OU baseball: Johnson, Sooners happy to see Kyler Murray again

Former Oklahoma outfielder Kyler Murray walks in the dugout during the Sooners' game against Texas, May 24, 2018, at Bricktown Ballpark. (Kyle Phillips / The Transcript)

NORMAN — All Oklahoma baseball coach Skip Johnson wanted was for Kyler Murray to follow his heart, he said, whether that meant picking baseball or football.

Murray ultimately chose the latter, but was sure to stop by L. Dale Mitchell Park on Tuesday before his highly anticipated pro day workout at OU’s football facility Wednesday.

Johnson didn’t watch the televised throwing session, but enjoyed seeing Murray visit his old teammates on the diamond.

“I got to visit with him yesterday when he came by the field. It was awesome to see the guys and see us,” Johnson said. He wasn't surprised Murray's football workout went well.

“Kyler’s really instinctive, he really carries himself and prides himself in his work," he said. "It’s some things he does naturally, you know. He’s been born in that role so to speak.”

• Wiles OK: Junior starting pitcher Nathan Wiles turned his ankle warming up at Rice last week and was limited during his start.

“[It happened] in the first inning in the bullpen. In the fourth inning we just tried to get as much as we could out of him until we had to get him out of there,” Johnson said.

Wiles (3-0) is OK now and threw a bullpen Wednesday. He’s expected to start Saturday against Missouri State.

• Self control: Freshman midweek starter Ben Abram issued his first walk this season during Tuesday’s game against Texas Arlington. His arm control has kept the defense on its toes.

“When he’s pitching we know he’s going to fill up the zone, so we’ve got to be ready,” third baseman Brylie Ware said.

Abram’s poise has stood out to Johnson. The Ontario native’s work with Team Canada helped him in that regard, the coach believes.

“A lot of great pitchers will be throwing a pitch, a guy will hit one off the end of the bat and it’ll be a double and they’ll think about that pitch instead of getting to the next pitch,” Johnson said. “He has an innate ability [to regain control].”

• Prater’s performance: Sophomore left-hander Levi Prater threw an impressive shutout against Rice, surrendering just three hits in eight innings, to go with nine strikeouts and a walk.

Johnson said Prater benefited from watching Cade Cavalli struggle two games earlier. It was a good learning lesson.

“He got to watch that on Friday night,” Johnson said, “and I’m telling you, it was one of the best pitching performances I’ve seen in a long time. He was that in control.”

• This, that: OU leads the series with Missouri State 3-1. … Police, fire and EMS personnel can receive $5 tickets to Saturday’s “Hometown Heroes Day” game. … OU is off to at least a 14-3 start for the second time in three seasons. … Missouri State is 1-1 in its state of Oklahoma road swing. The Bears lost 13-2 on Tuesday at Oklahoma State and beat ORU 11-2 on Wednesday.