By JASON ELMQUIST
OKLAHOMA CITY — Injuries are common place in sports. No matter how much conditioning and precaution is taken, it’s going to happen — in any sport, at all levels.
In baseball, which differs from most sports seeing as somebody is typically throwing a ball at you sometimes upwards of 100 mph, that’s sometimes more the case.
Fortunately for Oklahoma State, when injuries hit this weekend with one of the biggest series of the season on line — Bedlam — the depth of the Cowboys under first-year coach Josh Holliday were able to pick up the pieces.
“We’re only as strong as the guys on the team that are supporting and providing that type of energy off the bench,” Holliday said following Sunday’s 5-4 loss.
In each of the three games against Oklahoma, OSU got support from players that would be considered more of a supporting cast. On Friday, it was Gage Green filling in for injured catcher Victor Romero — and then coming up clutch again on Saturday with a steal of home that still had people talking on Sunday’s finale at Bricktown Ballpark.
One of Oklahoma State’s key cogs fought through an early injury during Saturday’s game but had to be supplanted in Sunday’s lineup.
Senior shortstop Randy McCurry had played in all but two games before sitting out Sunday — an injury that stemmed from getting hit by a 90-plus mph fastball from Oklahoma pitcher Jonathan Gray. The trainers worked on his shoulder in the OSU dugout throughout Saturday’s game, which he played out, but he ultimately couldn’t go on Sunday.
“I don’t know too many people who could handle that,” said Craig McConaughy, McCurry’s replacement Sunday. “I was pretty impressed with Randy sticking it out the rest of that game. He’s a tough player, that’s for sure.”
In his absence, McConaughy came through with the first big moment of the series finale with a two-out, two-run single to center in the second inning — out of the nine hole in the lineup.
“Craig coming in there today, I see that every day in groundball work and see it every day in the cages,” OSU senior third baseman Robbie Rea said. “It’s just good to see him get out there and get his turn.”
Unfortunately, McConaughy was also responsible for what proved to be the game-deciding inning for the Sooners — misfiring on a throw to first in the sixth that eventually led to two unearned OU runs in the 5-4 victory as the Sooners avoided the sweep.
But his accomplishment at the plate, and his play leading up to that moment — and the play of other role players — is what fans should take from this weekend series. The best Oklahoma State can finish in the Big 12 Conference standings in second with West Virginia coming to town Thursday for the season finale, but with the Big 12 championship a week later back down in Bricktown, there should be plenty of confidence with this group of Cowboys.