Sooners win in 12 innings as Oberste ties program record
Astrud Reed, The Oklahoma Daily
The No. 17 Oklahoma baseball team is used to playing extra-innings games this week. It played 15 innings in its 9-8 victory over Oral Roberts on Tuesday, and it decided to play 12 innings en route to a 3-2 win against TCU on Friday at L. Dale Mitchell Park to start conference play.
The Sooners (20-4, 1-0) won on a bases-loaded passed ball through the catcher's legs to score senior right fielder Max White from third to give them their fifth walk-off victory of the season.
Key stat: 12 — Junior pitcher Jonathan Gray kept TCU batters off balanced all day Friday, striking out 12 Horned Frogs. Friday’s total tied a career high — set against Northwestern State last Friday — and made it 24 strikeouts in Gray’s last two outings. Also, the number represents the number of innings OU played Friday.
Key player: The Baseball Gods — I’m not trying to be funny here, so let’s just look at the two key facts. First, this game ended on a swinging passed ball through the catcher’s legs that would have been a strike even if junior second baseman Hector Lorenzana didn’t swing. Second, after junior first baseman Matt Oberste went hitless through his first five plate appearances, his teammates were able to hit around without scoring and the pitching staff kept TCU at bay in extra innings to allow him to step to the plate in the bottom of the 12th to tie OU’s record for the longest hit streak in program history. The Baseball Gods had to have some kind of hand on this game. Oberste even credited them in his postgame interview, and coach Sunny Golloway admitted “the stars” had something to do with this victory and Oberste's chances of getting to the plate again. The Baseball Gods do exist, and for some reason they were paying attention to what was happening at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Friday.
Honorable mention: Junior pitcher Jonathan Gray — The righty’s slider and command Friday were just dirty. His 87 mph (average speed) slider and 96-plus mph fastball were virtually unhittable in Gray’s nine-inning performance that ended in a no-decision. He also struck out 12 batters on 122 pitches (82 for strikes) while allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits to better his ERA to 1.41.
Hit-streak watch: Junior first baseman Matt Oberste came dangerously close to not tying the program record, going 0-for-4 with an RBI and walk through the first 11 innings, but he broke through with a double in the bottom of the 12th to move his hit streak to 27 games. Former OU baseball player Marty Neff set the record in 1991. He now has a chance to take sole possession of the record Saturday.
What it means: This was the Sooners’ first game in conference play this season, and starting the Big 12 slate with a victory in this fashion is always a good sign.
What’s next for the Sooners: OU and TCU will continue their series at 2 p.m. Saturday, weather permitting. Rain is supposed to hit the Norman area during the day, according to weather.com. Junior pitcher Dillon Overton is scheduled to start for the Sooners.