NORMAN — The decision to delay the start of the Big 12 tournament until today allowed Oklahoma coach Sunny Golloway to alter his pitching rotation.
Jonathan Gray will get the start when the Sooners face Baylor at 9 a.m. today at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. Dillon Overton was originally slated to start in the tournament’s opening game.
Why make the switch?
“Because it’s the best arm in the country and it’s fresh and ready to go,” Golloway said of Gray, who is 8-2 with a 1.69 ERA. “Why wouldn’t you throw (Gray) right off the get-go?”
Gray hasn’t thrown since taking a no-decision in the Sooners’ 6-5 loss at Kansas State last Friday.
There’s another reason for using Gray today. There’s at least a 30 percent chance of rain today through Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.
“If it starts raining and we only played one game and I didn’t throw Jon, you guys would be asking to see my degree and making sure I actually graduated,” Golloway said.
Elite company: Gray has registered 115 strikeouts this season, crossing the 100-strikeout milestone for the second straight season. He is the sixth OU pitcher to accomplish the feat.
The previous five were Jackson Todd (1972-73), Marty Kunkler (1975-76), Bobby Witt (1984-85), Matt Ruebel (1990-91) and Mark Redman (1994-95). All five each was picked within the first four rounds of the MLB draft, three were All-Americans (Todd, Witt, Redman) and two became MLB All-Stars (Witt, Redman).
Playing loose: Golloway allowed catcher Anthony Hermelyn to call the pitches in the 7-3 victory over Kansas State last Sunday. It was the first time this season pitching coach Jack Giese didn’t do it.
Whether it carries over into the Big 12 tournament is still being debated, but in the regular-season finale it had the desired effect.