Oklahoma State clinched second place in the Big 12 Conference regular season baseball race on Friday after sweeping a doubleheader forced when wet grounds postponed the series opener with Kansas on Thursday night.
The Cowboys finished the day by jumping early on one of the best Friday night pitchers in the league in the Jayhawks Ben Krauth. Oklahoma State scored three runs in the top of the first as Donnie Walton slugged a home run over the screen in left field for a two-run lead and then later in the inning first baseman Dustin Williams singled home another run for a 3-0 lead.
The Cowboys used pitching from freshman Jensen Elliott and several relievers to go on to a 9-2 win. Walton would knock in another run in the next inning when he hit the ball up the middle and it deflected away from the KU infielders when it hit second base and took a right turn. It was that kind of day for the Cowboys as they also won the first game of the day 4-3.
"That was one of our best offensive games all year long and certainly our best against a left-handed pitcher," Cowobys head coach Josh Holliday said. "Donnie's home run was just what we needed to put a gap early in the game. He played one heck of a game tonight and really all day long. Four big RBIs in the nightcap and that home run early was huge."
That first game was saved by Tyler Buffett, who came off several tough outings including starting against Oral Roberts in the 3-1 loss earlier this week. Buffett came on with the bases loaded in the eighth and finished the last inning and two-thirds in perfect fashion to get the save and preserve the win for Thomas Hatch, who started and pitched really well until the eighth.
"Thomas (Hatch), once again pitched very well," Holliday said. "We weren't very explosive on offense, but we were good enough and our pitching was able to come in and lead us out of some tough situations. That was a very good win for us."
Stillwater native and senior rightfielder Corey Hassel was the hitting star for the Cowboys as he had two of the Pokes' six hits including a home run in the fifth inning down the left field line that proved to be the winning margin. Oklahoma State scored two runs in the first on a Conor Costello RBI single and a fielder's choice by Dustin Williams.
Oklahoma State moves to 15-8 in Big 12 play and can finish no worse than tied with TCU for second place. By virtue of the series win over the Horned Frogs the Cowboys are no worse than second.
"I don't know how these kids do it," said Hollliday. "It's a tough thing to do. It's a lot of baseball and a lot of mental grind. We did it at Baylor, we did it down in Austin and now we did it again here today."
Overall, Oklahoma State is 34-18. Kansas is doomed to staying home in the postseason as the Jayhawks are 6-16 and clinched ninth in the Big 12, which means they will be the only conference team that will not be in Oklahoma City next week for the Big 12 Tournament.
Oklahoma State will celebrate senior day for some very deserving seniors such as Donnie Walton, Corey Hassel, Conor Costello, and others. Saturday's game has a first pitch of 3 p.m. at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.