The Cowboys kept the offensive bonfire burning Wednesday night, torching the Arkansas Little-Rock Trojans for eight runs in the bottom of the second inning and coasting to a 12-8 victory.
The first two innings for Oklahoma State defensively went off without a hitch as starting pitcher Justin Ottman struck out four batters in those frames and gave up only one hit. Ottman hung in the game for five innings and netted his first win of the season.
Coach Tom Holliday said he was satisfied with Ottman's performance.
After Ottman struck out three batters in the top of the second, the Cowboy offense exploded. First baseman John Urick led off the inning with a base hit to right field, starting a run that would see 13 at-bats and eight runs scored.
"We hit that guy (Trojans' pitcher Scott Sharpe) hard tonight," Holliday said. "The outs were hit hard. We had guys that couldn't wait to get to the plate -- hitting is contagious."
OSU scored its first three runs on a home run launched over the 402-foot marker in center field by junior leftfielder Scott Kirby who finished with two home runs and four RBI.
"Kirby had a great night tonight; he's a power guy, we knew it when we signed him," Holliday said. "Sometimes those guys will strike out a little bit and you've got to be patient. It's nice to have a seven- holer that can hit it out of the yard and any part of the yard."
The Cowboys continued to outwit Sharpe, loading the bases for third baseman Josh Fields with two outs.
Fields stepped to the plate with an opportunity to all but put the game away early, and equalled the task by smashing a grand slam to left center and upping the Cowboy lead to 7-0.
Urick scored the final run of the inning for the Pokes off a base hit by designated hitter Mario Matulich. Ironically, the inning ended on a ground out by Kirby as he tried to belt another one out of the park.
"That was kind of my downfall I think," Kirby said. "I was going up there trying to drive the ball out of the park again but I just missed the pitch."
The score remained 8-0 for two innings before the Trojan offense finally showed some life. UALR rightfielder Aaron Haefele cut the lead by three runs with his first homer of the season. Ottman was able to salvage the inning, however, allowing only three runs.
By the top of the eighth, the Trojans had closed the gap to four at 9-5 and, with only one out, looked to start a rally. Enter junior reliever Daniel Rew. Rew has been the done-deal for the Cowboys all season, but his fourth save of the season would take a more shakey route.
Rew walked the first batter he faced, allowing one run to score, but was saved from any further harm by an inning ending double play.
In the bottom of the inning, the Cowboys scored three runs on two hits to cushion the lead at 12-6. Holliday said scoring 12 runs says a lot for the offense because of who was on the mound.
"They've got some pretty good arms out there," Holliday said. "That was their starting rotation, that was not a midweek pitching staff. Those kids had good arms and that's a good tough game for the week day."
When Rew came in to put the win in the bank for OSU, he gave up his first earned run of the day, a solo home run by catcher Rick Guarno. Rew gave up a second run with two outs and the lead shortened, 12-8, before the final out of the game was recorded on a fly ball.
"On my part that was unacceptable," Rew said. "That doesn't need to happen again."
Despite a few pitching troubles, Holliday said the offense showed promise for the Cowboys despite their lack of experience.
"We're building around one guy. Virgil's the only guy with tremendous amount of experience in the Big 12 and Division 1," Holliday said. "We talk about Jaramillo and Fields, two guys that played part time last year. Those are the highest guys we have with experience in Division 1 baseball. We're still not done. We're still moving towards it. If we get the eight and nine hole moving we could be pretty good."