April 20, 2014
STILLWATER, Okla. – Oklahoma State pushed its conference winning streak to seven games Sunday as the 13th-ranked Cowboys completed a series sweep of Kansas with a 6-3 win at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
OSU’s second-straight Big 12 Conference series sweep moved the Cowboys to 11-4 in league play and 29-11 overall. Coach Josh Holliday’s ballclub is a game ahead of second-place TCU (10-5) in the Big 12 standings and two games up on Texas (9-6), who the Pokes face this weekend in Austin, Texas.
The Cowboys used home runs from Tim Arakawa and Dustin Williams to propel them past KU (23-19, 6-9), while Blake Battenfield earned the win on the mound in relief and closer Brendan McCurry set yet another OSU record.
A day after becoming OSU’s career saves leader, McCurry added to his total and notched his record 11th save of the year, setting a single-season record that had previously been held by three others, including his older brother, Randy. His career mark now stands at 19.
“We had a lot of guys do a lot of really good things over the course of three games to earn a sweep — that’s not an easy thing to do,” Holliday said. “I’m really proud of our kids. We pitched excellent, we played very good defense and we found numerous ways to score. That’s the sign of a good team.
“It’s a great effort all around. I’m proud of the kids for showing up with a mentality to go get a sweep rather than just being satisfied with winning a series. They wanted more than that.”
For the 17th time this season, OSU was forced to come from behind to earn a victory.
In the top of the second inning, the Jayhawks took an early lead off OSU starter Tyler Nurdin when Tucker Tharp blasted a two-run home run to left field.
That lead would not last long, however.
In the bottom of the second, KU starter Frank Duncan (4-2) hit Gage Green with a pitch to open the frame, and Zach Fish followed with a double. Up next, Tim Arakawa deposited a Duncan offering over the wall in right field to put the Cowboys on top, 3-2. The homer was the second in as many at bats for Arakawa, who also delivered the go-ahead runs with a round tripper in the eighth inning of Saturday’s game.
Two innings later it was Williams’ turn as the freshman smacked his first-career homer to straightaway center field, a two-run blast that pushed the OSU lead to 5-2.
That was plenty of cushion for the Cowboy bullpen, which continued to dominate opposing offenses.
Battenfield came on in relief of Nurdin in the third and allowed just one run on five hits over the next 3 1/3 innings before yielding to Vince Wheeland.
After Wheeland kept KU off the scoreboard and without a hit over the next 2 1/3 frames — with OSU adding another insurance run on an RBI single by Donnie Walton in the seventh — McCurry came on in the ninth to close it.
The Jayhawks managed to get a pair of baserunners in the inning to bring up the tying run, but McCurry struck out pinch hitter Ryan Pidhaichuk to end the game.
OSU returns to action Tuesday when the Cowboys travel to Tulsa to take on Oral Roberts.