Cowboys Lose to Mizzou

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma State head coach Frank Anderson had downplayed his recent habit of starting three different pitchers in the final game of three of the last four series, proclaiming that he'd rather have a set third starter in his rotation. But the use of multiple starters proved to come in handy in Wednesday's Big 12 Tournament pool play opener against Missouri.

O-State fans wondering where Oliver Odle was last Sunday in the sweep of Texas Tech found out what Anderson had planned for the junior from Pryor and Connors State College. Odle, who relieved in games two and three against Tech for a total of two and two-thirds innings, got the Big 12 Tournament-opening start.

The 12th-ranked Cowboys wasted no time in giving Odle needed run support. Facing Mizzou lefty Nathan Culp, who had beaten Oklahoma State earlier in the year in Columbia, the Cowboys started in the bottom of the first with three straight singles. Leadoff hitter Corey Brown punched a single through the right side of the infield, and then second baseman Shelby Ford singled sharply up the middle. Brown, who had stolen second advanced to third and when Mizzou catcher J.C. Field let the throw back in get past him Brown scored and Ford moved to second.

Tyler Mach stepped up and singled to left field moving Ford to third. First baseman Rebel Ridling got a hold of a fastball that Tigers left fielder Zane Taylor chased all the way to the warning track. Ford scored easily on the long sacrifice fly to make it 2-0 Cowboys. Even though Tigers second baseman Trevor Helms and right fielder Ryan Lollie lost a Ty Wright pop up for a base hit the Cowboys failed to score any more when designated hitter Adam Carr hit into a third-to-first double play.

Just like he did in a complete game against the Sooners in Bedlam, Odle came out throwing strikes and letting his defense do the work which the Cowboys did until the top of the third. In the third the Tigers had hits that fell, the most unlikely of Cowboys to make an error did, and an umpire's wrong signal also contributed to the Tigers success.

Tiger catcher J.C. Field started the third with a double in the right-center gap. Then after a groundball out Cowboys shortstop Jordy Mercer, with just 10 errors all season, booted a Derek Chambers ground ball that allowed Field to score. Jacob Priday singled to left to put runners on the corners and then Zane Taylor hit a high hopper down the first base line. Cowboys first baseman Rebel Ridling went into foul territory to field it and Odle was on his way to cover for the out but stopped when he saw first base umpire Bill Davis clearly signal foul ball. Taylor was safe at first and Chambers scored the second Missouri run.

Frank Anderson raced from the third base dugout and lit into Davis, while Ridling stood behind him imitating the umpire's foul ball signal. Anderson also spoke his peace with home plate umpire Randy Bruns, who seemed like the other umpires to be apologetic. The Tigers added a third run on a Ryan Lollie single and took the lead 3-2.

"He (Davis) motions foul so everybody stops at that point," explained Anderson, who said he was limited by conference rules on what he could say about the umpiring. "That wasn't the difference maker in the game, but it was very unusual. It might have been fair. It probably was fair, but he motions foul and everybody stops on the play, so I don't know exactly what you could do to change things. I've got a term for it, but I can't use it."

Corey Brown wasted no time in getting a run back to tie the game as he led off the bottom of the third with a mammoth blast over the 385-foot mark in right-center field. Brown's 11th homer of the year tied the game 3-3 and it stayed the way until the top half of the seventh.

With Odle still in the game, and after a Field single for the Tigers, Mercer made his second error of the game. This time after going deep in the hole to field a Priday ground ball, Mercer bounced the throw to first and it got by Ridling allowing Field to score the go ahead run and make it 4-3.

The duel continued in the bottom of the seventh as a Ty Wright single followed by two perfectly placed bunt singles loaded the bases with no outs. After Mercer popped out behind the shortstop, John Schindler, pinch hitting for catcher Matt Clarkson, drove a sacrifice fly to right field to bring in Wright. The inning ended with a pop out to third base and left the issue to be decided in the last two frames.

"He made a good pitch to jam Jordy and then John (Schindler) came in and got a big pinch hit sacrifice fly and then they get out of it," Anderson said of the potential big inning. "You have to credit them."

The tough night for Mercer continued in the top of the ninth. After a leadoff single by the Tigers Trevor Helms and a fly out, Chambers hit one to short that Mercer struggled to get out of his glove and just missed getting the throw over in time to Ridling for the out. The play was ruled a base hit. The next hitter Zane Taylor singled up the middle and with Keanon Simon slightly over running the ball Helms scored from second standing up. Odle came out and Josh Fritsche came on. Lollie greeted the new pitcher with an RBI single. Brock Bond knocked in another run with a sacrifice fly to right and then Evan Frey singled in another run to end Fritsche's brief stint. Dusty Barnard came on and was greeted with an Evan Frey RBI double in the right field gap before the ninth came to a close.

After a rough night in the field shortstop Jordy Mercer ended the evening on a high note with a solo home run to left field, but it was not nearly enough.

A five-run ninth inning was the deciding factor in the 9-5 win by a dangerous Missouri team. It was uncharacteristic for a Cowboy team that has been clutch in late innings.

"This game wasn't unlike a lot of the games we've played in the last 25," said Anderson. "We stayed pretty well even and the difference was we didn't go ahead late and finish the game off. It went sideways a little bit in the ninth inning. It wasn't a whole lot different than a lot of the games we've been playing.

"If you walk out with a certain personality when you win these (kind of) games, then you better walk out with the same personality when you lose them," continued Anderson. "Otherwise these kids don't have the kind of character that I think these kids have."

A sidebar to the loss to Mizzou is whether the Cowboys did any damage to the effort they've staged late in the season to be chose by the NCAA Tournament committee to host a regional in Stillwater.

"We don't really talk about it too much, but I'd be lying to you if I said it wasn't on our minds," said Ty Wright, who finished three for four at the plate in the loss. "When were out there on the field we don't talk about it, so I know it's not our minds, but when we are off the field we realize it would be nice to be at home. It would be a great deal for this team because we have played so well at home. I don't know how this stuff works. I had everybody telling me we were in the tournament last year and then we weren't so I don't know who to listen to. The thing I do know is we can go out and play hard these next two games and have a chance to win them and help us out a lot."

Oklahoma State drops to 0-1 in pool play and 39-16 overall, while Missouri is 1-0 in the tourney and 30-24 overall.

Pool two is off Thursday with the Cowboys next action at the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark on Friday night at approximately 8 p.m. against Kansas.

In the other game in pool two Kansas rode the solid pitching of starter Kodiak Quick and home runs from catcher Buck Afenir and center fielder Matt Baty for a 7-2 win over No. 13 Oklahoma. The win leaves Kansas 1-0 in pool play and 39-23 overall. Oklahoma is 0-1 in tournament pool and falls to 39-18 overall.

Pool one action saw No. 14 Nebraska push across a run in the bottom of the eighth to come back and beat Baylor 3-2. Nebraska is 1-0 in pool play and 40-14 overall, while Baylor, looking to earn an NCAA Tournament bid, is 0-1 in pool play and 34-23 overall.

In the other pool one game No. 9 Texas saw surprise starter Kenn Kasparek hold Texas Tech to five hits in six innings of work. The Texas bats scored three runs in the third and one in the fifth including an RBI triple from designated hitter Hunter Harris. Texas goes to 1-0 in pool play, 39-18 overall, while Texas Tech drops to 0-1 in the tournament and 31-24-1 overall.

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