The Cowboys pushed on to a fourth straight win powered by the home run ball from catcher Colin Simpson and now the Pokes are in the driver's seat to play for the Big 12 Championship.
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma State Cowboys just keep on rolling as the Pokes hammered on West Virginia for an 8-4 win on Thursday late afternoon and early evening to give themselves a day off on Friday and move right into the first semifinal opportunity on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. Thanks to catcher Colin Simpson, who has been on a tear and went 4-for-5 in the win with two home runs, a two-run shot to right-center field in the first inning and then a three-run home run that kept carrying out to nearly dead center field in the sixth and for all practical purposes put the game away. Simpson has had a good season and, in fact, was hitting home runs, three to be precise, in the series with the Mountaineers earlier this season. In the Big 12 Tournament so far he is 6-for-9 with two home runs and five RBI. Way back at the start of the school year there was some uncertainty as to how well Simpson would be ready for this year.
"He had a broken hand and some nerve issues," head coach Josh Holliday said of Simpson. "He worked really hard, was in the cage all the time and got the feeling back in his fingers. He has great fly ball hands, strong, and with that wind the balls he hit were going to carry."
They certainly did.
"When we left Stillwater earlier this year, we gave their catcher the nickname of Homer Simpson," said Mountaineers head coach Randy Mazey. "He lived up to the billing today again. He’s like I said yesterday. Some people play really good on a certain field like we do. He just feels so comfortable at the plate against us. That guy’s killed us."
Oklahoma State started off fast as Colin Simpson blasted the two-run home run in the first inning.
"I really don’t know what it is. I’m not sure if it’s the way the pitchers throw, but I tend to see the ball well when it leaves their hands," Simpson said of his hitting prowess versus West Virginia. "Honestly, I don’t know what it is.” On how he feels after offensive success… It definitely boosts my confidence a lot, but you can’t get too big and high on yourself because it will come back and bite you in your next at bat. Even though you are having a good day, you still have to buckle down and take it one pitch at a time. I knew how they planned on pitching against me, and I was definitely locked in at the plate."
The Cowboys manufactured another run in the fourth when Ryan Cash scored with the bases loaded on a fielder's choice.
West Virginia grinded away in trying to get back in the game and offensively they had plenty of hits, just not enough big ones and as their head coach Randy Mazey said, "Their hits were on the right side over the wall and ours weren't."
Mazey also pointed out that Oklahoma State benefitted from seven walks from Mountaineer pitching and Oklahoma State only issued two free bases. An RBI groundout by West Virginia's Brandon White scored one run as the Mountaineers responded in the next half inning.
The Cowboys then capitalized off Colin Simpson's fifth inning double as Dustin Williams was able to bring him in on an RBI single. The Cowboys' Ryan Sluder tacked on one more RBI to make it 5-1. West Virginia responded yet again in the fifth as Braden Zarbnisky knocked in Jackson Cramer. In the top of the sixth, Colin Simpson hit his second homer of the day, a three-run shot. West Virginia fired back with two runs produced by a Darius Hill single and a Cole Austin sacrifice fly.
The next three innings would be scoreless as Oklahoma State would hold on for the win. The Cowboys now 28-25 get Friday off and will not play again until 9 a.m. on Saturday morning against the survivor of Friday's 3:15 elimination game between the Mountaineers and Texas Tech Red Raiders.