In recording its fifth shutout of the season and first since March 15 against Grand Canyon, second-seeded OSU improved to 35-17. The shutout was also the first ever for the Cowboys in 17 appearances – and 50 games – at the Big 12 Championship.
Conor Costello and Trey Cobb combined on the shutout, with Cobb working a perfect final five innings by retiring all 15 batters he faced to earn the win. The sophomore right-hander struck out five and moved to 4-1 on the year.
Offensively, the Cowboys got solo home runs from Dustin Williams and Donnie Walton, who also collected an RBI single, to provide all the scoring OSU needed.
“The story of the game for us was two guys that pitched extremely well in Conor Costello and Trey Cobb, and we played excellent ground ball defense – they made a lot of good pitches, created a lot of contact and our infield was very good at gobbling those ground balls up,” said OSU head coach Josh Holliday. “Really good pitching, excellent defense, some timely hitting and a good first-round win for us.”
Costello pitched out of trouble several times early as WVU (27-26) left runners stranded on base in each of the first four innings, including twice leaving runners on second and third. One of those instances was in the Mountaineers’ first at bat as they led off the game with a single and double before Costello got out of the jam with two pop outs and a fly out.
“Conor wiggled out of some jams early and showed great poise and composure, and that was a big turn right there to get through that,” Holliday said.
WVU starter Chad Donato had a strong night, tying a career high with 10 strikeouts in seven innings, but the Cowboys got to him in the third.
Corey Hassel got things started with a two-out single, and after he stole second, Walton brought him home with an RBI single through the right side to make it 1-0.
The Cowboys doubled that lead in the fourth when Williams blasted his sixth home run of the season to right field.
With a two-run cushion, Cobb came on in relief of Costello to start the fifth inning and dominated the WVU hitters, picking up two strikeouts in both the fifth and sixth innings and not allowing a single batted ball to leave the infield during his five innings of work.
“Trey’s outing was outstanding – that’s the best I’ve ever seen him pitch here,” Holliday said. “His command was big-time – his slider was excellent, he was going in-and-out with his fastball and he threw some good changeups to the left-hand hitters in their lineup. He was very much in control of the game, worked fast and threw strikes.”
In the eighth, Walton added an insurance run when he crushed his fourth round tripper of the year over the wall in right field.
It was especially gratifying for Walton after being named All-Big 12 for the second season in a row and helping to put Oklahoma State in a good position in attempting to win the Big 12 Tournament and earn the best position and standing possible for next week and the start of the NCAA Tournament.
(OSU Athletic Media Relations contributed greatly to this story.)