LOS ANGELES – Oklahoma State overcame its largest deficit for a win this season Friday night as the Cowboys rallied from six runs down to claim an 11-6 triumph over USC in the opening game of the Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic at Dedeaux Field.
The Cowboys erupted for seven runs on five hits in the third inning to propel them to the victory as they improved to 8-4. USC fell to 4-8.
"That was an amazing, gritty performance by our kids," said OSU coach Josh Holliday. "To fall behind early like that and kind of have the wheels fall off in a couple of different fashions and not handle things particularly well but then have a response like that in the top of the third was pretty special, one of the better responses and wins that I can remember in quite some time. The way it turned so fast was pretty amazing."
Peyton Battenfield was lights out in relief of starter Mitchell Stone to help carry OSU to the win. The junior righty worked the final seven innings, striking out a career-high seven and keeping the Trojans off the scoreboard to move to 3-1 on the season.
"That was seven of the best, cleanest, most aggressive, well-pitched innings that you could ever hope to see a guy come out of the bullpen and give you, and he did so in a prime moment, on the road against a team that had already put up six runs," Holliday said. "That was a pretty strong statement by Peyton Battenfield."
The Trojans jumped out to a 2-0 lead in their first at-bat before tagging Stone for four runs, three of them unearned, in the second inning as they took advantage of an error and a pair of wild pitches en route to a 6-0 advantage.
But in the pivotal third, OSU mounted a two-out rally. Following a single by Andrew Navigato and a walk to Christian Funk, the Cowboys loaded the bases. Up next, Colin Simpson picked up an RBI as he drew a walk to bring home the Pokes' first run.
The OSU bats then came alive as four-straight hits plated six runs. Carter got things started by ripping a two-RBI double off the glove of USC first baseman John Thomas to cut the Cowboys' deficit to 6-3. McCusker followed with a two-RBI double of his own as he smashed a ball to center field to bring the visitor's to within one.
From then on, it was the Battenfield show as he opened the third inning on the mound and hurled a career-high 101 pitches while allowing only two hits.
The Cowboys added an insurance run on a Max Hewitt RBI single in the sixth, then put the game away with a three-run eighth despite not getting a hit in the frame as they took advantage of four walks and a pair of throwing errors by Thomas.
OSU returns to action at 4 p.m Saturday when it takes on No. 2 UCLA at Jackie Robinson Stadium.