Tahlequah Daily Press

College Sports

May 22, 2014

Oklahoma State blows out Sooners in Big 12 tournament opener

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma State baseball team entered Wednesday’s Big 12 opener looking to break a streak — a seven-game Big 12 tournament losing streak. Zach Fish drove in six runs to power the Cowboys to a 13-4 victory over the Oklahoma Sooners.

“It was a particularly challenging game against what I think is the best eighth seed in the country,” OSU coach Josh Holliday said. “... The key for us was Tyler (Nurdin) settling in and giving us 4 2/3 innings like he did.”

Fish drove in a run by being hit by a pitch and singled home a run. His biggest blast came in the bottom of the sixth when he hit a grand slam to left field, with the ball hitting the back wall.

“I went in the cage with coach Holliday and got on the right page,” Fish said. “The guys ahead of me did a great job of getting on base all day. They allowed me to have big moments. They had great at bats and grounded all day.”

Though the game ended up being a rout, the Sooners (28-28) jumped out early. After a leadoff single by Craig Aikin and a sacrifice bunt by Hector Lorenzana, Sheldon Neuse hit a single up to the middle to score Aikin. With two outs and two on, Anthony Heremlyn lined an RBI single to center. Hunter Haley hit a hard ground ball that OSU’s first baseman Tanner Krietemeier couldn’t bring in and Austin O’Brien scored to put OU ahead 3-0.

“We did exactly what we wanted to do. We wanted to jump out and set the tone and get momentum in our dugout,” OU coach Pete Hughes said.

It didn’t last long.

The Cowboys (42-14) made it a short afternoon for Oklahoma’s starter Jake Elliott. The first five Oklahoma State batters reached. Gage Green singled to right field to score Saulyer Saxon and Fish was hit by a pitch to bring home Donnie Walton. Elliott was pulled after Tim Arakawa lined out to second. Jeffrey Curran, who earned a four-inning save in Saturday’s win came in and continued to be on a roll as he retired the next 10 batters.

After a shaky start, Nurdin was able to settle in as he pitched three scoreless innings before being pulled with two outs in the fifth inning. In a no-decision, he gave up three runs on seven hits, walked four and struck out two. Wheeland came in with the bases loaded and got Kolbey Carpenter to strike out looking to end the Sooners’ threat. The Cowboys senior pitched 4 1/3 innings and allowed one run on a passed ball, four hits, two walks and struck out four to improve to 9-0. Holliday said Wheeland helped him save pitchers for the rest of the tournament.

“When we were able to wrestle the lead back, we had the right guy in the game,” Holliday said. “... We had the right guy in there to hold them down. We had to make sure they didn’t make a run at us. They got runners on base in the seventh and eighth inning and were one swing of the bat away from putting us back on our heels.”

Green said coming back and scoring runs in the bottom of the first helped calm Nurdin down.

“They got a couple of runs on him,” Green said. “We were able to come back and get the bases loaded and score some runs. He comes out there and closes it down. Every outing, he gets better and better. It’s good to see the old Tyler Nurdin coming back.”

Oklahoma State got to Curran in the fifth inning as the first five batters reached. Fish tied the game with his second RBI on a single. Arakawa lined a single into center to give OSU the lead and ended Curran’s day. Craig McConaughy expanded the lead with a two-out single that scored Green.

“We had a feeling of what they were doing on certain counts,” Green said. “Coach Holliday and the other coaches do a good job of paying attention to that stuff. We were able to get a big inning on him and they took him out.”

The Cowboys continued to attack OU pitching in the sixth inning, mostly with Fish’s slam. OSU also scored on a bases loaded walk by Saxon and Conor Costello scored on a wild pitch. Robert Tasin took on most of the damage in the inning and finished the game with giving up five runs in 1 1/3 innings.

Oklahoma State will Texas, an 8-3 winner over Texas Tech in the late game Wednesday, at 7:30 p.m. today. Oklahoma will take on Tech at 12:30 p.m. today.

CNHI-Norman’s John Shinn contributed to this story.

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