Cowboys Crush Huskers, But Miss Title Game

OKLAHOMA CITY - Despite being only 1-1 in tournament pool play the Oklahoma State Cowboys, on the strength of their clubbing of the Baylor Bears on Friday evening, are the leading offensive team in the Big 12 Tournament. Nothing changed in that regard on Saturday at the Bricktown Ballpark as the seventh-ranked Cowboys defeated the 12th-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers, 11-5.

With Texas A&M finished following a 6-2 win over Missouri earlier in the day, and leaving OKC with a 1-2 record, the belief was OSU and Nebraska were playing potentially for a national seed.

The Cowboys were facing Nebraska righthander Thad Weber, who back on April 12 gave up seven runs and nine hits in just three and a third innings and was the loser in a 19-2 Oklahoma State win. The Cowboys hitters showed they are consistent and at the same time proved so to is Weber. Weber was finished again against OSU in three and a third innings, this time allowing seven runs on eight hits.

The Cowboys got started in the third inning when nine hole hitter Tyrone Hambly singled sharply to left field. Turning the line up over lead off hitter Donnie Webb singled to right field to place runners at first and third. Veteran shortstop Jordy Mercer struck out on a full count with Webb taking off on the pitch for second. All-Big 12 Huskers catcher Mitch Abeita threw down to second and that allowed Hambly, also moving from third, to score the game's first run.

After Matt Hague hit a line drive single to dead left, freshman designated hitter Dean Green homered to dead center. The shot, which was Green's fifth round tripper of the season, went right over the 400-foot sign and midway up the grass serving as the hitter's background at the Brick. It was at least a 430-foot shot. The Cowboys led 4-0 delighting the mostly orange crowd of 7,240.

Nebraska recovered one run on the first pitch of the bottom of the third as the catcher Abeita deposited the delivery into the OSU bullpen. Abeita's 10th home run of the season made it 4-1.

The OSU bats were back at it in the fourh inning. The Cowboys came in the game hitting .330 as a team and that did not go down on Saturday. Neil Medchill plopped the ball into the corner in left field and Medchill wound up on third base with a triple. Luis Flores drove in Medchill when he doubled over Nebraska centerfielder Bryce Nimmo. Nimmo simply couldn't get back quick enough as Flores' flare just kept going.

After second baseman Thomas Belza moved Flores over with the bunt, a double by Hambly pushed the Cowboy catcher home for a 6-1 lead. Later, following a walk by Webb and an error that allowed Mercer to reach, Hague delivered with a sacrifice fly to right field for a 7-2 advantage. It was in the fourth that the Huskers sent Weber to the showers and brought in right hander Aaron Pribanic.

Nebraska did not go away quite as easily as Baylor did Friday night. The Huskers scored a pair in the fifth which Oklahoma State answered in the bottom half of the inning with Neil Medchill's first home run of the tournament and 10th of the season. The fifth ended with OSU leading 8-3.

The Huskers added two more in the top of the sixth as Oklahoma State head coach Frank Anderson continued to let his usual Saturday ace lefty Tyler Lyons ply his trade finishing the sixth, but that was it for Lyons. He finished with six innings pitched and gave up nine hits and five runs, all earned while throwing 84 pitches. This time the Cowboys did not answer in the bottom half of the inning and it was 8-5 as right hander Matt Peck came on to try and protect the lead.

It got a little crazy in the seventh as Peck, after getting the lead off hitter out, hit Nebraska second baseman Jake Opitz and then walked Abeita. That brought out the hook for Peck and in came stalwart reliever Robbie Weinhardt, who promptly hit Cody Neer to load the bases with one out. The next hitter first baseman Tyler Farst grounded back up the middle to Weinhardt, who instead of going home wheeled and fired to second where shortstop Jordy Mercer was there and came across the bag firing to first to complete the inning ending double play. It was part of an impressive defensive day for Mercer that also included a brilliant leaping snag of a line drive off the bat of D.J. Belfonte in the fourth inning.

In the bottom of the seventh the Cowboys loaded the bases thanks in part to an error by Huskers second baseman Jake Opitz and Nebraska reliever Mike Nesseth hitting Flores. OSU second baseman Thomas Belza singled in a run and then Tyrone Hambly lifted a sacrifice fly to right field for a 10-5 lead. It wasn't over as "red hot" Donnie Webb singled up the middle scoring Flores from second and leaving Belza at third for runners at the corners. A ground out ended the three-run inning and the Cowboys led 11-5.

Oklahoma State closed it out from there for another win over a ranked foe and a 42-16 record on the season. Tyler Lyons picked up the win to go to 11-2 on the season. Nebraska falls to 40-14-1.

OSU tied Kansas State with a 2-1 record in pool two, but the Wildcats advanced to play in Sunday's championship game by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker. KSU defeated OSU, 3-2, on Wednesday in pool play, and the seventh-seeded Wildcats will get a shot at the tournament title and an automatic bid to the NCAA.

In play earlier on Saturday, Texas rallied with three runs in the bottom of the ninth for an 11-10 morning win in pool one. The Texas win coupled with Texas A&M's only win in the tournament, the 6-2 decision over Missouri, puts the Longhorns in the championship game at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

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