Cowboys, Krietemeier To Play In Title Game

OKLAHOMA CITY - It's been awhile since I've seen sideways rain, but that was part of the treat of the Big 12 Baseball Tournament on Saturday night. Before the rain Oklahoma State delivered some gritty clutch baseball to beat Texas 3-1 in the first championship/elimination game in bracket one. Earlier Saturday morning, TCU took care of business in bracket two and sent Baylor packing with a 4-1 win.

That allowed the Horned Frogs to stay out of the sun all afternoon and the rain all late afternoon and evening. The marathon day of baseball was worth it as the Cowboys best Texas twice 3-1 and 6-4 in the long nightcap.

There had to be some fireworks to end it and it came in the form of an error in center field by Saulyer Saxon in the bottom of the ninth. With Tres Barerra on first, Madison Carter hit a fly ball deep to left center that Saxon caught up to but couldn't keep in his glove.

In the confusion Barerra decided to bolt toward third and left fielder Gage Green picked up the ball, threw to shortstop Donnie Walton, whose relay to Craig McConaughy at third was in time to get the Longhorn out, a key out. Still Robinette had to get those last two outs and the last one with runners at second and third.

The Cowboys decisive rally came in the top of the eighth inning when Saulyer Saxon led off with a walk, Aaron Cornell was hit by Texas pitcher Parker French while attempting a sacrifice bunt. Donnie Walton got the sac bunt down to move the runners over, and Gage Green was intentionally walked to load the bases.

The table set, Tanner Krietemeier got a pep talk from head coach Josh Holliday and then singled to right center to score Saxon and Cornell.

"I just went out there and reminded him that (French) had a sinker and that he wanted to get a ball he could get under and not hit on top of it," Holliday said. "Tanner hit it hard into the ground."

"I was just trying to get a pitch I could handle and do everything I could to get them home," Krietemeier said.

A Costello sac fly scored Green, and for Costello that was his third RBI of the contest. The Cowboys had the late inning lead they crave 6-3.

"To go 18 innings against a team of that quality and with their pitchers... I think they are an excellent team and they are a tough program to line up with, much less beat twice in one day," Holliday said.

"I think the story is these kids and their amazing ability to compete. Every excuse that anyone could pull up does not exist for these kids. That is special to be a part of and to see kids like Mark (Robinette) step up and do what he did, and tomorrow somebody else is going to have to do it."

"The games were pretty much identical and they used the eighth innings to put their rallies together," Texas head coach Augie Garrido said. "I think it was a case of them doing a better job of extending the rallies when they got them started and did a better job of finding ways to score. The games were well played.

"They are a very good team and they are mentally tough. Josh (Holliday) has done a good job."

The Cowboys started the second game much like they finished the first, scoring runs. In the top of the second with Tim Arakawa sitting at first after a two-out single, Conor Costello, who had been in a slump early in the Big 12 Tournament and was kind of down on himself according to his family sitting in the stands and making some noise and singled in the fifth inning of the first game, came up and blasted a Morgan Cooper pitch into the left field bleachers landing on the sixth row. The two-run home run was the seventh for Costello this season and gave the Cowboys a 2-0 lead.

Texas answered with a run in the bottom of the second. But in the top of the third the home-run hitting Cowboys were back at it as catcher Bryan Case hit his third home run of the season and his second of the Big 12 Tournament. Case's blow landed on the second row of the bleachers in left and was more of fly ball home run than the line drive of Costello one inning earlier.

"Bryan Case, what a huge shot in the arm he has been for us," Holliday added. "He caught 17 innings today and blocked a lot of balls and then hit that home run. He has really been good for us."

Texas scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth just after the two-hour, 20-minute rain delay ended and play resumed. Center fielder Mark Payton's single in the gap in left center scored both runs in the form of Zane Gurwitz and Brooks Marlow.

Cowboys pitcher at that point, Garrett Williams pitched three innings and allowed three runs with the final run he allowed coming in the sixth with Payton again getting an RBI single for a 4-3 Texas lead.

In the first game with Texas still having one of its regular season starters in Nathan Thornhill you just knew someone from pitching coach Rob Walton's Oklahoma State pitching staff was going to have to match up. Give plenty of credit to Thomas Hatch, as the Jenks native that has not been used as much lately did just that allowing just one run on four hits in 4 1/3 innings while the Cowboys were struggling against Thornhill, a pitcher that they had rocked pretty good in the Sunday game in Austin during their regular season series win over Texas.

Going to the eighth inning with Thornhill gone and flame thrower John Curtiss on for the Horns, the Cowboys still had not had a runner reach third base in 16 innings against Texas pitching in the Big 12 Tournament.

They saved it up as Craig McConaughy singled to start the inning only to get picked off first and thrown out at second. Aaron Cornell came on to pinch hit and singled sharply to left field, Saulyer Saxon worked a deep pitch at-bat base on balls, and then Donnie Walton singled in the gap in left center to score Cornell. That tied the game at 1-1.

But the Cowboys were far from through as closer Brendan McCurry warmed up in the left field bullpen. RBI singles by Tanner Krietemeier and Tim Arakawa scored two more runs for the Cowboys to take a 3-1 lead.

McCurry came on and retired Longhorns C.J. Niñojosa and Collin Shaw on line drive fly outs before Kacy Clemens struck out looking to end the game. That forced the baseball to continue before it ran into Mother Nature and that sideways rain.

Oklahoma State is now 45-15 and will play TCU for the Big 12 Tournament title Sunday at 4:30, weather permitting.

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