By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
On the arm of left-hander Tyler Nurdin, Oklahoma State clinched more than just a series win Friday over West Virginia.
With the 5-0 victory at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium — coupled with a 7-1 victory by Texas Tech over Baylor — the 16th-ranked Cowboys clinched at least a top three finish in the Big 12 Conference standings, and still have a chance to move up to second with a win Saturday.
“There’s a lot of good teams in this conference,” Nurdin said. “It’s a great conference, so to be sitting third heading into the Big 12 tournament (next week in Oklahoma City) would allow us to do great things.”
For the second time this season, OSU’s Saturday starter went the full nine innings and really only had one danger inning.
In the top of the fifth, after the Cowboys had left the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth, West Virginia returned the favor by loading the bases with three straight singles. But Nurdin got out of the jam with a liner and groundout.
“I think the momentum of the whole game came down to how he escaped that fifth inning,” OSU coach Josh Holliday said. “We had a chance in the bottom of the fourth to do something and they escaped it, they Tyler faces the bases loaded with one out and comes back to escape. And then we answered with five runs. He was pitching pretty darn good.”
Oklahoma State broke open the game with the aid of West Virginia’s defense in the bottom half of the fifth.
Jarrett Higgins led off the inning with a walk and Saulyer Saxon laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt in front of the mound that WVU pitcher John Means threw over the head of the first baseman, allowing Higgins and Saxon to advance. Aaron Cornell followed with a single through the right side of the infield, which was drawn in, to plate Higgins for the first run.
Tanner Krietemeier laid a bunt down the first base line to score Saxon. Randy McCurry then dropped a hit down the left field line to trade places with Cornell for the third run of the inning.
Another error by the Mountaineers, a throwing mistake by the third baseman, kept the inning going.
A walk to Zach Fish loaded the bases and a line drive off the first baseman’s glove by Donnie Walton allowed McCurry and Robbie Rea, who reached on the error, to score the final two runs.
With the five runs behind him, Nurdin pitched lights out the final four innings — giving up no hits and allowing just one base runner on a walk in the eighth. Nurdin finished with four hits and one walk while striking out seven to improve his record to 4-2.
“Words can’t describe what that does for you. You’re confidence just goes through the roof and you feel ready to go after that,” Nurdin said of getting that type of run support.
Oklahoma State will go for its first three-game sweep of the season with Saturday’s finale at 3 p.m. at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium. The Cowboys will be recognizing the program’s seniors during the final home contest of the regular season.