By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Oklahoma State University played catch up the entire game of Saturday’s series finale with West Virginia at Allie P. Reynolds, and never could quite get over the hump.
The Cowboys would respond after each Mountaineer score but it wouldn’t be enough as they lost the finale 5-4 on Senior Day.
“We kept coming at it. It was just one of those days that we couldn’t really get that big moment early on and it forced us into the corner late where we had to try to scramble back,” OSU coach Josh Holliday said. “As I told our kids, it wasn’t our best ball game of the year, but we’ve got to put it behind us and it’s time to move forward and regroup and get ready for the postseason tournament.”
The loss prevented OSU from getting its first three-game series sweep this season. For the year, the Cowboys went 5-7 in Game 3 contests, with the mark being 2-5 in Big 12 Conference play. Oklahoma State will be the second seed for the Big 12 championship after Kansas State beat Oklahoma.
“Sweeping people is really hard. Sweeping doesn’t happen much,” Holliday said. “Winning series is what it’s all about. Winning three times in a row is hard — it’s hard in anything. It’s hard to beat your brother three times at HORSE. It’s not anything that you concern about.”
West Virginia scored in the first to give the Mountaineers their first lead of the series. The leadoff batter reached on a single through the right side of the infield and was advanced around to third. He came home on a sacrifice fly to right.
Oklahoma State tied it in the bottom half of the inning. Leadoff batter Saulyer Saxon was hit by a pitch, sacrificed to second on a bunt by freshman Donnie Walton (which tied an OSU record for sac bunts in a season with 16) and reached third on a wild pitch. Senior Randy McCurry brought Saxon in on a single to right.
West Virginia got aggressive in the seventh, and it backfired for the Mountaineers. After getting the leadoff batter aboard, relief pitcher Jon Perrin picked him off. The next batter tried to make it to second on a fielding error by Krietemeier, but right fielder Zach Fish gunned him down.
Another error by the OSU infield kept the inning alive, but with runners in scoring position Perrin pitched out of the jam with check-swing strikeout to prevent the Mountaineers from adding to their lead. Unfortunately, Perrin gave up a two-out solo shot to Matt Frazer in the top of the eighth that put the Mountaineers up by two heading into OSU’s final two at-bats.
Oklahoma State got a threat in the eighth thanks to a fielding error and a single by Rick Stover with two outs, but senior pinch-hitter Trey Whaley struck out swinging.
West Virginia scratched another run across in the top of the ninth — which would prove to be important — against OSU closer Brendan McCurry. The junior closer, the younger brother of Randy McCurry, gave up back-to-back singles and eventually loaded the bases by hitting a batter. A third single in the inning allowed a runner to score, before Brendan ended the inning with a pair of infield pop ups.
Things got interesting in the bottom of the ninth, however, with West Virginia looking for the final out of the game. Tanner Krietemeier and Randy McCurry took Mountaineer reliever Ryan Tezak yard on back-to-back at-bats — both hit solo shots into the net over the left field wall.
“We tried. We’re never out of it. We always stay with it to the end,” the senior McCurry said.
However, fellow senior infielder Robbie Rea didn’t have as positive of a final home game, grounding out to second for the final out and to finish 0 for 5 from the plate as he continues to be mired in a late-season slump.
“We’re not in this position without Randy and Robbie and certainly not Victor (Romero, senior catcher) and good contributions from (fellow seniors) Trey (Whaley) and Jarrett (Higgins),” Holliday said. “All those seniors have been a big part of our success.”
The Cowboys will start the double-elimination Big 12 Conference Championship on Wednesday at Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City. Opponent and start time have yet to be announced.