Oklahoma's starting pitching rotation didn't get off to the best start of the season last weekend at Pepperdine. All three starters failed to pick-up a win in Malibu and the Sooners limped home to Norman with a 1-2 record. Now, as the home season is set to start this afternoon when OU hosts Hartford, Coach Sunny Golloway is keeping the starting rotation the same as it was last weekend.
You really can't blame him though. Two of the weekend starters are JUCO transfers and last weekend was their first taste of collegiate baseball at the upper level. I would say that if there are struggles this weekend then we could possibly expect some changes next week when Oklahoma travels to New Mexico. For now, this should be a weekend where the Sooner hurlers rebound and build some confidence.
Dillon Overton didn't get a loss last weekend but he didn't notch a win either. He was retired after giving up three runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings. To his credit, he did strike out five Pepperdine batters but the three runs allowed cost him the opportunity at a win. Instead Oklahoma's only win of the weekend went to Jordan John who came in for Overton and pitched 3.1 scoreless innings.
Saturday's starter Jonathan Gray possibly had the worst start of the weekend. He wasn't necessarily rocked by Pepperdine batters but he struggled to find the strike zone and walked six batters in 2.2 innings. His velocity was solid (struck out 4 batters) but he just couldn't get the ball control that he needed.
Sunday starter Steven Okert allowed more runs (4) than any other Sooner starter over last weekend. He lasted 3.2 innings and was serving up the long ball with too much regularity resulting in Oklahoma turning a 3-1 first inning lead into a 4-3 third inning deficit.
Offensively the Sooners are still looking for their first homerun of the season. Matt Oberste was Oklahoma's best hitter last weekend with five hits in nine at bats and a team high three runs scored. Garrett Carey, Evan Mistich and Cody Reine each have four hits and a batting average of .333 (Reine) and .400 (Carey and Mistich) but no one else on the team, other than these four, has a batting averaged over .250. Freshman Hunter Lockwood leads the team with three RBIs.
Hartford should be a good confidence booster not only for Sooner pitchers but also for the batters who are looking to get their timing down. The Hawks were 6-43-1 last season and return seven position players from that squad. They'll be throwing lefties against the Sooners today and Sunday and a righty on Saturday.
Friday starter Mike Thatcher was 0-5 last season with a 4.96 ERA. He allowed 30 runs last season while striking out 20 batters. Saturday the Hawks will put sophomore Alex Gouin on the mound. In ten pitching appearances last season he allowed 25 runs off 37 hits and posted a 5.92 ERA. He also was winless as a pitcher last season. In the finale on Sunday Oklahoma will face freshman Sean Newcomb. If The Sooners can't put the ball in play against this pitching staff and plate runs all weekend long then we could be looking at a very long season. After going 1-2 last weekend a sweep is a must this weekend. It's a big step down in level of competition for Oklahoma so there are no excuses.
This is the opening weekend for Hartford baseball.