By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
It wasn’t exactly pretty, but the Oklahoma State baseball team got the test — and the win — it needed as it prepares to open conference play against defending Big 12 champion Baylor this weekend.
Oklahoma State scored four runs in the first three innings — including three in the third — as the Cowboys held off Southeastern Oklahoma 5-3 Wednesday at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
“Playing close games was great for us,” Oklahoma State coach Josh Holliday said. “It gave Brendan (McCurry) a chance to get a save. It gave our offense a chance to feel a little bit of pressure to create some more runs, because you never want to let a team hang around and be a run down going into the ninth inning. So close games are good for us and the fact that their pitchers threw well and competed very well, it was great.”
Gage Green scored two runs and stole three bases as Cowboys scattered four hits to Southeastern’s seven. The Pokes (18-3) were also aided by three Southeastern errors, the last being Trevor Bowen’s crucial drop on a popfly that allowed Saulyer Saxon to score a key insurance run in the bottom of the eighth.
“You think the guy is going to catch it, but our coaches tell us to run everything out,” Green said. “I was on second and rounded it out and the next thing I know (Saxon) ended up scoring.”
Oklahoma State struck first as Tanner Krietemeier singled home Green in the top of the first. The Cowboys threatened to add more, but couldn’t come up with the timely hit as Zach Fish and Victor Romero were stranded at the corners.
Clinging to a 1-0 lead, Oklahoma State’s bats finally started to heat up in the bottom of the third. Thanks to RBI singles from Randy McCurry and Saxon, the Cowboys sent nine batters to the plate and tallied three runs on three hits. All three of Oklahoma State’s runs came with two outs, but the Cowboys did leave the bases loaded.
“We had like a little mindset that we were going to get after (Southeastern’s Vance Woodruff) a little bit,” Green said. “Once we did it, guys just started settling back. We just have to treat this like a normal game and not worry about getting up by a lot.”
That’s when things started to unravel for the Cowboys. With two runners on, Chevis Springer’s rope to left got through Fish’s legs and rolled to the wall for an RBI double, trimming the Cowboys’ lead to 4-1 heading into the bottom of the fourth.
The Savage Storm (16-11) didn’t stop there. With Oklahoma State starter Kenton Bevaqua out, reliever Jon Perrin struggled to get anybody out as Southeastern strung together three straight singles to score two runs in the top of the fifth.
“We brought Jon Perrin in to start him in fresh and he wasn’t as sharp as he’s capable of being,” Holliday said. “He’s a guy that needs to get going because he’s given us some good innings earlier in the year. He’s in a little bit of a rut right now that he’ll get through and he’ll come back to us strong.”
While Southeastern’s offense came to life during the middle innings, Brandon Marris handcuffed the Cowboys through the middle innings. Marris allowed one hit and four walks in 4.1 innings before giving way to Cameron Mann in the eighth.
“I don’t think we struggled early,” Holliday said. “... I just give credit to Brandon Marris. I thought he pitched really good in those middle innings. ... We had runners against him, but we were unable to really center a base hit.”
Southeastern made it a little interesting late as Nick Grimmett doubled off Brendan McCurry in the top of the eighth, but McCurry slammed the door as Springer grounded out to third to end the inning.
McCurry then worked a perfect ninth inning to pick up his second save of the season, allowing just Grimmett’s double in 1.2 innings.
“It doesn’t do any good to have a closer and not give him the ball when you’re ahead,” Holliday said. “It work out well. We got him 25 pitches of quality work and he came in and got the save.
Vince Wheeland (5-0) picked up the win for the Cowboys, striking out all four batters he faced while working 1.1 innings in relief of Bevacqua and Perrin.
As a team, Oklahoma State stole eight bases, while Krietemeier led the way for the Cowboys’ offense by going 1-for-3 with an RBI. Saxon also went 1-for-2 with an RBI and Randy McCurry was 1-for-4 with an RBI as well.
“Southeastern was a really good team and it really does help us get ready for Baylor,” Green said. “I know they’re a Division II school, but it doesn’t matter what level it is. Everybody comes out and plays hard. It’s the game of baseball — anything can happen. We just tried to stayed positive and were able to get the win.”
The Cowboys will open the conference season against Baylor at 3 p.m. Friday at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.