Golloway's new-look lineup leads Sooners to victory
The New Orleans Privateers may be the worst team on the No. 11 Oklahoma baseball team’s schedule, but this weekend’s series sweep — capped by a 14-3 run-rule victory Sunday at L. Dale Mitchell Park — reminded Sooner Nation this team can hit.
The Sooners (32-10, 8-4 Big 12) pounded New Orleans pitchers for 38 runs on 46 hits that featured six homers during the three-game set.
“We come out here and do some great things,” junior first baseman Matt Oberste said. “We got a lot of hits; we got a lot of runs this weekend. I think it gives us a lot of confidence going into this week.”
And OU hitters did all of this with many of them hitting in new spots in the lineup.
Oberste, who has been the team’s four-hole hitter all year, hit leadoff, senior shortstop Jack Mayfield was moved from leadoff to last in the order and senior left fielder Max White dropped from the three-hole spot to four-hole. And coach Sunny Golloway’s lineup shake-up was apparent throughout the order as only two players maintained their original spots.
The Sooners’ three upperclassmen in leadership positions — Mayfield, Oberste and White — combined to go 20-for-37 with four homers and 15 RBIs against the Privateers (6-36).
“I just kind of tried to keep it simple,” said Mayfield, who hit two home runs and drove in eight runs this weekend. “Let the ball get deep, just try to square it up and hopefully find some holes. I found one that went over.”
Sophomore designated hitter Colt Bickerstaff added two home runs during the series, his first homers of his young career.
Junior pitcher Ethan Carnes made a case for winning the up-for-grabs Sunday starter spot after allowing three runs on six hits through seven innings. His only struggles during the win were in the first inning when he gave up all three of New Orleans’ runs.
“It helped when my defense was making every play because I didn’t strike out that many,” said Carnes, who improved to 2-1 and struck out five batters. “(I) felt really thankful and blessed to get my opportunity.”
Freshman infielder Kolbey Carpenter, who left the team to go home to West, Texas, to be with and help his family and friends following Wednesday’s fertilizer plant explosion, did not make any of this weekend’s games. There is no timetable for Carpenter’s return, Golloway said.
“I’ll be glad when I see him again — give him a big hug,” he said. “I miss him, and I know he’s where he needs to be right now. It kind of puts baseball into perspective.”
The Sooners head out for a key midweek game against No. 12 Arkansas at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday in Fayetteville, Ark.
Because of how well the new-look lineup worked against New Orleans, Golloway plans on keeping it the same against the Razorbacks.
“I’ll leave (the lineup) alone on Tuesday, and we’ll go battle Arkansas,” he said. “We’re going to see some power arms. If things go well on Tuesday, we’ll stay with that lineup on Friday (against Texas Tech). So let’s all keep our fingers crossed.”
Redshirt freshman Adam Choplick will start on the mound for the Sooners, Golloway said. The 6-foot-8-inch lefty is 3-1 with a 4.20 ERA but has struggled in his last three starts, totaling four innings during those outings.
“We’ve got to stick with the big guy; he’s too talented,” Golloway said. “He deserves it, he’s talented, he’s worked hard and he’s a great kid.”