Turning back, spinning forward and accurately delivering his pitches toward homeplate, Oklahoma State junior pitcher Spencer Grogan released a loud forceful breath that could be heard from the bleachers.
During his six-inning, three-hit, five strikeout shutout performance Saturday in game two of a three-game series with Miami University in Ohio, the sound gave a sense that he was putting his all into every toss.
The Cowboys swept the Redhawks thanks in part to Grogan, who led his team to victory in the most competitive game of the series, a 6-2 OSU win.
OSU coach Tom Holliday said the wins mean a lot because of the quality of the Redhawks' team.
"That's a good ballclub, that team right there's gonna win 30 or 35 ball games," Holliday said.
It seemed that one pitcher in each game of the series for the Cowboys welcomed the challenge with open arms.
"Outstanding," Holliday said of this weekend's pitching. "Our pitching has been this way all season long."
The Cowboys gave up only one earned run in each of the first two games, and two in the last game of the series.
"That's incredible in college baseball to be giving up one or two runs every time we go out there," Holliday said.
OSU won Friday's game 12-1 on the arm of junior pitcher Scott Baker, who pitched seven innings allowing only one earned run on four hits and striking out five batters, while junior pitchers Shane Hawk and Daniel Rew teamed up in relief to secure an 11-3 win in the second game of the doubleheader Saturday.
"That takes a lot of pride, when the score is like this to go out and pitch because frankly this is the kind of area that nobody wants to throw in, but Rue had to go out and finish this one, Hawk came out and gave us three straight outstanding efforts."
The bullpen was forced to step up in the final game when junior starting pitcher Jimmy Rhodes started out the first inning by allowing five of the first six batters to get on base via three walks and two hits. He was pulled after 1.1 innings for Hawk who fired off a 5.2-inning masterful barage that kept Redhawk batters guessing. He finished with no earned runs and five strikeouts.
Then Rew finished out the final two innings with five strikeouts of his own.
"When a starter doesn't go good like Jimmy didn't go good in this ball game, the next guy has to come out and take four or five innings off the board and Shane Hawk did that and put us in position to win," Holliday said. "(Hawk) Kept us relaxed offensively so we could go out and score."
While scoring came easy in games one and three, Redhawks' freshman pitcher Matt Long shut out the Cowboys in the first four innings of game two, forcing OSU into a precarious situation.
"When you go back to a game where a guy's getting you out, and their kid (Long) was getting us out, I was very disappointed in our offense in the first half of that ball game," Holliday said. "The guy was only throwing two pitches at us, a curve ball and a fast ball, and we were real lethargic, offensively, in that first game."
But the Cowboys took advantage of Redhawk mistakes in the bottom of the fifth inning to propel them to victory.
OSU sophomore catcher Jason Jaramillo shot a base hit up the middle to start the inning in which the entire lineup got to bat. A series of hits, walks and a fielder's choice got the Cowboys on top 4-0 from which they never looked back.
"You've got to take advantage of other people's mistakes. In a tight game like that, I'm sure they did not want to have a crack, but the crack was they walked; they made a couple errors. I think we had one hit and one sac fly and scored four runs. That's taking advantage of the other people's weakness. Opportunistic baseball."
Part of being opportunistic is being patient enough to take walks when they come. The Redhawks walked 23 OSU batters over the weekend.
"If their gonna give you walks, you've gotta take em," Holliday said. "The walk is a very important part of the offense of baseball. It's not all hitting. If they're not gonna throw it over the plate, you've got to take the walk. Discipline is critical."
Holliday said at times, the offense disappointed him, but promised it would get better.
"You only get 27 outs in a game and we're not gonna give any of them up," he said. "Everybody going up to the plate is going to be going up there with a purpose."
Holliday said playing at home would help improve the team, but they don't have that luxury.
"We've only got 25 home games; that's not a lot of home games," Holliday said. "You win three, you take care of your business. Guys start feeling a comfort zone by playing at home that nobody can beat you. Then you take a look at your league play, you know, we come home to the defending national champions, so it's very important to win all three games. In fact, I wish we were playin here instead of North Carolina this weekend, but that's not the way the schedule goes. We just get comfortable and we're back on the road again."