By Andrew Glover
NORMAN, Okla. —
The 2013 edition of the Bedlam baseball battle will likely be known as the Gage Green series.
After coming through Friday night with the game-winning RBI, Green scored the game-deciding run Saturday at Bricktown Ballpark — by stealing home.
“The best thing about Gage is how hard he competes and how much he cares about this team. You cannot find enough people in the world like that,” OSU first-year coach Josh Holliday said. “This kid would do anything for Oklahoma State and you can see it in his play every day. ... This kid is a baseball player and a winner.”
While the run put 19th-ranked OSU up by two over No. 13 Oklahoma, the run proved important as the Sooners scored one in the bottom half of the frame and the Cowboys held on for a 4-3 win to clinch the series victory and set up a chance for the sweep in Sunday’s finale at 1 p.m. at Bricktown Ballpark.
Green carried over his solid start at catcher on Friday into his move back to his regular position in left field. In the bottom of the first, Green tracked down a shot by OU’s Max White at the wall that would have easily gone for extra bases had he not made the leaping catch.
“I didn’t know where I was ... and couldn’t tell how much room I had and just saw the wall out of the corner of my eye,” Green said. “When I jumped up, I had probably one more step to the wall.”
Oklahoma State (36-12, 11-8 in Big 12) used the momentum of the Green grab into the top half of the second.
Randy McCurry gave OSU a leadoff base runner when he was plunked by OU ace Jonathan Gray, who is being projected as the potential top pick in the MLB Draft. He was plated on a double by catcher Victor Romero, who returned for Saturday’s contest after sitting out Friday with an injury. Romero then scored on a two-out triple by Robbie Rea that hit the right field line.
“When anybody on the defense makes a spectacular play or is laying out for a ball, it just gets everybody fired up and gets the momentum going and we carried it over to the plate,” Green said.
The Cowboys scratched another run across in the top of the fifth with some more clutch two-out hitting. Donnie Walton started the small rally on a single to left with two outs and was followed with back-to-back singles by Tanner Krietemeier and Randy McCurry.
It would prove to be the last OSU would see of Gray, who didn’t come back out for the sixth and finished with three earned runs on six hits, three walks and a hit batter. He also had eight strikeouts in his five innings of work in his second loss of the year.
“It seemed like everything that could have gone bad went bad for me. I take full credit for that loss,” Gray said. “I didn’t give us a strong start.”
In the bottom half of the sixth, OU (34-16, 11-9) finally got on the board by getting to OSU starting pitcher Tyler Nurdin — who earned the win by going 5 2/3 innings with two earned runs on two walks and two hits. Nurdin filled the bases and made way for Vince Wheeland with two outs. The OSU relief pitcher gave up a two-out, two-run single to Hector Lorenzana before striking out Garrett Carey for the final out of the inning.
But the most buzz for the Bedlam crowd of 7,108 — the smallest attendance at Bricktown Ballpark for a Saturday Bedlam contest, falling well short of last year’s previous low of 7,408 — came a few innings later in the top of the eighth.
With OSU clinging to a 3-2 lead, Green led off with a double and advanced to third when the center fielder booted the ball. The Cowboys had nothing doing with the next two batters and with Saulyer Saxon at the plate, Green stole home — sliding in safely when the throw home from OU pitcher Jacob Evans went to the backstop.
“They told me that if he gets in the windup that we were going to see what his timing was and as soon as Saxon got two strikes on him, we were going to try to go for it,” Green said. “And it ended up working out.”
The Sooners put another run on the board in the bottom of the eighth on a sacrifice fly from Carey to score White, who had led off the inning with a single and advanced to third on a double by Lorenzana. But OSU closer Brendan McCurry kept the damage at that by inducing an inning-ending groundout.
In the ninth, OSU’s closer capped his seventh save of the season — and third in Big 12 Conference play — with three straight outs. He finished the final 2 2/3 on the mound with three strikeouts and the one run on two hits.