Despite an incredible come back led by the bat of Garrett Benge who went 4-5 with two RBIs, a home run and hitting for the cycle, the Cowboys can’t control the wind as Jeremy Eierman hit a pop-up that rode the wind over the right field fence for a two-run walk-off homer (his 21st of the season) for the Bears. Trey Cobb came in late in the game and pitched a masterful performance going 2.2 innings allowing only two hits, including the two-run homer, with six strikeouts.
“That was an amazing college baseball game, and we just happened to end up on the wrong side of it.” Said Coach Holliday following the loss to MSU. “Both teams played well, just a lot of courage on display out there on the field. We hung in there all day long, every guy we sent to the mound competed awfully well. Got a couple of big time clutch hits in the ninth there to turn it, and had the right guy on the mound. A kid who’s pitched more times in our uniform than anyone in the history of OSU, and was out there with the game on the line. The right guy, sometimes someone on the other team does something special and they have a moment. I’m proud of my kids, it was a heck of game, a tough one to lose. But in the end, I just think that’s a postseason college baseball game played at the highest level.”
The top of the first inning for the Cowboys was relatively quiet with Ryan Cash and Garrett McCain grounding out and Colin Simpson popping out to third. The one highlight being Garrett Benge ripping a liner down the third base line for a double to get out of his slump from the Big 12 Tournament (he went 1-16 in the Big 12 tourney). Hitting for the cycle, Benge became the fourth OSU player to hit for the cycle in the Big 12 Conference era (since 1997). Benge joined the list along with Cowboys Josh Fields (2003), Zach Johnson (2011) and J.R. Davis (2016).
“I was pretty excited when it first happened.” Said Garrett McCain during the postgame press conference about hitting for the cycle. “As soon as that was over, I just tried to switch the mind to defense so I could compete well on defense. I just tried to basically short live it, but it was a great time.”
Blake Battenfield took the mound for the Cowboys and started his day off by throwing eight straight balls walking the first two batters before giving up an RBI double to the third baseman Jake Burger. Battenfield had a long three innings before he was pulled by Coach Walton. He threw 72 pitches, giving up four hits and three earned runs with five walks and three strikeouts before being replaced by Carson Teel.
Teel, out of the pen, had a great outing on the day. He went 3.1 innings allowing three hits and only one earned run, two walks and three strike outs.
The fourth inning for the Pokes was a big one. With Neustifter on second, Ryan Cash singled to center to put across another run for the Cowboys to bring the score within one, 3-2. But the Cowboys couldn’t make anything happen as Garrett McCain hit into a double play to end the inning.
Jeremy Eierman started the bottom half of the inning off with a bang as he brought his homerun total to 20 on the season and the score to 4-2 in favor of the Bears. Ryan Sluder then showed why he was on the Big 12 All-Tournament team by playing a smart one hop deep in center and firing a strike to second in time to get Alex Jefferson out followed by a phenomenal sliding/diving catch by Jon Littell in right to record the second out and a ground out by Drew Millas for the final out.
Sluder then got his first hit of the day as he hit a one out double in the top of the sixth to move Colin Simpson over to third. And then a little bit of controversy. Jon Littell up to the plate hits a shot out into the left field corner to score Simpson from third and Sluder motored around from second slid into home and was called out on an incredibly close play at the play that brought Josh Holliday out of the dugout as soon as the out was called. It was to no avail as there isn’t replay at the regional level and it left the score 4-3 Missouri State.
Then in the top of the ninth inning, Garrett McCain hit a two out single to bring Garrett Benge to the plate where he hit a triple that drove McCain in to tie the game up at four. That triple for Benge would complete the cycle for him. Benge is only the fourth Cowboy to hit for the cycle in Big 12 era. That brought Jordan Knutson in for Missouri State to face Colin Simpson. With two strikes, Knutson threw a wild pitch that brought Benge home to take the lead for the Pokes, 5-4.
Then came the heartbreak for the Pokes. Trey Cobb gave up a single to Justin Paulson in the bottom half of the ninth and then retired the next two batters, including Jake Burger who went 1-4 on the day, which brought up Jeremy Eierman who walked off against Cobb hitting his 21st homer of the year which brought the score to 6-5 in favor of MSU.
“Yeah, it was awesome.” Said Trey Cobb on the feeling he had when the Pokes took the lead in the ninth. “The guys performed in the clutch and Garrett (McCain) and Garrett (Benge) have been really good for us all year, and they came up really big for us. You know, it’s tough to not finish the job you know, you see like that kind of rally and motivation and fierce competition from our guys not to give up. You know, that’s gonna play into tomorrow too, cause you know, this thing’s not over. It takes two to get you out of here. So, we’ve had our backs against the wall for a while now and so this is nothing new. And so, I think we showed that in the ninth with the fight and confidence we had to get it done.”