Looking for answers

Cowboy coach Tom Holliday would offer no excuses after Wednesday's loss. He took full responsibility, and the burden of the team lies on the shoulder of its skipper. Can the pitching staff find its shine again in time to take on Mizzou? Will the Pokes rebound from losing a non-conference series at home for the first time in 33 years?

Well after his teammates had gone to the showers Wednesday night, with his hands on his head and resting in his lap, Spencer Grogan sat in the OSU dugout alone, dejected and dissappointed while searching for answers to his team's recent demise.

Oklahoma State coach Tom Holliday lamented in similar fashion, bypassing typical coach speak and taking the blame for the 15-9 loss to Western Carolina solely on his shoulders.

"I take full responsibility; I'm the head coach and I am embarrassed," Holliday said. "I am embarrassed tonight. They embarrassed me and that's my fault. We broke down in every area of the game and I take full credit for that.  I will work my rear end off to try and turn it around here as quick as I can."

The loss for the Cowboys (28-16) marks their fourth straight, and the first time in 33 years they have dropped an entire non-conference series at home.

"This is too good a baseball team to say that ‘you could see this coming,'" Holliday said. "And I'm not gonna sit and say it's because we are tired, and I'm certainly not gonna say it's because we lost the last series to Oklahoma and we can't rebuild our emotions. I won't do any of those, I won't provide that alibi. To me it is a gut-check. I think every season you get a gut-check. Early on we had some problems scoring runs that we could do something about, through hard work. Right now, we aren't pitching very good at all and we are trying to correct that through hard work."

The actual game, much less important than its massive undertones, began solid for the Pokes as starter Spencer Grogan battled four innings and held the Catamounts (31-14) to two runs.

"I really thought Spencer looked good tonight," Holliday said. "I thought Spencer looked a lot better than he has; he was quicker in his body, you know, and he felt good in his outing tonight and that's important."

From then on, however, the pitching staff melted down, allowing 13 runs in the final five innings while the offense couldn't come up with enough to get the job done.

"They just hit the ball; we just put ourselves in bad positions in the count, stuff like that, and put it in the hitters favor," Grogan said. "They'd hit in places, they'd bloop in hits, the big hits. And we'd hit rockets, but just right to people. They just played us perfect."

With Holliday's job on shaky ground this season, losses like these can be emotionally taxing on all involved.

"I am sure right now there are a lot of people walking around shaking their heads saying, ‘What's going on here; what's wrong with them?'" Holliday said gazing toward the stands with his hand covering his mouth. "All I can tell you is we still need you out there, we still need crowds, we need support. We are down, there is no question. We're down and bleeding."

Immediately following the loss, the Cowboys spent nearly 20 minutes huddled in right field discussing the loss and the remainder of the season.

"We have a major obstacle sitting in front of us," Holliday said. "Again, you can alibi it, or you can push that aside and get ready to play Missouri Friday night. As far as I'm concerned right now, we have a lot of things we have to right, a lot of things that need to be righted. We'll do as much as we can as coaches in a very short period of time and I think there is a responsibility level that has to be checked."

OSU had four errors in the game, two by shortstop Chris Gutierrez, and on by leftfielder Scott Kirby while fielding a near-routine fly ball.

"I am not going to turn to excuses, we have to shake it," Holliday said. "Something gets around your neck, you get rid of it. You gotta do it by playing nine innings of good baseball. Right now we are having hard time finding nine innings."

The Catamounts, however, put eighteen powerful innings together against OSU scoring 27 runs in two games to put the Pokes in the toughest situation of their year.

"You gonna say ‘Shame on me for bringing them in here, for beating us?' No, by this time of the year I would hope we would be able to come off OU and get focused on somebody good like that, get our mind off OU get our mind on Missouri," Holliday said. "I think it did it. If we didn't have our mind on Western Carolina after last night, I'd think we were brain-dead."

Distraught from the Cowboys' past four performances dating back to Saturday's loss to Oklahoma in Bricktown Ballpark, Holliday managed to show some resolve and reveal the psyche of his battered club.

"We have to turn this place into our house," Holliday said. "We can't let people walk in here and embarrass us. Some of my guys are embarrassed, and they have to get rid of that feeling. They are amateurs; they are young. You have 40 games in and you'd like to say there is no longer an excuse, and I whole-heartedly agree with that. Normally by this time of the season I don't refer to people whether they are freshmen or not."

OSU has to rebound against Missouri this weekend to save its season, and it starts Friday with pitching ace Scott Baker.

"Our No. 1 guy has got to continue the example and it's gotta spread," Holliday said. The pitching staff has to pick up on it cause that is where we need our lift."

Well after the game concluded, and Holliday had finished his postgame interviews, the forlorn coach, unaware of his family around him, simply stared toward the outfield, his left hand clutching his chin in deep thought, contemplating what had just transpired and no doubt wondering about the future.

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