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3 takeaways from OU baseball's mid-week wins over UNLV

Gray Harrison

Junior pitcher Gray Harrison during the game against UNLV on March 7.

Oklahoma (8-5) earned two wins over UNLV (5-8) on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Sooners defeated the Rebels 11-6 in game one and 8-7 in game two.

Here are the three takeaways from the mid-week matchups: 

Gray Harrison emerges

Gray Harrison dominated on the mound on Tuesday.

The junior transfer from McLennan Community College pitched four innings and allowed no hits or runs with five strikeouts and three walks.

With OU struggling offensively in the early parts of the game, the junior’s spot-on performance was crucial for the Sooners. 

Harrison made his Oklahoma debut in the season opener against Cal Baptist but struggled allowing four hits and three runs in his one inning of relief. However, in his last five innings across two appearances the right-hander hasn’t allowed a hit, improving his season earned-runs average to 4.50.

Offense explodes

The Sooners rebounded from slow starts offensively to put up big numbers in both contests.

On Tuesday, OU was scoreless for the first five innings, but rallied to score 11 runs, six of them being in the eighth inning.

Then on Wednesday, OU fell behind 6-1, but responded with five runs after the 6th inning to tie the game. Oklahoma would score two runs in the ninth to secure another win.

Sophomore infielder Jackson Nicklaus led the way with a 4-for-4 showing and Bryce Madron went 2 of 5 and knocked in four RBIs. 

On Wednesday, freshman Rocco Garza-Gongora went 3 for 4 and redshirt junior Kendall Pettis went 2 for 2. 

Freshman Easton Carmichael, who’s been OU’s every-day starter at catcher, got Tuesday off, but entered the lineup as a pinch hitter for sophomore Wallace Clark who exited in the 5th inning.

 Carmichael went 3 for 3 at the plate and finished the mid-week games 4-of-7 with five total RBIs. He also hit a two-run home run on Wednesday.

Carmichael raised his batting average to .391, which ranks second on the team, after his strong showing at the Frisco Collegiate Classic last weekend.

Sooners bullpen thrives

Head coach Skip Johnson turned to a combined nine bullpen arms in both games against UNLV.

Outside of six runs allowed by sophomore TCU transfer Gray Thomas, the Sooners’ bullpen allowed a combined six hits and six runs. 

On Tuesday, sophomore Texas Tech transfer James Hitt and junior Jett Lodes both relieved Harrison with two scoreless innings with two strikeouts each. Sophomore Colton Sundloff got the final two outs of the game with no damage.

On Wednesday, after redshirt senior Braden Carmichael allowed five runs in the third inning Johnson looked to a string of relief pitchers to finish the game. 

Junior Carson Pierce, freshman Julien Hachem, sophomore Aaron Calhoun, junior Carter Campbell and sophomore Aaron Weber combined for 4.5 innings in relief, allowing a mere three hits and two runs.

Weber earned the save, and the only two runs UNLV scored against OU’s bullpen were in the fourth and ninth innings off Pierce and Campbell, respectively.

The Sooners return to action against Houston at 6:30 p.m. on Friday in Houston.

This story was edited by Austin Curtright.

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