BLACKSBURG, Va. – Matt Oberste’s two-run single in the fifth inning gave Oklahoma the lead for good, and Sooners pitcher Jonathan Gray took care of the rest, as the Sooners knocked off Coastal Carolina 7-3 in the first game of the NCAA Blacksburg regional played at English Field.
Oklahoma (41-19), the No. 2 seed in the regional, trailed 3-0 after the Chanticleers touched Gray for two runs in the first inning and one in the second. But Gray, widely considered the top draft prospect in Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft next week, kept Coastal Carolina off the scoreboard for the rest of the game.
Gray (10-2) went the distance, giving up three runs (two earned) on nine hits. He struck out 11 and walked just one. He threw 129 pitches.
The Sooners rallied with two runs in the fourth, and then Oberste gave them the lead in the fifth inning. The All-Big 12 first baseman, who led the Sooners with a .384 average coming in, stepped up to the plate with two on after Jack Mayfield had singled and Max White reached on a bunt single. Both moved up a base after a throwing error on White’s bunt by Chris Suseck.
Oberste lined one to right center, bringing home both Mayfield and White and giving the Sooners a 4-3 lead. It marked his team-leading 15th multi-RBI game of the season.
White, who went 4-for-5, added insurance runs in the sixth and eighth innings on RBI singles. The Sooners plated another run in the eighth, and that was all Gray needed.
“I felt stronger as the game went on,” Gray said. “I started mixing off-speed pitches. They were attacking my fastball early, so we started mixing off-speed pitches, and I felt more comfortable as the game went on.”
Gray was at around 115 pitches after eight innings, but Sooners coach Sunny Golloway elected to bring him out for the ninth.
“He said he felt fine,” Golloway said. “Our limit is 125 pitches. But I’m not sure there was a person in the county who could have taken the ball away from him. I talked with someone after the game, and they told me that his last pitch was 102 (mph).”
The Chanticleers (37-22) got two hits and an RBI from Colin Hering.
The Sooners will play the winner of Friday evening’s Virginia Tech-Connecticut game on Saturday. Coastal Carolina will play the loser of the Tech-Connecticut game also on Saturday.