#25 Oklahoma State (27-11) vs. Wichita State (23-18) Tuesday, April 23, 6:30 p.m. Stillwater, Okla. • Allie P. Reynolds Stadium (4,000)
Oklahoma State Oklahoma State takes on regional rival Wichita State in a midweek contest at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. The Cowboys are 27-11 overall after winning three of their last four games. Following Tuesday's game, OSU travels to Omaha, Neb., to take part in the TD Ameritrade Classic, where the Cowboys will take on Rutgers, Nebraska and Creighton. The Cowboys rank third in the Big 12 with a .293 batting average, while their 2.91 team ERA is the fourth lowest in the league. 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 Wichita State Wichita State is 23-18 on the season and has won five of its last seven games. The Shockers are hitting a collective .291 while the pitching staff sports a 3.84 ERA. Expected to start on the mound for WSU is southpaw Kris Gardner, who is 1-5 with a 5.28 ERA in seven starts this season. OSU is 52-32 all time against Wichita State, but the Cowboys have lost four of the last five meetings, three of those on the road, including a 2-1 setback in 11 innings a year ago in Wichita. OSU's last win against the Shockers came in 2011 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.
Baseball In Their Blood Baseball -- and Oklahoma State -- is definitely a family affair for Josh Holliday. Josh's father, Tom, served as an OSU assistant coach for 19 years then took over as the Cowboys' head coach from 1997-2003, leading the program to its last College World Series appearance in 1999. Tom is currently in his seventh season as the associate head coach at North Carolina State Josh's younger brother, Matt, is an outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals. In nine major league seasons, Matt has been named to six All-Star teams. Josh's uncle, Dave Holliday, was an OSU assistant coach from 1981-88 and has since held a variety of roles in Major League Baseball, including his current spot as a professional scout for the Atlanta Braves. Dave's son, Heath, is a senior catcher for the Cowboys this season.
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 833-189 (.815) 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 21-6 at home in 2013.
Grab A Snickers After opening the season at New Mexico, the Cowboys didn't go 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 did 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 -- 12 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. Used mostly as a reliever during his career, McCurry's 70 appearances are tied for fifth on OSU's all-time list, and he is 12-9 with 12 saves and a 2.84 ERA, with his 12 saves ranking fourth in program history. His career offensive numbers include 17 doubles, 48 RBIs and a .289 batting average in 82 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.
Aluminum Assault OSU ranks third in the Big 12 Conference with a .293 team batting average, and five regulars in the lineup are hitting .308 or better. The Cowboys' offense tops the league with 83 doubles while ranking second in walks (155) and on-base percentage (.384).
Wheeland And Dealin' Cowboy junior Vince Wheeland is one of 41 players on the College Baseball Hall of Fame's 2013 Pitcher of the Year Award Watch List. A right-hander, Wheeland is 8-0 with a save in a team-high 20 appearances this season. His eight wins are tied for the most among Big 12 Conference pitchers and rank sixth nationally, and he is fourth in the league with a 1.64 ERA. In 55.0 innings of work, Wheeland has recorded 50 strikeouts, which ranks fifth in the Big 12. He also ranks fifth in the league in opponent batting average at .214.
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 .338 batting average leads the Cowboys and the junior first baseman ranks among the top 10 in the conference in hits (50), runs (29), doubles (11) and RBIs (32). Fish, a sophomore, is hitting .309 and ranks in the top 10 in the Big 12 in home runs (6), doubles (13), RBIs (31), runs (30), total bases (80) and slugging percentage (.526). Want more superlatives from this duo? • Krietemeier has hit safely in 32 of OSU's 38 games this season. • 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. • Krietemeier and Fish each have 14 multi-hit games, the most by any Cowboy. • Krietemeier is hitting .421 (24-for-57) with runners in scoring position. • Fish leads the Cowboys with eight 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.
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, Mark Robinette, Brendan McCurry, Alex Hackerott and Kyle Gehrs. • OSU sports a 2.91 team ERA, which ranks fourth in the Big 12, and nine Cowboy hurlers with at least seven appearances have an ERA of 2.91 or lower. • Vince Wheeland is 8-0 and also has a save. His eight wins are tied for the most in the Big 12 in 2013. • Wheeland's 1.64 ERA ranks fourth in the league, while Tyler Nurdin's 2.38 ERA is seventh. During a five-game stretch earlier this season, Wheeland worked 15.0 innings without allowing a run. • Brendan McCurry is 3-2 with a 1.42 ERA, and his six saves rank fourth in the Big 12. He allowed only one earned run in his 14 first outings (22.2 IP) before giving up three in the ninth in a loss at TCU. • Hackerott has not allowed a run in 13.2 innings. He is 1-0 with 15 strikeouts in 10 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 56 steals and their opponents just 26. Gage Green leads the Cowboys with 11 steals, while Aaron Cornell and Zach Fish have each swiped seven. The last time OSU topped 100 stolen bases in a season was 1999 (117).
Short Hops OSU has been ranked in at least one national poll for eight-straight weeks. The Cowboys peaked at No. 18 in both the USA Today and NCBWA polls on March 25... OSU is hitting .297 with runners in scoring position, while their opponents are at .235... Of OSU's 204 RBIs this season, 78 have come with two outs. Zach Fish leads the Cowboys with 13 two-out RBIs... In Big 12 games, OSU is hitting .272 and has a 2.73 ERA... Saulyer Saxon leads the Cowboys with a .349 batting average in league play, whilel Donnie Walton (.340) and Randy McCurry (.321) are also over .300.