NORMAN — Oklahoma’s players were stunned when they arrived a L. Dale Mitchell Park Saturday. They were about to play New Orleans in the middle of the three-game series. No one was really studying the Big 12 Conference standing.
They found out they were no longer leading the league — Baylor was. Saturday’s 14-5 victory over the Privateers didn’t do anything to change that. The approach OU used, however, is what it hopes carries over.
OU coach Sunny Golloway juggled the lineup prior to the series. The goal was to get more runners on base and more runs on the scoreboard.
It has worked. After Saturday’s win, the Sooners are hitting .444 in the series and have scored 34 runs.
“It’s good to get these hits and get the ball rolling. We have to,” said outfielder Max White, who went 4 for 5 and belted his third homer of the season. “We have a good chance to win the Big 12 championship, but we have to get that momentum rolling.”
Whatever momentum the Sooners (30-10) amassed in Friday night’s 10-0 victory over the Privateers carried into Game 2. OU scored runs in the first seven innings and collected 19 hits, including nine for extra bases.
Second baseman Hector Lorenzana believes OU is starting to play the way it did earlier in the season.
“Early in the season, we were coming out here without fear,” he said. “We were doing the thing we love and it was fun. We have to keep it going that way.”
New Orleans (6-35) hasn’t offered much resistance. Alex Smith (2-7) took the loss after giving up 12 hits and eight earned runs over four innings.
The only difference between Game 2 and Game 1 of the series was OU pitcher Dillon Overton did give up some runs. The left-hander improved to 8-2 with the victory, but did allow four runs on seven hits.
“I left a couple pitches up and they made me pay for it like anybody else in our conference would do,” Overton said. “They’re playing college baseball for a reason and I have to be better about keeping my pitches down when the wind is blowing out like this.”
L. Dale Mitchell Park was a hitter’s paradise Saturday. The wind howled out to left field. Anything hit in the air with any force at all left the ballpark. Balls hit down the right-field line were subject to land anywhere.
OU took advantage of it. White and Colt Bickerstaff both homered and the Sooners banged holes in the left-field wall with six doubles.
By the end of the sixth inning, the Sooners erected a 12-4 lead and were cruising to another easy victory. They’ll go for the sweep at 1 p.m. today.
Taking the series against the Privateers was expected, but OU coach Sunny Golloway’s secondary goal was to change his club’s mindset for when Big 12 Conference play resumes.
“It’s about confidence and I think our guys are playing confidently right now,” he said. “The conference can kinda steal that from you at times. Maybe the bye week has come at the right time for us. It’s allowed to get a little bit of confidence. We haven’t been able to score many runs and that’s not a secret. We changed our lineup up and the guys seem to have taken to it. I don’t care who is on the mound, it’s the approach that I see. Our approach has been pretty good.”