Cowboys Clinch Share Of Big 12 Title

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Normally the fact that it's Bedlam is enough of a storyline, but as the sixth-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys and rival Oklahoma started their season ending series in Oklahoma City at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark the stories were OSU and their 10-game winning streak and their drive to win the Big 12 regular season championship.

As for the championship race, the Cowboys got some help in Waco as Baylor beat TCU 6-3 in the first game of those team's three-game set. That left the second place Horned Frogs at 15-7 in conference play and 36-15 overall.

If the Cowboys could take care of their business then they would clinch at least a tie for the Big 12 regular season title, and with the tiebreaker from winning the series with TCU it would guarantee the Cowboys the top seed in the Big 12 Tournament next week back in Bricktown.

Cowboys closer Brendan McCurry had the chance to finish that chore with his school record 16th save of the season as he came on for the ninth inheriting a 4-2 lead.

McCurry made quick work in finishing a quick game as he struck out Hunter Haley, got the next OU hitter on a soft line-out to short, and then finished it with a backhand ground ball back at him to give the Cowboys the 4-2 victory, allowing them to shake hands as Big 12 Champions.

It was a proud moment for second-year head coach Josh Holliday, who was one of the players holding up the Cowboys' last regular season conference championship trophy in 1996 when they played in the Big Eight. It was Gary Ward's last year as head coach and Tom Holliday, Josh's father, as the assistant and soon-to-be-named head coach.

"I'm really proud of these kids," Holliday said. "We knew after the game was over (Baylor had beaten TCU). We went into this game focusing on playing OU and I don't want to pay attention to the static and I don't want them to either.

"I'm proud of my team and not just when they win, but all the time and the way they represent Oklahoma State. I don't want this to be one, I want it to be the first of many. I can remember holding up that trophy in 1996 and I want these guys to enjoy that feeling, but we have two more games in this series."

Oklahoma State got another stellar series opening start from right-hander Jon Perrin. Perrin didn't add to his total of two complete games in conference play but he did go seven and a third innings and left with two runners on but no score on the Oklahoma half of the scoreboard.

"Jon pitched another good game on a Friday night, make that Thursday night," Holliday said. "He has been so much fun to watch develop and he loves to learn about pitching and he does work hard in the weight room and he is a good kid and a fantastic student, lives a good life and does the right things. He's a tough competitor."

"I have good command and I realize if I make good pitches then I know I will get guys out," Perrin said of his style.

Reliable Vince Wheeland came on and with two wild pitches and a walk allowed a runner to score. Then Shelden Neuse hit a lazy fly ball to left for a sacrifice that scored the second OU run to make it 4-2. Perrin left officially allowing two runs on seven hits.

The big blow for the Cowboys came in the fifth inning. Leading 1-0, the big inning started innocently enough with Gage Green's one-out bunt single. Green pushed the bunt perfectly by OU starting pitcher Jacob Evans.

After Donnie Walton struck out, Zach Fish, the Big 12 Player of the Week for his barrage of offense in the sweep last week at Kansas State, singled through the right side of the infield. Conor Costello was next and on a 2-2 pitch he powered it over the wall in left field. It was no cheap home run as you could tell it was going out right off the bat. The three-run home run, Costello's fifth of the season, put the Cowboys up 4-0.

"It felt good, it did," Costello said when asked if he knew the blast was heading out. "I mean..."

"The ball was crushed," Holliday injected.

"I got a good swing off but I thought the wind was going to hold it up, but it didn't," Costello finished.

Oklahoma State had a chance to put it totally away late when the Cowboys loaded the bases in the seventh on OU reliever and fireballer Alec Hansen. The 6-8, 240-pound freshman from Colorado was throwing nothing but fastballs ranging between 94-96 miles per hour.

He couldn't control it as he came in with one out after Evans left having given up the four runs on eight hits. Fish doubled down the right field line and then Hansen walked Costello on four pitches. After Tanner Krietemeier struck out on a 96 mph delivery, Saulyer Saxon pinch hit for Cornell and walked. But OU head coach Pete Hughes brought in Kyle Hayes to get Tim Arakawa looking to end that threat.

After three and a half scoreless innings to start the game the Cowboys got on the scoreboard when Zach Fish singled over the head of Sooners second baseman Kolbey Carpenter. Costello was hit by Evans followed by Tanner Krietemeier's infield single stopped by a diving Hector Lorenzana at shortstop.

The bases were loaded with no outs and Aaron Cornell pushed a sacrifice fly ball to left-center to score Fish on the tag. That was it for the scoring as Arakawa grounded into a fielder's choice and then Craig McConaughy flew out to left to end the threat.

The Cowboys are now a title clinching 17-5 in Big 12 play and they now have 40 wins on the season after winning their 11th in a row. The record overall is 40-13.

Now it is on to Tulsa after a disappointing crowd of 5,478 saw the win in Oklahoma City. The word is that both games in Tulsa are sold out with the exception of standing room or berm seating only left. It kind of punctuates the decision Oklahoma State led the way in with playing two in Tulsa.

"That is great and it is nice to hear that interest and that type of turnout is awaiting us," Holliday added at the close. "That will give us energy and that is why we do the series this way and take it to the people. We want to see the people come out and enjoy it."

They will get their chance to cheer on the Big 12 champion Oklahoma State Cowboys on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. at ONEOK Field.

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