OU's Damien Magnifico pitches 4-0 win over Arkansas
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
4/11/12 at 4:29 AM
NORMAN - Oklahoma pitcher Damien Magnifico has a star's name. A star's right arm, too, with a fastball that reaches 103 miles per hour.
What he didn't have was the major college outing. Not before Tuesday night's start against Arkansas, anyhow.
His 4-0 victory should change that.
"Are you Damien Magnifico?" an admirer gushed playfully to him in the OU dugout, after he allowed three hits over 8 2/3 innings. "Can I have your autograph?"
Magnifico better get used to signing if Tuesday is any indication.
"He's going to pitch in the big leagues some day," coach Sunny Golloway said after his 19-14 team won for the first time since losing three straight at Texas A&M last weekend. "He's going to make so much money I might have to borrow some."
What Magnifico is learning is he'll make a lot more by harnessing that arm of his. It's what he did Tuesday, in his first start since lasting less than five innings against Oregon State March 11.
"He'd slow it down to 95 sometimes," said Max White, whose two doubles and two RBIs provided ample support. "It was almost like a change-up."
"You see some guys laboring to get to 92 or 93," Golloway said. "He backs off to 94 or 95."
That way, Magnifico was more effective than glamorous. He struck out just four, but walked only three. That's a strong number, considering Arkansas leads the Southeastern Conference in bases on balls.
It was almost as if Mangifico watched a Bull Durham rerun.
Turns out, it wasn't Nuke LaLoosh but Justin Verlander who convinced him to change philosophies.
"Last weekend at A&M, I watched Verlander pitch against the Red Sox," Magnifico said. "He was at 91 or 93, and then he'd bump it up when he needed to." Verlander two-hit Boston over eight innings, a line similar to Magnifico's Tuesday night at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
He could still bring it when required, hitting 100 miles per hour on 22 of his 103 pitches. He also brought finesse and understanding, a sign that perhaps this literally was the start of something big.
"Just throwing it down in the zone, getting them to hit ground balls," Magnifico said. "It's a lot easier than throwing a lot of pitches and getting strikeouts. ...
"It's the best I've felt. I was more fluid. In the sixth, Neal (Dylan Neal, OU's catcher) asked me how I felt. I told him I felt like I hadn't been throwing, really. It was coming out easy. It was just one of those days."
OU 4, Arkansas 0
Fant, Moore (3), Daniel (5), Sanburn (6), Gunn (8) and Wise, Reeves; Magnifico, Okert (9) and Neal. W: Magnifico (1-0). L: Fant (1-2). S: Okert (1).
Original Print Headline: OU pitcher finds his pace
Guerin Emig 918-581-8355
Oklahoma's Damien Magnifico pitches against Arkansas at L. Dale Mitchell Park in Norman on Tuesday. The Sooners won, 4-0, as Magnifico struck out four over 8 2/3 innings. BRYAN TERRY / The Oklahoman