Stillwater News Press

Sports

March 30, 2013

Cowboys sweep doubleheader to take series from Longhorns

STILLWATER, Okla. — Having to play essentially a doubleheader Saturday, Oklahoma State relied on its bullpen to clinch a series win over Big 12 Conference foe Texas at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.

With Friday’s Game 2 being postponed due to inclement weather in the bottom of the second inning, the No. 18 Cowboys lost a true start by Mark Robinette but made due with nine pitchers — including a one-out appearance from Robinette in the series finale — over the next 16 innings of play.

“It was a great response by our team. It was the first time we had lost on a Friday all year and we had the ultimate challenge of starting (Friday) only to see us get rain and having to turn around and string together 17 innings of quality baseball,” OSU coach Josh Holliday said. “It’s not easy to do, especially against a team like Texas who is very talented on the mound — and doing minus a true outing out of our second starting pitcher. It was a unique opportunity, a great challenge and one that our kids responded to well.”

In both games it was first-year closer Brendan McCurry clinching the wins for the Cowboys.

In Saturday’s first game McCurry recorded five outs in an 8-3 victory. Vince Wheeland earned his sixth win of the season taking over at the start of the day. In the finale, McCurry picked up a two-inning save in a much tighter affair in which OSU held off Texas for a 5-4 win.

“In the college game, if you are going to put a good pitcher down in the bullpen you have to use him when you have the lead,” Holliday said. “You can’t run it like a major league team where you only them in when you’re ahead for one inning, because otherwise you won’t get to use some of your best pitchers.”

The pair of saves for McCurry, a junior transfer from Howard County Junior College (Big Springs, Texas) and the younger brother of Randy McCurry, were just his third and fourth of the season, largely due to OSU’s penchant for late-inning, come-from-behind victories.

“They threw me in the closer role because I can do just that — I can pitch one, two, three, four, five, six innings if they need me to,” McCurry said. “It just all comes down to arm strength. What you do on your off time is really what can get you to throw (multiple) innings.”

In the day’s opener, which began with OSU leading 3-1 from Friday night, the Cowboys found themselves clinching just a one-run lead in the eighth. But the OSU offense blew up for a four-run rally in the bottom of the frame to put the game out of reach.

Saulyer Saxon led off with a pinch-hit single to left, then Stillwater High graduate Corey Hassel got the first run across with a single off the pitcher that trickled into right field to allow Saxon to score from second base. Hassel and Donnie Walton would scored on a double by Jarrett Higgins. Texas allowed OSU to score another run when the third baseman misplayed a shot by Robbie Rea to keep the inning alive. Higgins would score from third on a wild pitch.

Saxon would also be key to OSU’s hot start to the series finale.

The Cowboys scored four runs in the first inning. Saxon started the big inning with a single to right. Tanner Krietemeier, who saw his 18-game hitting streak end in Game 2, followed with a double to left. Catcher Victor Romero loaded the bases with a walk and two outs in the inning.

The Texas defense, so effective in Game 1 of the series on Thursday, failed to bail out starting pitcher Nathan Thornhill. Randy McCurry reached on an error by the third baseman, which allowed Saxon and Krietemeier to score. A Rea double down the right field line brought home Romero and McCurry.

Rea would be responsible for the game-deciding run in the fourth inning when he reached on a one-out walk. After a passed ball allowed him to advance to second, Walton drove Rea home on a double to right.

With the series win, Oklahoma State moves into a tie with Baylor for second in the Big 12 standings at 3-2. The Cowboys will play a non-conference game against No. 11 Oklahoma in Norman on Tuesday before traveling to Lawrence, Kan., to begin a three-game series against the University of Kansas.

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