Magnificent Magnifico

NORMAN, Okla. — The Sooners tapped their JUCO transfer flamethrower for a midweek start against No. 9 Arkansas and pitcher Damien Magnifico did not disappoint, lasting 8 2/3 and allowing just three hits as they shut out the visiting Hogs 4-0 Tuesday night at L. Dale Mitchell Park.

All night, the hurler had a very solid Arkansas lineup off balance.

He dealt just four strikeouts but let his defense play behind him.

And he did so by locating his pitches in the spots they needed to be in.

"This is the best I've felt all year," said Magnifico, who finished with a season-high 103 pitches. "Everything felt fluid. I've realized I have to throw strikes.I can't just go out there and try to overpower people.Throwing strikes is all it comes down to."

Because he stayed in and around the zone for most of the night, walking just three out of his 28 batters faced, Magnifico forced the Hogs hitters to battle off pitchers pitch after pitchers pitch throughout.

That led to Arkansas popping up cans of corns or rolling up weak ground balls in the middle of the infield.

"It's real simple, if he's ahead in the count, then you know now you're behind in the count," said head coach Sunny Golloway. "You start swinging at stuff out of the zone. It gets real tough as a hitter if you're behind in the count, so he becomes more effective."

Consider that plus the fact that he maintained his velocity throughout--Magnifico touched 100 in the eighth inning--and that's what Arkansas was dealing with on this night.

Even when he took some off, he was still touching near 100 on the radar gun, many times on the black.

"We've asked him to back off a little bit and make sure he gets strike one in there," Golloway said. "When you ask him to back off, it's still coming in at 95 [miles per hour] … When he's ahead in the count, it gets really tough."

And all the while, the Sooners were producing hits at key times, most of which came from center fielder Max White.

White had a pair of two-out RBIs, including a two-bagger that plated shortstop Caleb Bushyhead in the first and a single that scored Bushyhead again in the fifth.

"I'm more on my legs," White said. "My swing is--I'm more upright. I'm not dipping on balls, diving for balls. I have pretty long arms, so extension is not an issue. So, keeping my chest up and standing up stall is the main concern."

Designated hitter Evan Mistich ripped an RBI single sandwiched in between those two clutch run-scoring hits by White, and it was 3-0 after the fifth.

Left fielder Erik Ross reached on a throwing error and later scored on a wild pitch to cap off all the scoring in the seventh.

Pitcher Steven Okert recorded the save after getting the final out with runners on first and second.

The Sooners (19-14) get back to Big 12 play this weekend when they host Missouri in a three-game set that starts at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

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