Oklahoma State became the first eighth-seed in the history of the Big 12 Baseball Tournament to win the event and they did it in front of a near record crowd full or orange-clad fans and excited to hear Garth Brooks (on recording) serenade the Champions with an appropriate song.
OKLAHOMA CITY -- On the field the Oklahoma State Cowboys were dogpiling on top of relief pitcher Carson Teel and catcher Colin Simpson, while over in the OSU dugout head coach Josh Holliday saw one of his former heroes peeking in through the tunnel as Oklahoma State All-American, multiple MLB All-Star, and former Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura was there to congratulate the Cowboys on a rather unsuspecting Big 12 Championship.
As the Cowboys celebrated on the field, another Oklahoma State alumnus, Garth Brooks song played over the stadium speakers, Friends In Low Places. One of the opening lines resonated for Holliday and many others in the stands as the Cowboys celebrated just their second Big 12 Tournament Championship and the first ever won by an eighth-seeded team in the event.
Blame it all on my roots, I showed up in boots and ruined your black tie affair. The last one to know, the last one to show, I was the last one you thought you'd see there.
Well, the Cowboys were the last one that anybody thought they'd see there after they scuffled around to a 26-25 record and only got into the Big 12 Tournament on the strength of two wins over Bedlam rival Oklahoma eight days previous. The Cowboys survived all week and went unbeaten knocking off top-seed Texas Tech 3-0, West Virginia twice 8-4 and 4-3 in 10 innings, and then beat Texas in a four hour marathon 6-5 to clinch a spot, the Big 12's automatic spot in the NCAA Tournament. Don't look now, but the Cowboys have won six-in-a-row. The bats are hitting, sometimes big and the pitchers are getting people out and the Pokes are confident.
"It was an unbelievable performance by these kids," Holliday started and he almost always does as one of the supreme player's coaches in college sports. "The kids at the table had a huge part in today’s game, but the whole group should be recognized for the way they pulled together as a team. I told the kids in the huddle, 12 or 13 days ago after losing to Oral Roberts, we were in a tough spot. We talked about how fascinating it would be to get on the other side of that, and then look back and figure out how we did it. I can’t tell you how thankful I am that they did that. We learned a big lesson on how to turn something around that isn’t going your way. That was a big lesson learned. These kids took the initiative to continue to fight instead of rolling over and dying. These guys did OSU Baseball a good service. They represented their university, our fan base, our school tradition, and I just appreciate all of their efforts. We hung in there all year long, and we were pretty much kicked to the curb as far as having any chance here in Oklahoma City. It was these guy’s day so I’ll let you talk to them about it."
Before the postgame news conference even started, head coach Josh Holliday looked over at the only other player that had joined him as the rest were still celebrating and he said, with the biggest smile on his face, to freshman second baseman Ryan Cash, "Can you believe we won the Big 12 Tournament?"
"Fabulous. Ryan (Cash) was awesome," Holliday said of the freshman that went four-for-five with two runs scored, two RBI, and his first double of the season. "Little man woke up and came to play today. That’s all there is to it."
Big 12 Tournament MVP Garrett McCain gave Cas a lot of credit too. McCain was three-for-four in the win over Texas and had three RBI to go with his four against West Virginia on Saturday.
"I didn’t feel that I produce offensively over the first two games like I would have wanted to. I actually felt like I was letting my team down." McCain said. "There were moments that I could have drove in runs, or move some guys over on the bases, but I failed to do so. I felt like I kind of got back on track against West Virginia. I came in today thinking that I would flush the things that didn’t work so well for me, and remember the things that helped me be successful. I owe a lot of credit to Ryan (Cash) for getting on base as much as he did. Every time I came up to the plate, I would look up and he would be on one of the bases. His success helped lead to my success because he was setting the table for me every time. Ryan is great in that leadoff role and he has been a huge piece to our team this season."
Oklahoma State got some runners on early, but Texas pitcher Morgan Cooper was able to get out of a bases-loaded jam with a strikeout to end the top of the first.
Texas strung together three straight base hits with two outs. Kacy Clemens and Bret Boswell got the Longhorns on the board with two RBI singles that resulted in a 2-0 lead after one inning.
In the third, Oklahoma State fired back with a one-run double delivered by Garrett McCain and cut the lead to one. Kody Clemens produced an additional run for the Longhorns on a RBI double and made the score 3-1.
Oklahoma State received doubles off the bats of Ryan Cash and McCain to extend their lead to 5-3 heading into the bottom of the sixth.
The Cowboys stayed hot and added a run in the seventh when Cowley County C.C,. transfer and DH Bryce Fischer hit a solo home run. It was a bomb into the right field bullpen for Fischer, who has been hot late in the season and earned a spot in the batting order.
The Longhorns staged another comeback, totaling two runs on four hits, including RBI singles by Zane Gurwitz and Ryan Reynolds. Texas trailed 6-5 going into the eighth inning.
But Carson Teel come on to shut out the Horns in the last two innings. Teel; who joined McCain, Cash, Fischer, Ryan Sluder, and Blake Battenfield on the All Tournament Team; allowed only two hits and left three Longhorn runners on base in his two innings pitched to seal the victory for OSU.
Oklahoma State will meet as a team at Allie Reynolds Stadium tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. to watch the NCAA Baseball Selection Show and find out where they are going for the regional next weekend. The Cowboys are still on the "Road to Omaha" even though no one else thought they would be there.