Feb. 21, 2014
STILLWATER, Okla. – Dominant relief pitching and timely hitting lifted 18th-ranked Oklahoma State to a 3-2 win over Oakland Friday at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
With the win, OSU is off to its best start since 2008. That year’s club also started the season with six consecutive wins.
“We showed an instinct to win, and I’ve been in many of those ballgames where a team doesn’t find a way to win; our kids did,” said OSU head coach Josh Holliday. “You have to be able to respond whether you’re on the good side of the scoreboard or the negative side. You’ve got to stay calm, you’ve got to win pitches and you’ve got to trust what you do and know that it’s a nine-inning game.
“It’s a lesson to be learned about playing all nine innings. It’s a challenge mentally sometimes, but we’ve got some veteran players who showed up big.”
Playing its season opener, Oakland took an early lead after collecting three hits in its first at bat, with the third of those an RBI single by Brett Impemba to put the Golden Grizzlies up, 1-0.
OSU quickly erased the deficit in the bottom of the first, however, when Tanner Krietemeier delivered a solo home run over the wall in left field. The blast was the senior’s fourth of the year after homering just four times in 60 games a year ago.
In the third inning, OSU starter Mark Robinette surrendered back-to-back, one-out singles, ending his day on the mound. Perrin came out of the Cowboys’ bullpen, and after getting a fly out, gave up an RBI single that put Oakland up, 2-1.
But with the bases loaded, OSU escaped further damage when Corey Hassel made a diving catch in center field to end the inning.
Following Hassel’s highlight-reel catch, one of two the sophomore had in the game, Perrin got into a groove as he tied a career high with five strikeouts and did not allow another hit in five innings of work.
Perrin’s effort paid off when the OSU offense finally came around in the decisive seventh inning.
Oakland starter Jason Hager allowed only one run four hits in the first six frames, but he was relieved by Kendall Colvin to start the seventh. Colvin promptly walked pinch hitter Saulyer Saxon, and following a sacrifice bunt by Bryan Case, Tim Arakawa stepped to the plate and delivered an opposite-field single to left to bring Saxon home and tie the score at 2-2.
“I was just trying to get a strike, trying to drive something and stay on top of it,” Arakawa said. “Saulyer (Saxon) did a good job of coming off the bench and getting that leadoff walk, and (Bryan) Case did a good job putting the bunt down and getting us in scoring position. I got a strike and put a good swing on it, and it worked out well.”
Arakawa, who advanced to second on the throw home by the Oakland left fielder, then stole third to set the stage for Donnie Walton’s sacrifice fly, an RBI that proved to be the game winner.
“When we’re down, we’re not panicking,” Arakawa said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that can come through when the game is on the line. We just fought the whole game — nobody pressed the panic button. Finally, we got our chances and when our chances came we capitalized on them.”
Over the final two innings, Perrin, Alex Hackerott and McCurry slammed the door on the Grizzlies. McCurry recorded the final four outs to notch his 11th-career save, which is tied for fifth in school history and is just six shy of Jordy Mercer’s career record.
The two teams return to action Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m.