OU Baseball: Looking forward to UT Arlington
Astrud Reed, The Oklahoma Daily
The No. 17 Oklahoma baseball team leaves Norman for a four-game road trip starting with a tilt against UT Arlington at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Arlington, Texas.
The Sooners (11-1) are coming off a series victory against Pepperdine at home and a perfect road trip against Iowa, Texas A&M Corpus Christi and New Mexico at the Kleberg Bank College Classic on Feb. 22 through 24 in Corpus Christi, Texas.
OU will be going with junior pitcher Ethan Carnes as the starter against the Mavericks (7-4). Carnes, a lefty who transferred from Howard College, will be making his first career start in an Oklahoma uniform but has tallied 4 2/3 innings in two appearances out of the bullpen.
In those two outings, Carnes has a 3.86 ERA and has allowed two runs — both earned — on seven hits. He also struck out six batters and is allowing opposing hitters to have a .368 clip, which is the highest opposing batting average allowed by any Sooner pitcher who has thrown at least one inning.
The plan is to save freshman pitcher Ralph Garza while having some of the other relievers who didn’t see much playing time this weekend coming out of the bullpen against UT Arlington, coach Sunny Golloway said.
Because of the Big 12’s poor start, winning as many midweek games as possible is going to be huge for OU, considering these games will either make or break the team’s RPI.
Since the start of the 2008 season, the Sooners are 3-2 against UT Arlington, and the two teams have split the last two meetings — the Mavericks won, 10-3, last season in Norman and OU won, 4-3, in 2010 in Arlington, Texas.
“If you want to host regionals, if you want to be potentially a national seed ... you better win your midweek games; that’s all there is to it,” Golloway said. “Now with the RPI, road wins mean more than home wins.”
One of the big ways the Sooners can improve upon their recent record against the Mavericks is by continuing what they did against Pepperdine this past weekend: Have their upper classmen hitting in the middle of the order produce at the plate.
In OU’s two wins this weekend, its two-three-and-four-hole hitters — seniors shortstop Jack Mayfield and right fielder Max White and junior first baseman/designated hitter Matt Oberste — drove in seven of the team’s 18 runs and collected four extra-base hits — two doubles and two homers — while hitting for a collective .364 clip.
“We really wanted to come out and swing the sticks,” Mayfield said. “When we score runs, it gives the pitchers some confidence, and they settle down.”
White, who led the team in hitting last year and is second this year with a .356 average this season, has at least one hit in 10 of the Sooners’ 12 games this season.
“I like to consider myself a hitter and not just changing my approach to try to hit a bomb,” said White, who hit his first home run of the season Sunday. “I’m trying to kind of set the tone for the lineup.”
After Oklahoma finishes its game against UT Arlington, it will return home for a couple days before flying to Los Angeles for a three-game series against USC, No. 12 UCLA and No. 22 Notre Dame. But Golloway is not overlooking this matchup against the Mavericks considering the two ranked opponents are looming over the weekend.
“It’ll be as important as any individual game out on the West Coast,” Golloway said. “We’ll make sure our guys understand that.”