NORMAN — Chasing a Big 12 baseball championship, Oklahoma absorbed a sucker punch earlier this week when No. 2 pitcher Dillon Overton was lost indefinitely to an arm injury.
Going forward, Sunny Golloway figures to be doing some rotation manipulation, mixing and matching to give his Sooners the best shot at a title he admittedly covets.
And the manipulation started Friday night, when Golloway flipped ace Jonathan Gray to a Saturday start opposite Texas Tech standout Trey Masek, turning the series-opening mound work over to surprise starter Jake Fisher.
The move couldn't have worked any better — although OU must still get the final three outs in a game suspended by lightning and rain — with Fisher handling the Red Raiders and the Sooner bats responding for an 8-0 lead through eight innings.
The teams will return to Mitchell Park to start the top of the ninth inning at noon Saturday, with Game 2 scheduled for 2 p.m.
“Jake did a great job of setting us up, if we can finish the game (Saturday),” Golloway said.
“That's what I told our guys, the game isn't over. I've seen stranger things happen. We scored eight runs against Missouri with two outs on this field to leave them standing once.
“So this game's not over and I understand that.”
Fisher, with a little help from reliever Robert Tasin, pushed it to the limit, after Golloway countered Tech coach and former OU assistant Tim Tadlock's slotting of Masek for Game 2.
While Gray is the Big 12's dominant starter and the No. 2-ranked prospect in June's draft by MLB.com, Masek is the No. 81 prospect and a potential second-round pick who carries the conference's best earned run average of 0.92, although he earlier missed a month due to tendinitis in his arm and shoulder.
Golloway expected a matchup of premium arms Friday, only to be informed by Tadlock that Masek would be throwing Saturday. And seeing the clearest path to a series win and possible sweep coming through a showdown of aces, Golloway shuffled his weekend rotation.