April 27, 2014
AUSTIN, Texas – Oklahoma State recorded its fifth-straight Big 12 Conference series win with an 8-3 triumph over 10th-ranked Texas in Sunday’s series finale at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
With the win, the No. 9 Cowboys improved to 31-13 overall and maintained their first-place standing in the Big 12 at 13-5. With two series remaining, OSU owns a 1 ½ game lead in the conference standings.
OSU’s five consecutive league series wins are its most since the 2008 Cowboys won six in a row. Coach Josh Holliday’s ballclub is one of just four in school history to win at least five-straight Big 12 series since the conference’s inaugural season in 1996 (1997, 2006 and 2008).
“It was a tremendous challenge for us after Friday night (loss) to bounce back against an outstanding team loaded with pitching and a talented lineup with speed and power,” Holliday said. “We took the first one on the chin and jumped back up the last two days and really showed a tremendous amount of character, skill and desire to compete. When you see that out of your players and see the job your coaches do of preparing and having a game plan, it’s very rewarding.”
In Sunday’s finale, Craig McConaughy continued his hot hitting, leading the Cowboys with a 3-for-4 day at the plate that included a career-high three RBIs.
On the mound, Vince Wheeland made only his second start of the season and picked up the win with a pre-determined three-inning effort to improve to 5-0. The senior right-hander was one of four pitchers used by the Cowboys on the day.
“We went the unconventional route of starting (Wheeland), knowing he would be good for 40 pitches, and he stabilized the game,” Holliday said.
McConaughy gave the Cowboys a lead they would never surrender with a memorable first at bat in the second inning. With a runner on second, the senior playing in his hometown crushed his first-career home run into the bullpen in left field, a blast that came in his 112th career at bat and put OSU on top, 2-0. It marked just the second homer by a UT opponent at Disch-Falk Field this season.
“I think that’s the first ball I’ve ever seen (McConaughy) hit over the fence, let alone a home run in a game – I’ve never seen him hit one out in batting practice,” Holliday said. “For an Austin kid to walk into a ballpark where you probably watched games as a kid and to hit a home run, get three hits, play great defense, and there’s not a more team-oriented, genuine giver of his energy and desire to play than Craig. Our kids were so jacked for him after that home run.”
Texas (32-13, 10-8) cut its deficit in half in the bottom of the inning, getting their lone run off Wheeland on a solo home run by Tres Barrera to make the score 2-1.
The fourth inning proved to be the pivotal one for the Cowboys.
UT starter Nathan Thornhill entered the game leading the Big 12 in ERA at 0.97, having allowed just seven runs in 64 2/3 innings in 13 appearances. But the Cowboys would knock him from the game with a five-run rally in the fourth.
Following a leadoff walk to Gage Green, Zach Fish stepped to the plate and delivered OSU’s second two-run homer of the game. Fish’s team-leading eighth bomb gave the Cowboys a 4-1 advantage, but they weren’t done yet.
Tim Arakawa followed Fish with a single and stole second base, and McConaughy delivered his third RBI of the game with a single. Up next, it was Brian Case’s turn as he drove in a run with his first hit since Feb. 27, an RBI single that made the score 6-1.
The final run in the frame came compliments of Tanner Krietemeier on a fielder’s choice RBI as OSU took a 7-1 advantage after 3 ½ innings.
With the comfortable lead, the OSU bullpen combination of Blake Battenfield, Alex Hackerott and Brendan McCurry held the Longhorns to just two runs – only one of them earned – over the final six innings to seal the win for the Cowboys.
Along with McConaughy, Fish and Arakawa each had multiple hits in the contest, with both collecting two.
OSU returns to action Wednesday night when the Cowboys travel to Wichita, Kan., to take on Wichita State.