Bedlam baseball: Pitchers have become the feature acts

The lasting images of Bedlam baseball almost all involve booming bats, with players like Pete Incaviglia, Robin Ventura, Damon Minor. That's not the case anymore.
by John Helsley Published: May 3, 2012
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The lasting images of Bedlam baseball almost all involve booming bats.

Pete Incaviglia taking aim at the Marlboro Man above the old All-Sports Stadium's left-field wall.

Casey Bookout's sweet lefty swing launching moon shots into the Bricktown air.

Robin Ventura, Jimmy Barragan, Luke Scott and more for the Cowboys.

John Russell, Damon Minor, Garrett Buechele and others for the Sooners.

Good times? Not so much for the pitchers.

Until now, with million-dollar arms and 100 mph heaters – and also diminished bats – seemingly set to dictate the weekend ahead with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State resuming the Bedlam Series in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

The swagger is gone, at least from the batter's box.

The pitchers are the feature acts, particularly in Friday night's opener at ONEOK Field, with the Cowboys' Andrew Heaney facing the Sooners Jordan John in a pairing of elite left-handers. First pitch is at 7.

“I think pitching's going to definitely decide the series,” said OSU's Randy McCurry, who knows both sides as a starting pitcher and designated hitter.

“These new bats change the way people play.”

An equalizer for all those years of loaded aluminum, the NCAA's legislated deadening of the bats has transferred power to the mound.

The Cowboys and Sooners toil at the midsection of the Big 12's team batting average stats, hitting .268 and .267 respectively. But in the conference, only Baylor is batting better than .285.

Bunting is up. Blasts are down.

OSU, with all its renowned power history, has hit a league-low two home runs in 18 conference games.

The Cowboys do, however, lead the league in combined sacrifice bunts and flies in league play. Better than that, they're No. 2 in pitching, owning a team 2.74 earned run average.

OU's 3.85 ERA is stout, too, putting pitching at a premium as the two teams ready for a series that offers up an array of intriguing arms.

“You can't really help but notice it,” said Sooners shortstop Caleb Bushyhead. “You look at the arms and the depth that we've got and the arms and depth that they've got in their bullpen, just like we do, you can definitely see this being a big-time pitching matchup this weekend.”

And it starts in the opener.

Heaney, projected to be a first-round pick in next month's Major League Baseball draft, anchors the OSU rotation. He's 6-1 with three complete games and a 1.82 ERA over 11 starts. Named to the Golden Spikes Award watch list this week, Heaney ranks second nationally with 102 strikeouts in 84 innings pitched.


by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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Up next for OSU and OU

Cowboys

Tuesday: Ohio State, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Ohio State, 6:30 p.m.

May 11: Alcorn State, 6:30 p.m.

May 12: Alcorn State, 2 p.m.

May 13: Alcorn State, 1 p.m.

Sooners

May 11: Baylor, 6:30 p.m.

May 12: Baylor, 2 p.m.

May 13: Baylor, 1 p.m.

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