Pat Kinnison

Cowboys Looking To Get Past Walk-Off Losses

Oklahoma State's baseball team will be looking to get on track after four consecutive walk-off losses, including three in a row at North Carolina this past weekend.

I understand, Oklahoma State rolled out for the start of the baseball season ranked as high as 11th in the country and then goes to Texas and splits two games with both Texas-Arlington and Stephen F. Austin. Heck, Josh Holliday said he expected better but knew they had played against some good baseball players.

Last weekend in Chapel Hill, N.C., and the thick of ACC basketball country, the Cowboys ran into the 10th-ranked Tar Heels and some veteran and precise pitching and lost three one-run games all in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the ninth on Friday and Sunday and the bottom of the 10th inning on Saturday. Count back to the previous Sunday and a bottom of the 10th walk-off loss to the SFA Lumberjacks and that is four walk-off losses in a row.

I don't think I've ever seen that in college or pro baseball. It goes against the law of any averages. Now the first thing you think is the Cowboys can't come up with clutch runs, and yes better hitting with runners in scoring position would help. You also think that you can't close a game. You don't have a pitcher to get the last out but Holliday contends the answers are there and now with 11 of the next 13 games at home in the friendly confines of Allie P. Reynolds Stadium the Cowboys need to find those answers starting at 4 p.m. tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday) against Incarnate Word.

"We are grateful to be back and the weather looks like it is going to be good. Incarnate Word has played seven games, all at home, so this is their first time on the road and our first time at home," Holliday said. "The games the next two days are free and our players are eager to see some orange up in the stands and get out there and play on that beautiful field of ours."

The Pokes play Incarnate Word the next two days, both at 4 p.m. and both games are season opening gifts and free to the public (season ticker holders do have their regular seats). Holliday is not discouraged and the goals of winning the Big 12 and going to Omaha haven't been abandoned after the first two weekends.

"How have our kids competed? They've competed hard," Holliday said of the positives. "How is the energy of the team? It's been good, even excellent. How is the fight in the team? It has been good as they come back the next day each time eager to be at the ball park and play again.

"Most important, did they learn anything? Yes, I think they've learned from these losses and situations. You have to be realistic about this. Walk-off losses are tough and we are learning a lot about details and being forced to play midseason to late season baseball right off the bat. We aren't focused on the record right now but more on the process, and yes, I know we need to win games."

Cowboys shortstop Donovan Walton is off to a really strong start with a .423 average, three doubles, three RBI, six runs scored, and a home run on Sunday at UNC. Walton is also not discouraged.

"All my years of baseball I've never seen anything like it," Walton said. "Walk-off but a loss is a loss and I don't think of it any other way. We have to learn from it and I've told these guys it's early and our job now is to work and get over the hump in the last few innings. We will learn from it.

"Ever since I got back from the summer I've been working with my Pops (father and OSU pitching coach Rob Walton) and Josh and I've picked up on little things and yes, I'm swinging the bat well right now. I'm sure I will have some adversity, but it feels good right now."

Stillwater natives Corey Hassel and Jon Littell are also off to really good starts. The object will be to get the rest of the team and the pitching lined out and improved with Indiana State, Abilene Christian, and then Big 10 favorite Michigan following Incarnate Word into Stillwater over the next two weeks.

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