Oklahoma State Fresh off a 24-game homestand, Oklahoma State takes to the road for the first time since the season opening weekend in mid-February when the 19th-ranked Cowboys travel to Lawrence for a three-game series with Kansas. OSU is 21-6 overall, and after winning the final two games of their series with Texas last weekend, the Cowboys are in second place in the Big 12 Conference standings with a 3-2 mark. The Cowboys rank third in the Big 12 in both team batting average (.295) and team ERA (2.94). OSU, which entered the 2013 season as the eighth winningest program in NCAA history with a .664 winning percentage, in its 102nd season of baseball and the program's first under head coach Josh Holliday, a former star for the Cowboys in the 1990s. The Cowboys are coming off a 2012 season in which they finished 32-25 overall, which included coming in fifth in the Big 12 Conference standings with a 13-11 mark. A pair of All-Big 12 performers in Robbie Rea and Randy McCurry lead a group of 15 returning letterwinners from 2012, while 19 newcomers round out the OSU roster. OSU was picked by league coaches to finish fifth in the Big 12 race. Oklahoma was tabbed as the favorite.
About Kansas Kansas is 16-11 on the season and in a three-way tie for fourth place in the Big 12 standings with a 3-3 mark. Led by Michael Suiter (.367, 12 RBI), the Jayhawks are hitting .288, while the pitching staff sports a 3.32 ERA. Expected to start on the mound for the Jayhawks this weekend are: Friday - RHP Thomas Taylor (2-0, 1.29) Saturday - RHP Frank Duncan (2-3, 4.67) Sunday - LHP Wes Benjamin (2-3, 5.92) OSU is 131-47 all time against Kansas. The Cowboys swept KU last season in Stillwater.
Watch, Listen, Follow All OSU baseball games are carried live by Stillwater Radio and will air on KSPI 93.7 FM or 780 AM. Rex Holt, who is in his 31st season with Cowboy baseball, will call the action, with Matt "Chief" Davis providing color commentary. GameTracker live stats for all games can be found at www.okstate.com. Additionally, live online video and audio for all home games not televised can be accessed via okstate.com (a fee is involved with this service). Video/audio/live stats links are all available on the OSU baseball page under Schedule.
Winning The goal of college baseball coaches and players is to make it to the College World Series in Omaha, and the OSU coaching staff has plenty of experience in that regard. The Cowboys' staff of Josh Holliday, Rob Walton and Marty Lees has combined to make 12 CWS appearances as either a player or coach. Holliday played on a pair of CWS teams at OSU (1996 & 1999) and has coached in the CWS as an assistant at Georgia Tech (2006), Arizona State (2009) and Vanderbilt (2011). Walton spent four seasons as a pitcher at OSU from 1983-86, and each of those Cowboy teams appeared in the CWS. As an assistant coach at Oregon State, Lees helped lead the Beavers to Omaha three-straight years from 2005-07, with two of those trips resulting in national championships (2006 & 2007).
R-E-S-P-E-C-T In January, despite his having not yet coached a game, Baseball America named OSU's Josh Holliday the nation's top college head coach under the age of 40. The top 10 list was compiled based on the voting of coaches and scouts. In addition, Marty Lees came in at No. 6 on Baseball America's list of the nation's top 10 college assistant coaches. That list was compiled from the votes of 70 Division I head coaches across the country, as well as the input of more than a dozen scouts. Coaches with prior D-I head coaching experience, such as OSU pitching coach Rob Walton, were excluded from the list.
Home Sweet Home Allie P. Reynolds Stadium has been home to Oklahoma State baseball since 1981, and in those 32 seasons the Cowboys have been nearly unbeatable on their home field. OSU is 831-188 (.816) all time at Reynolds Stadium and has lost more than two consecutive games on their home turf only four times (six in a row in 2007; three straight in 2010, 2012 and 2013). The Cowboys are 19-5 at home in 2013.
Grab A Snickers After opening the season at New Mexico, the Cowboys haven't been anywhere for a while. On Feb. 19, OSU opened a 26-game homestand -- which finished at 24 after two cancellations -- at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium, and the Cowboys will not return to the road until the April 5 contest at Kansas. In April and May, OSU will play just seven games on its home field.
Comeback Cowboys & A Little Bit Of Irony In the second game of the New Mexico series, OSU faced an eight-run deficit after seven innings. Trailing 14-6, the Cowboys rallied for four runs in the eighth and ninth to force extra innings and then won the game with a run in the 13th. The eight-run deficit marked the largest OSU had overcome to win a game since April 6, 1997, when the Cowboys trailed Texas, 11-0, after 4 1/2 innings in Stillwater before rallying for, ironically, a 15-14 win. Josh Holliday was also a part of that game, playing catcher and third base for the Cowboys and going 1-for-4. Coming from behind has continued to be a trend for the Cowboys -- nine of OSU's wins this season have come in games in which it has trailed.
It's A Walk Off The Cowboys have picked up three walk-off wins this season, all coming within the same week. Two of the victories came in the 10th inning. The first came against Missouri State when Randy McCurry drew a bases-loaded walk in the 10th to bring home the winning run. In its series win over Loyola Marymount, OSU had two walk-off wins. In the opener, Tanner Krietemeier delivered a 10th-inning, walk-off home run, and in the series finale, it was a single by Zach Fish that plated the deciding run with two outs in the ninth.
Two-Way Talent Randy McCurry has proven to be valuable with his arm and his bat during his time in Stillwater and earned All-Big 12 Second Team honors as a utility player a year ago. Now a fifth-year senior, McCurry is continuing that trend in 2013. McCurry was used mostly as a starter on the mound last season, with 12 of his 15 appearances coming in a starting role, but he has been used mainly in relief in 2013 (one start in six outings). In 68 career appearances, which is tied for seventh on OSU's all-time list, he is 12-9 with 12 saves and a 2.79 ERA, with his 12 saves ranking fourth in program history. Offensively, McCurry sports career numbers of five home runs and 42 RBIs to go along with a .280 batting average in 72 games. After taking over the Cowboys' DH role late last season, he hit .342 in 10 conference games. McCurry is three years removed from Tommy John surgery after he suffered a season-ending elbow injury in OSU's 2010 season opener. As a freshman in 2009, he tied OSU's single-season record with 10 saves. In a team-high 28 appearances, he was also 4-1 with a team-best 2.16 ERA and 54 Ks in 41.2 innings.
Back On The Bump Two years ago, Jason Hursh was a highly touted freshman for the Cowboys, coming to Stillwater after a standout prep career that culminated with him being a sixth-round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft. In his first collegiate season, the hard-throwing right-hander made 10 appearances, including four starts, and was 1-1 with a 2.73 ERA. But the native Texan was forced to miss the 2012 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Following the successful procedure, Hursh is back for his redshirt sophomore season in 2013 and proving to be one of the aces of the Cowboys' staff. With a fastball in the mid- to upper 90s in his repertoire, Hursh is listed by Baseball America as fourth-best prospect in the Big 12 for the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft. In seven starts this season, Hursh is 3-1 with a 2.12 ERA and two complete games, and he has 40 strikeouts in 51 innings. During a four-game stretch earlier this season, he tossed 17.2 scoreless innings.
Aluminum Assault OSU ranks third in the Big 12 Conference with a .295 team batting average, and the Cowboys' offense tops the league with 60 doubles while ranking second in on-base percentage (.386) and slugging percentage (.431). Additionally, five regulars in the Cowboys' lineup are hitting .304 or better.
Dynamic Duo A big reason for the Cowboys' huge offensive numbers is the production of a two-headed monster in the middle of the lineup in the form of Tanner Krietemeier and Zach Fish. Krietemeier's .368 batting average leads the Cowboys and ranks sixth in the Big 12, and the junior first baseman also ranks among the top 10 in the conference in hits (39), runs (23), homers (3), RBIs (24), total bases (56) and slugging percentage (.565). Fish, a sophomore, is hitting .333 and ranks in the top 10 in the Big 12 in hits (36), runs (23), home runs (5), doubles (10), RBIs (27), total bases (63) and slugging percentage (.583). Want more superlatives from this duo? Krietemeier had an 18-game hitting streak snapped in the second game of the Texas series. The streak was the longest by an OSU player since 2008 (Rebel Ridling, 20). During the streak, he hit .361 (26-for-72) with three homers, five doubles, 16 RBIs and a .583 slugging percentage. Both players have 11 multi-hit games this season, the most by any Cowboy. Fish leads the Cowboys with seven multi-RBI games and has collected four RBIs in a game twice. Fish was named the Big 12 Player of the Week (March 18) and NCBWA National Hitter of the Week (March 19) after hitting .600 (12-for-20) with eight RBIs in five games during the week of March 11-17. Krietemeier is hitting .429 (18-for-42) with runners in scoring position; Fish is 15-for-42 (.357).
Strong-Armed OSU has also been impressive on the mound in 2013, led by veterans Randy McCurry and Vince Wheeland along with newcomers Tyler Nurdin, Brendan McCurry, Alex Hackerott and Kyle Gehrs. OSU sports a 2.94 team ERA, which ranks third in the Big 12, and 10 Cowboy hurlers with at least four appearances have an ERA of 3.47 or lower. Vince Wheeland is 6-0, with his six wins tied for the most in the league and the third most nationally. Wheeland's 2.01 ERA ranks sixth in the league, while Jason Hursh's 2.12 ERA is seventh. During a five-game stretch earlier this season, Wheeland worked 15.0 innings without allowing a run, while Hursh had a scoreless innings streak of 17.2 over four games. Brendan McCurry is 3-1 with a 0.46 ERA, and his four saves rank third in the Big 12. He has allowed only one earned run in 12 outings (19.2 IP). Hackerott has not allowed a run in 10.1 innings. He is 1-0 with 11 strikeouts in seven appearances.
Thievery A year ago, OSU's opponents stole over twice as many bases (77) as the Cowboys (38). Things are quite different in 2013 as the Cowboys have already racked up 43 steals and their opponents just 20. Gage Green leads the Cowboys with nine steals, while Aaron Cornell has swiped seven. The last time OSU topped 100 stolen bases in a season was 1999 (117).
Short Hops OSU is ranked as high as No. 19 this week and has now been in at least two national polls for five-straight weeks. The Cowboys' highest ranking came last week when they checked in at No. 18 in both the USA Today and NCBWA polls... The Cowboys are hitting .312 (99-for-317) with runners in scoring position, while their opponents are at .232 (57-for-246)... Of OSU's 159 RBIs this season, 60 have come with two outs. Zach Fish leads the Cowboys with 11 two-out RBIs.