OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – As usual, Oklahoma State will play in regionals. How the Cowboys earned the spot this time was far from typical.
Ryan Cash had four hits, and Oklahoma State became the first No. 8 seed to win the Big 12 Tournament with a 6-5 victory over Texas on Sunday.
“I think we came out here enjoying the moment and living in the moment,” Cash said. “It was an unbelievable day out on the field, and I think it really helped having such a positive mindset coming in.”
Oklahoma State reached regional play for the fifth straight year under coach Josh Holliday, but just getting to the Big 12 Tournament was a chore this year. The Cowboys (30-25) had to win their final two regular-season games against Oklahoma just to qualify. They made it, then won all four games in Oklahoma City to earn the automatic regional berth .
“We learned a big lesson on how to turn something around that isn’t going your way,” Holliday said. “That was a big lesson learned. These kids took the initiative to continue to fight instead of rolling over and dying. These guys did OSU baseball a good service.”
Bryce Fischer had three hits, including a solo homer, and Garrett McCain had three hits and knocked in three runs to help Holliday earn his 200th career win.
McCain was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. He said he was glad the Cowboys finally had the turn for the better Holliday said the team was capable of producing.
“There were moments where we showed glimpses that we could play this style of baseball, and it was almost like we would go to sleep and forget what we had just done,” he said.
They figured it out just in time. Blake Battenfield (5-4) got the win for 1 1/3 innings of work in relief of starter C.J. Varela as Oklahoma State won its second Big 12 Tournament title — the Cowboys also won in 2004.
Connor Mayes (1-2) took the loss for No. 6 seed Texas (37-22). He gave up three runs in one-third of an inning.
Kacy Clemens and Bret Boswell each had three hits for the Longhorns. Texas had won its first five title-game appearances.
The game was played at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, about an hour’s drive from Oklahoma State’s campus in Stillwater. Its fans turned it into a virtual home game.
The Longhorns led 3-1 when they pulled starter Morgan Cooper after three solid innings. The first-team All-Big 12 pitcher allowed one run and three hits and struck out five before he was replaced.
“We had some great efforts out of the bullpen and played solid defense for the most part,” Texas coach David Pierce said. “Sure, we struggled a little bit, but I’m very proud of our team.”
Oklahoma State took advantage of the pitching change in the fourth. Cash singled with the bases loaded to knock in two runs and tie the game at 3, then McCain’s single knocked in Cameron Dobbs to give Oklahoma State its first lead.
The Cowboys added a run in the sixth when McCain doubled to score Cash, and Fischer’s blast in the seventh made it 6-3.
Texas scored twice in the bottom of the seventh to trim Oklahoma State’s lead to 6-5, but Carson Teel pitched two scoreless innings to earn the save.
Pierce said Holliday deserved credit for giving his team confidence.
“What they had to do to come through this tournament is really commendable,” Pierce said. “I thought he had his team well prepared and they played well the entire weekend.”
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