truly want to earn that ranking in front of their name. The Lobos are 2-5 on the season with series losses to Nevada and University of Texas San Antonio. They are 1-2 at home so they are trying to find themselves as well.

Dillon Overton will remain Oklahoma's Friday starter. He has a 1-0 record on the season with a 4.91 ERA. In eleven innings pitched he has given up 15 hits and seven runs while fanning a team high 12 batters. He'll be going up against New Mexico ace Sam Wolff who is a right handed pitcher. Wolff is 0-1 on the season with a 3.27 ERA.

Lefty Steven Okert will move to the Saturday starter in place of Jonathan Gray who started Wednesday night's loss against UTA. Okert also has a 1-0 record with a 5.40 ERA. He's thrown 11.2 innings of work and has given up 7 runs on 15 hits while striking out 11 batters. He has also given up a team high three homeruns. Okert will be matched up against New Mexico's Rudy Jamarillo who is a senior lefty with a 5.87 ERA and a 1-0 record.

Sunday is where the mystery and intrigue comes in to play. Galloway has multiple options as to who he'll throw but in my opinion the decision hinges on two factors. 1) How much will Jordan John in used in relief. 2) What the series record is going into Sunday.

I think that Galloway would like to get by without using John in relief on Friday and Saturday but I'm not sure that he can. John is 2-1 on the season coming out of the pen and has a team low 0.71 ERA. He's thrown a team high 12.2 innings of work and has only surrendered 2 runs off of 9 hits. If he's pressed into service on Friday and Saturday then he won't be available for Sunday. So that begs the question of who will be?

I think if Oklahoma has a 2-0 lead in the series then we could see Jonathan Gray take the mound again. Its highly unlikely but it is possible. Chris Burgess is a possibility. Last season at Black Hawk College he 5-3 with a 1.89 ERA and pitched seven complete games. He's thrown one inning this season, allowing no runs and one hit. Jack Mayfield is another option. He hasn't thrown at all this season but made 11 appearances on the mound last season, striking out 18 batters and collecting three saves while building a 3.68 ERA. The bottom line is that we have no idea what Galloway is going to do on Sunday but I'm willing to bet that he has a plan.

Pitching against the Sooners on Sunday will be New Mexico's Austin House. A junior righty, House has an 0-2 record this season with a 7.94 ERA.

Of course high ERA's by opposing pitchers doesn't necessarily translate into offensive success. Wednesday night the Sooners were held at bay by a pitcher who entered the game with a staggering 19.29 ERA. Oklahoma has to wake up the bats somehow. Hunter Lockwood and Matt Oberste are the only guys in the line up who are hitting the ball with any regularity. The Sooners are seventh in the conference in team batting average at .261 and the only two teams below them have losing records.

First pitch in tonight's game is set for 6:00 p.m. (CST). The game thread will be up an hour beforehand.

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