Oklahoma State earned a day off as the winning streak continues at four and now six is the magic number as if the Pokes make it six-in-a-row then they will hear their name called on Monday for the NCAA Tournament field.
Oklahoma State now knows who they are meeting up with for "breakfast at the Brick" on Saturday morning as West Virginia needed an extra inning to finish off and send home top seed Texas Tech Friday evening. The extra inning, and for WVU the extra game, favors the Pokes as the winner had to use up more pitching, before taking on the Cowboys at 9 a.m. in the first semifinal game for bracket #1 of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship. It may be surprising to some that the scuffling Cowboys for most of the season that qualified only after sweeping Oklahoma in a Saturday game completion and second game in the final regular season series are in the driver's seat to make the championship game of the tournament. Surprising to some, but not to West Virginia head coach Randy Mazey.
"Their backs are against the wall," Mazey said on Thursday night after the Cowboys beat his Mountaineers 8-4 to send them up against Texas Tech on Friday afternoon for the elimination game. "You find out a team's true character when their backs are against the wall. They had a lot of injuries almost as many as we did and we probably weathered it better in the middle (of the season) than they did. They are playing well now, hitting the ball with confidence, pitching well. I think a lot of it comes from the experience of going to Omaha last season. This team knows how to play and as postseason neared I know they got better."
Oklahoma State head coach Josh Holliday got his team up somewhat early this morning as they were on their way to practice by 10 a.m. and then got off their legs and Holliday promised they would be in bed early on Friday, at least resting in their rooms as there is a lot at stake bright and early on Saturday.
"We wanted to practice and get out there and keep our hitters in rhythm," Holliday said. "I wanted them done early, resting most of the day, and I'll tell them to get to bed early Friday because 9 a.m. will come early and we'll need to be at the park early. We need to keep this going and to do that we need to take care of ourselves, hydrate and rest. I think I saw our team show a little wear and tear on Thursday night."
The players are in full focus and full belief right now. The 28-25 record for the season is in the rearview mirror. It is all about the present and the future and because of the way they are playing in the Big 12 there is now a potential future in the NCAA Tournament.
"It’s awesome. I really think that guys like Colin (Simpson), (Garrett) Benge, (Carson) Teel are helping us find our identity," senior pitcher Tyler Buffett said. "We are gritty Pokes. We are going to fight and win. It’s time.”
"It’s a positive and a negative," orange-hot hitting Colin Simpson said of the rest and the day off on Friday. "It’s nice to stay in the rhythm of the game, but it’s also nice to get a day off and get our bodies back to 100%."
One hundred percent, now that is a level that most would tell you the Cowboys haven't been at since the very early days of the season, but in postseason that is exactly what the Cowboys win percentage is right now.