Grand Slam, Shockers End OSU's Season

STILLWATER - Coming through the loser's bracket of an NCAA regional is a better test of survival than anything on reality television, especially when it comes to putting together your pitching. After the excitement of OSU's 9-8 elimination game win over TCU featuring Jordy Mercer's heroic performance, life became more mundane in the first championship game of the Stillwater Regional.

But, to a point, mundane is exactly what the Cowboys needed. That point was the bottom of the seventh inning when a familiar guy opened up on Wichita State. The second dose of Merceer's heroics on the day put the Cowboys in reach of a second championship game only to see the opportunity taken away by a two-run top of the ninth by Wichita State

It was on to extra innings where an explosive offensive 10th inning by Wichita State and more, several more, ejections finished the night for OSU catcher Luis Flores and pitcher Matt Hague. Wichita State won the wild extra inning affair 11-7 and now move on to a Super Regional with the winner of the Tallahassee Regional.

Down 5-4 in the seventh inning, Mercer stepped up with Donnie Webb on first after a walk and just after Wichita State had pulled unbeaten pitcher Anthony Capra for Enid product Tyler Fleming. Mercer did what he had already done three times on the day, slamming the Fleming pitch over the screen in left field into the Cowgirls Softball Stadium.

Matt Hague followed Mercer's homer with a solo shot into the net in left and Oklahoma State led 7-5. Just as he did in the first game, Mercer also contributed with his glove with a nice catch off a line drive by the Shockers Tyler Hill leading to a double play to end the eighth inning.

It was the ninth inning that hurt the Cowboys. It hurt them bad as the Shockers Kenny Williams led off with a pinch-hit double and they proceeded to tie the game with a pair of base hits to follow. Robbie Weinhardt, on in relief and obviously tired, struggled with his control and added a couple of intentional walks to load the bases before Weinhardt struck out Cody Lassley to end the threat, but the damage was done with the score tied 7-7.

In the 10th inning the Shockers started with back-to-back walks off of first Weinhardt and then Matt Hague (yes, angther position player pitching). Andy Dirks sacrificed the runners over to second and third and then after a fly out by Ryan Jones and an intentional walk to Conor Gillaspie, Clinton McKeever hit the foul (fair) pole in right field for a grand slam home run and the 11-7 Wichita State lead.

One exception to the unobtrusive beginning was the still simmering feelings from the previous night when Sunday night's plate umpire Steve Mattingly tossed OSU assistant coach Greg Evans and cited him for offensive language. The situation which brought Anderson out of the dugout. It was Anderson that was tossed by Mattingly when he argued the veteran umpire's call on a bang-bang play at first base.

The rhythm of the game was Wichita State pop out to a small lead and the Cowboys would come back. The Shockers, needing just the one win to move on to a Super Regional, started in the first when third baseman Gillaspie doubled to centerfield driving in lead-off hitter Dirks. In the bottom of the first the Cowboys moved ahead as Donnie Webb scored on Matt Hague's ground out to short and then Mercer, hero of the first win over TCU, scored on a double to the wall in right by Rebel Ridling.

In the second, the Shockers added two runs with the big blow being a double to right by Andy Dirks. Wichita State led 3-2, but that advantage only lasted until the bottom of the third when OSU leftfielder Neil Mechill singled between the second baseman and shortstop, just out of their reach, to score Hague. Again, the two teams each scored in the fourth inning, one run each and the game was tied at 4-4.

Wichita State jumped out on top again in the sixth and this was the one that brought Anderson to the mound for a pitching change. Tyler Weber took the first pitch and sent it into the net in left field for a 5-4 Shocker advantage.

There were more than a few looks of astonishment before the game when Luis Flores came down from the bullpen to join his teammates. The catcher for the Cowboys wasn't in his shin guards and chest protector but instead had his fielder's glove on to start at pitcher.

Again, the survival mode you have to be in as your catcher, who has thrown all of three innings all season, giving up three hits and two runs in two brief stints against Mid-America Christian. Flores held together for five innings against the 14th-ranked Shockers. It was Wichita State catcher Tyler Weber's solo home run to the alley in left-center that ended his evening.

Flores finished up allowing five runs on seven hits. he struck out four without walking a single Shocker. When he came off the mound Flores moved back to behind the plate until he was ejected in the top of the 10th inning. It was just the kind of effort you have to get from an unexpected source in trying to survive from the loser's side of the bracket. The Cowboys came close -- very close -- going into the ninth but couldn't get it done.

Oklahoma State finished the season 44-18, while Wichita State advances on with a record of 47-15.

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