By JASON ELMQUIST
STILLWATER — The Comeback Cowboys struck again Tuesday at Allie P. Reynolds.
The No. 26-ranked Oklahoma State University baseball team, which won five come from behind games heading into Tuesday’s contest with Missouri State, came from three runs down to clinch a 5-4 victory in 10 innings over the visiting Bears.
“This team never lets the score dictate their spirit or their effort,” OSU coach Josh Holliday said. “They’ve learned if they play all nine innings, sometimes 10 or 14, with a high level of concentration, that you’re never out of a game. The value of the New Mexico trip to us is that once you’ve done it once, you know you can always do it, and our guys have been able to reach back on that and know we’re never out of a game.”
With Tuesday’s late rally and win in the extra frame, six of Oklahoma State’s eight wins on the season the Cowboys (8-2) have had to fight their way back for the victory.
“We just kind of keep grinding it out — have good energy and good things will happen to you,” said Randy McCurry, who was 2-for-4 at the plate and improved to 2-1 on the mound. “We never quit, never stop trying, and that’s the result of it right there.”
McCurry is the perfect example of grinding it out for OSU. On Sunday, the Cowboys had their seven-game winning streak snapped when McCurry gave up two runs in the ninth to take the loss.
In Tuesday night’s battle with the Bears, McCurry was called upon again late — both on the mound and at the plate. The senior from Tupelo was called in to get two outs in the top of the 10th inning with Missouri State attempting to take the lead with two runners on — dispatching of the batters faced to keep the game tied.
In the bottom half of the frame, McCurry headed to the plate with the bases loaded and just one out. The senior Cowboy took three straight balls before Missouri State pitcher Erik Shannahan worked the count full. McCurry watched the next pitch go bye — for a ball, and the game-winning walkoff walk.
“I was just looking to hit the ball in the air,” McCurry said. “I wanted to get it into the outfield.”
Oklahoma State scored first in the contest. The Cowboys finally broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the third with Zach Fish hitting an RBI single up the middle to plate Tanner Krietemeier, who reached on a double.
Missouri State jumped ahead in the top of the fifth, due to OSU mistakes in the field and on the mound. The Cowboys committed an error and issued four walks in a four-run inning for the Bears.
Starting pitcher Mark Robinette was chased from the mound in the fifth and was replaced by Phil Wilson, who gave up a bases loaded walk to give the Bears the lead before being replaced by Vince Wheeland. Wheeland also walked in a pair of runs with the first two batters he faced before finally getting out of the inning.
The Cowboys had troubles trying to keep up with the Bears despite getting plenty of base runners. OSU stranded two runners in scoring position in each of the first two innings and left 15 runners on base.
“We had some good opportunities early, but I think a result of that is often what a pitcher is able to do and they have good pitching,” Holliday said. “They bared down when the innings got tight. ... But the ability to make adjustments in situational hitting is a growth process that hitters enter into and they have to work through it before it really starts to make sense.”
The Cowboys seemed to find the timely hits late, however, to help put together the rally.
In the bottom of the eighth, Robbie Rea hit a bloop to center that was trapped by the center fielder to give OSU runners on the corners with no outs. Gage Green was walked to load the bases for pinch hitter Aaron Cornell, who took to the plate for Brendan McCurry. Cornell hit a sacrifice fly to plate Romero, and Jarrett Higgins followed with a game-tying sac fly to score Rea and force the extra inning.
Oklahoma State will return to Allie P. Reynolds Stadium this weekend for a three-game series against Loyola Marymount. Friday’s contest is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., with Saturday’s first pitch scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday’s start time has been moved up to noon.
Jason Elmquist is the sports editor at the Stillwater NewsPress