OSU Baseball Tames Wildcats
STILLWATER - Oklahoma State bounced back in a big way to even its series with Kansas State Saturday afternoon as the 12th-ranked Cowboys earned a 12-3 win at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
In front of a season-high 2,224 fans, OSU racked up 15 hits, four of them from Ryan Sluder, as the Cowboys improved to 18-8 overall and 3-2 in Big 12 Conference play. The victory sets up a Sunday rubber game, set for a 1 p.m. start, as head coach Josh Holliday's ballclub goes for its ninth-straight Big 12 series win.
The Cowboys jumped on K-State (12-13, 1-4) early on Saturday as they rallied for six runs in their first at bat, all of them coming with two outs, in an inning that saw them send 11 batters to the plate and collect seven hits.
“To come out today and start off the way we did is a real strong statement from our club,” Holliday said. “You want to turn the energy from the night before any time you end up on the wrong side of the board, and we did that early in the game. Our kids were patient and yet aggressive at the same time and had countless quality at-bats up and down the order.
“To bat through the order like that tells you the kids came out with a pretty sharp mindset from pitch number one on.”
In the decisive first, Donnie Walton got things started with a one-out, opposite-field double, and after a strikeout, Conor Costello stepped to the plate and delivered an RBI single to give OSU a 1-0 lead against K-State starter Kyle Halbohn.
Costello's single was the first of five consecutive hits for the Cowboys. Following a single by Dustin Williams to put runners on the corners, Corey Hassel ripped a two-RBI double into the left-center field gap.
OSU pushed its lead to 4-0 on an RBI single by Kevin Bradley, and Sluder followed with his first hit of the day, a single. Up next, Jacob Chappell reached on an error, loading the bases for Tim Arakawa, who drove in two more runs with a single.
The Wildcats scored their only run off OSU starter Remey Reed in the third, but the Pokes responded in the bottom of the inning with the highlight of Sluder's career day, a two-run home run over the wall in left field that marked the first homer of the sophomore's career.
“It was exciting to finally get that out of the way,” Sluder said. “I was just seeing it well, not really getting too antsy or trying to do too much, just seeing the ball and putting the barrel to it.”
“Ryan has been swinging the bat really well the past 10 days — I think he's found something at the plate that feels right, that he trusts and he's confident in,” added Holliday. “I'm glad to see him have a day like that; it's really good for him and our team. He seems confident and relaxed, and he's hitting the ball hard to all fields.”
K-State trimmed its deficit to 8-3 with runs in the fourth and fifth innings but that would be as close as the Wildcats would get as Tyler Buffett helped seal the win with his effort out of the bullpen.
Buffett took the mound for the Cowboys over the final five innings, recording five strikeouts and allowing just one run on four hits to improve to 2-1 on the season.
“Tyler is a very competitive pitcher — he knows his way around the mound and doesn't get too high or too low, just maintains his composure,” Holliday said. “He chewed up five quality innings for us today, and we needed that out of the bullpen.”
OSU tallied four more runs over its final three at-bats. Costello blasted his team-leading fifth home run of the season in the sixth, a two-run laser to left field, and Williams plated the Cowboys' final two runs on an eighth-inning double.
Sluder finished the contest 4-for-4 with two RBIs and a pair of runs, while Costello picked up a career-high three hits and drove in three runs. Walton and Williams also had two hits apiece for the Cowboys.