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April 6, 2013

Gray still tough enough to spur win over ’Horns

(Continued)

AUSTIN, Texas —

Gray wasn’t as sharp as he’s been throughout the season. In his previous three starts, he threw 27 innings and registered 36 strike outs in those games. 

“I felt kinda of funny the whole game. My mechanics were off and I had to do a bunch of things to tweak it and stay in there,” Gray said. “The whole game was a grind. I just had to find a way to win.”

He did that in the bottom of the sixth inning. With the bases loaded, he struck out Alex Silver and induced a groundout to second base from Brooks Marlow to get out of the jam.

“People keep asking me what makes him so special because he’s always had great stuff. What’s changed is his mental toughness,” OU coach Sunny Golloway said of Gray. “To win without your good stuff, you have to be mentally tough. He threw the ball better with bases loaded to those two hitters than he did the rest of the game.”

It didn’t hurt OU that its bullpen matched Gray’s effort.

Jake Fisher came on with runners at second and third and two outs in the seventh inning. Fisher fanned Erich Weiss, who went 2 for 4, to end the threat and then cruised through the eighth inning before turning the ball over to Jacob Evans for the ninth.

Evans, a freshman, mowed the Longhorns down in order to get his sixth save of the season.

Parker French (3-2) took the loss. He threw 51⁄3 solid innings, giving up five hits and two runs.

The difference in the game was the two-out, RBI single from Hermelyn in the sixth inning. A lot of OU’s losses to Texas over the previous 14 seasons had come down to hits like that one.

“We came in here and did everything we had to do to get a win on Friday night,” Hermelyn said. “This is a confidence builder.”

The Sooners will find out if that carries over when the teams square off in Game 2 at 2:30 p.m. today.

John Shinn

Follow me @john_shinn

jshinn@normantranscript.com

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