By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
It wasn’t exactly the offensive output of the first game, but when it came down to it the Oklahoma State baseball team got just enough timely hits to beat Iona 6-1, completing a doubleheader sweep Saturday at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
“It was good for us,” Oklahoma State coach Josh Holliday said. “We needed to play a good, close ballgame and that was a close ballgame right up until the bottom of the eighth when we put three more up to separate ourselves at 6-1.”
Oklahoma State freshman Donnie Walton went 3-for-4 with the go-ahead RBI double as the Cowboys (16-3) overcame a slow offensive start to score three of their six runs in the bottom of the sixth.
“We knew it was going to be a long day with a doubleheader,” Walton said. “We need to focus up and get runs earlier and get a groove. ... We might have come out over-confident or it might just have been a lack of focus. We talked about it after the game. We need to come out and have that same focus that we had in the first game.”
Iona (2-16) started the second game by grabbing an early lead as Matt Kriss drove in Joe Torres with an RBI single in the top of the first.
The Cowboys had their chances to even the score when two walks and a hit batsman loaded the bases for Zach Fish with two outs in the bottom of the third. Fish couldn’t put the ball in play and was caught looking on an inside strike as Iona starter Steve Basile escaped without any damage.
“We had him on the ropes a couple of times and he escaped,” Holliday said. “We had a couple opportunities with a couple runners on base early, but we weren’t able to execute like we intended to put those guys in scoring position. To our guys’ credit, they did battle and did get him up to about 100 pitches after five innings. When you’re able to get to their starter in the fifth, you force the other team’s bullpen to come up with the rest of those innings. You saw when we got in their bullpen we were able to put together a couple of really nice innings and pull out six runs.”
With Basile tiring, Oklahoma State finally got the offense going in the bottom of the sixth as back-to-back singles by Fish and Victor Romero put runners at the corners with no outs for Randy McCurry. McCurry drove in Fish with a sacrifice fly before Walton’s two-out RBI double down the line in left gave the Cowboys a lead they never relinquished. Walton later scored on Aaron Cornell’s single as Oklahoma State took a 3-1 lead after six innings.
“I knew we needed a good at-bat right there,” Walton said. “I was looking middle, away because they had been living out there the whole game. He gave me one and I put a good swing on it.”
Following a single by Cornell, Tanner Krietemeier added some insurance in the bottom of the eighth with a double to left that scored Brandon McCurry. Cornell then scored on a wild pitch before Fish drove in Krietemeier with a single for the final Oklahoma State tally.
Vince Wheeland (4-0) picked up the win for Oklahoma State, allowing just two hits while striking out five in four innings of relief work for Randy McCurry. McCurry earned a no decision, giving up one run on three hits in four innings before being lifted due to an injury.
“Vince continues to do a great job out of the bullpen,” Holliday said. “He’s kind of become a go-to guy for us. He can shorten a game by getting us through those middle innings and working us into the late innings.
“Both Randy and Vince gave us four quality innings. You can’t ask for a whole lot more than that, especially when you’re asking a guy in Randy — who has not started a game this year — to go out and stretch himself out a little bit.”
Oklahoma State 16, Iona 0
The Oklahoma State offense may have struggled in the second game of the doubleheader, but that was not the case in the first game.
Romero went 1-for-4 with three RBIs while Fish and Krietemeier each went 3 for 3 with two RBIs as Oklahoma State pounded out 16 hits and scored nine runs in the fourth inning en route to a 16-0 run-rule victory over the Gaels.
“Both Fish and Krietemeier played really well,” Holliday said. “They work hard each day. They get themselves ready to hit with pre-game preparation and I think they go into the game with a good mindset. They’re just repeating quality performances and that’s what baseball is all about.”
Oklahoma State started the game scoring three runs in the first — two coming off Romero’s single — as the Cowboys took a 3-0 lead after one inning.
The Cowboys then added four more in the third before Oklahoma State’s offense exploded in the fourth. With one out, Krietemeier started the inning by singling home Cornell. Two pitchers and 10 batters later, Iona finally recorded the second out of the inning as eight straight runners crossed the plate for the Cowboys.
“We were excited about doing that,” Walton said. “Our whole team was just seeing the ball well and we had good approaches at the plate. It gave us a groove to keep going after one another and put good swings up at the plate.”
On the mound, Mark Robinette (1-0) was nothing short of spectacular, allowing just three hits and striking out a career-high five batters in six innings. Reid Barrett finished off the game by throwing a perfect frame in the seventh.
“(Robinette) came out really aggressive, and you could see that in his demeanor today,” Holliday said. “He attacked them with his fastball-slider combination. We were really good offensively and jumped on them early. That gave him a lot of breathing room and aided in his aggression and allowed him to attack with strike one. It was a really positive outing.”