Cowboys Steal Home To Clinch Bedlam Series

Gage Green

OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma threw ace Jonathan Gray on Saturday in hopes of ending the Sooners three-game conference losing streak. But someone forgot to tell Oklahoma State how dominant Gray was supposed to be as the 19th-ranked Cowboys used Gage Green's steal of home in the eighth inning for a 4-3 victory over the 15th-ranked Sooners at Bricktown Ballpark.

Oklahoma State looked like it had earned solid insurance in the top of the eighth as they pushed their advantage back to two runs at 4-2 when Gage Green opened the inning with a hard hit line drive in the right-center gap and OU centerfielder Craig Akin inadvertently kicked the ball into right field where rightfielder Max White ended up with it. The official scorer ruled it a double and an error.

The Cowboys could not move Green, so with two outs and Saulyer Saxon up and an 0-2 count the call came for Green to steal home. The speedy Green took off and OU closer Jacob Evans was so un-nerved that he threw the pitch over catcher Anthony Hermelyn's head and Green slid in safely for the 4-2 lead.

"That's a play that when you pull it off people think you're smart and when you don't they think you're an idiot," said Cowboys head coach Josh Holliday of the steal of home plate. " It was the right play at the right time with the right player at third (Green) and they had a freshman on the mound."

Even at that OU added a run in the bottom of the eighth to make it a one run game again at 4-3.

Oklahoma State closer Brandon McCurry had to come on early and even though he gave up that run in the eighth he was a force in the ninth, pitching very effective with a strike out and two fly ball outs to finish the game.

Oklahoma State now passes Oklahoma in the Big 12 standings, moving into third place with an 11-8 conference record. The Cowboys now trail only Kansas State and West Virginia. The Cowboys are now 36-12 and that RPI is surging.

The Cowboys hitters started working on the high MLB Draft prospect Gray in the top of the second when shortstop Randy McCurry was hit in the shoulder to lead off the inning. Catcher Victor Romero, who sat out the Friday win in Tulsa with a broken finger on his catching (left) hand, came through with a line drive double to the right-center gap to score McCurry.

After Zach Fish and Green both struck out, Robbie Rea tripled down the right field line and while the ball rattled around in the corner of the Bricktown Ballpark, Romero scored easily to make it 2-0 Cowboys.

The Cowboys threatened again in both the third and fourth innings with base runners and situations that Gray had to pitch out of before putting up another run in the fifth, this time with two outs.

Freshman second baseman Donnie Walton singled to right field to get the rally started. Tanner Krietemeier singled up the middle to move Walton to second and then Randy McCurry collected the RBI with a line drive single beyond the reach of OU shortstop Jack Mayfield going to toward the middle of the diamond.

Oklahoma State led 3-0 and for Gray, his velocity slowing down according to the scoreboard, was done for the afternoon after five frames.

"We stayed true to ourselves and we were going against maybe the best amateur pitcher in the world today," added Holliday. "He's a big kid that throws 100 miles an hour and it was quite a task.

"We wanted to be aggressive and take away one pitch from him and that was the fastball and then ignore the others and that was easier said than done. It was a gritty effort. I thought we hit some of those fastballs and that surprised him," said Holliday.

Like they did on Friday night, Oklahoma chopped into the Cowboys lead. In the bottom of the sixth Cowboys starter Tyler Nurdin allowed OU to load the bases. With one out for the Sooners, Nurdin got a huge strike out as he fanned OU's leading hitter Matt Oberste.

Cowboys pitching coach Rob Walton came out and relieved Nurdin with bullpen standout Vince Wheeland. Hector Lorenzana, who had a three-run homer the night before in Tulsa, greeted Wheeland with a single to left field that scored two of the OU runners to make it 3-2 Oklahoma State.

Nurdin did earn the win and is now 3-2 on the season and pitching really well. The Cowboys other unsung starter on the mound and this week's Big 12 Pitcher of the Week after his complete game shutout of Texas Tech last week gets the final crack at the OU hitters in the series finale at 1 p.m. at the Bricktown Ballpark.

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