April 20, 2013
STILLWATER - Oklahoma State scored twice in the eighth inning to notch their 12th come-from-behind win of the season Saturday as the 27th-ranked Cowboys knocked off Kansas State, 7-6, in front of a capacity crowd of 4,000 at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
Saturday's outcome clinched the Cowboys' second Big 12 Conference series win of the season as they improved to 7-6 in the league and 27-10 overall.
"It was an awesome day for us," said OSU head coach Josh Holliday. "To look up and see a full crowd, to have energy in the park but most importantly for our team to respond and give our fans an exciting win was big for our team, big for our season and big for our program. That felt to me for the first time like big-time college baseball again.
"I'm proud of everyone that helped contribute to that but most proud of our team living up to the expectations that we're trying to set for ourselves."
Zach Fish's solo home run with two outs in the eighth tied the game at 6-6, and three batters later, Saulyer Saxon delivered a single that brought home what proved to be the winning run.
"We've been resilient the whole year," Saxon said. "It was a 6-2 game in the third (inning), and if you walked in our dugout you couldn't tell what the score was. We just kept competing. We knew our time was going to come around, and eventually it did."
After trailing by four early, the Cowboys turned to relievers Alex Hackerott and Kenton Bevacqua to stabilize things in the middle innings. And the southpaws were able to do just that, with Hackerott retiring a pair of batters and Bevacqua working 3.1 scoreless innings.
Down 6-2 in the fifth, the Cowboys rallied for three runs on a bizarre play to cut into their deficit. With two outs and the bases full, Randy McCurry lined a ball off K-State pitcher Levi MaVorhis' foot for an RBI single. But OSU added two more runs on the play when shortstop Austin Fisher threw the ball into left field and second baseman Ross Kivett was called for interfering with a base runner as the home team pulled to within 6-5.
Three innings later and with OSU down to its last four outs, Fish bashed his team-leading sixth homer of the season, a shot over the wall in left-center field to tie the score.
Up next, Trey Whaley, who was 3-for-4 in the contest, kept the inning going with a double before pinch hitter Corey Hassel walked to put Cowboys on first and second with two outs. That's when Saxon stepped to the plate and delivered an opposite field single through the left side, allowing pinch runner Jarrett Higgins to race home for the go-ahead run.
"I was pretty confident going to the plate," Saxon said. "It was a lefty-lefty matchup, and they were gonna try to pick the outside corner. I was just trying to stay with something, and luckily I got a fastball over the middle and was able to stay with it."
With a one-run lead, OSU's Vince Wheeland retired the Wildcats in order in the ninth to collect his Big 12-best eighth win of the season. Wheeland worked the final 2.2 innings and allowed just one hit to improve to 8-0.
"I'm just trying to do what they need me to do," Wheeland said. "It's just mental preparation, being ready at all times and trusting your team. That's what they need you to do so you just go out there and give it your all. I'm just another guy to count on. Whatever they want and need me to do, I'll go out there and do it."
OSU will look for its first Big 12 series sweep of the season in Sunday's series finale, which is set for a 1:06 p.m. start.