Oklahoma State jumped on top-seeded Clemson early and got a strong pitching effort for the second-straight night as the second-seeded Cowboys advanced to the NCAA Clemson Regional final with a 12-2 win over the host Tigers Saturday night at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
With the win, OSU improved to 38-20 and needs one win to capture a Regional championship. The Cowboys will take on the Sunday's Clemson-Western Carolina winner Sunday at 6 p.m. (CST) with an if-necessary game scheduled for Monday at 6 p.m.
Tyler Buffett was the pitching hero for the Cowboys Saturday night as he helped snap Clemson's 10-game winning streak, shutting down a Tigers' offense that had scored 42 runs in its previous two games.
Making just his third start of the season but 34th appearance overall, Buffett tied a career high with seven innings of work and improved to 7-3 by allowing just one run on seven hits while striking out six.
Buffett's previous season-long outing came in a six-inning effort against Dallas Baptist on March 15, while his other seven-inning stint came as a freshman against Oklahoma in 2014.
"Tyler did an outstanding job, and he's been outstanding all year," said OSU head coach Josh Holliday. "He's been in a lot of big moments, and he handled the stage and the setting beautifully… Tyler has been so valuable all year long. He's pitched in just about every role possible, and it's because he's a winner. We've used him all year to win."
The Cowboys provided the junior right-hander plenty of run support as they scored in each of their first three at bats. They finished the game with 17 hits, tying a season high, and all nine OSU starters collected RBIs in the contest.
OSU got the scoring started early, getting back-to-back RBI singles from Garrett Benge and Conor Costello in the top of the first inning to take a 2-0 lead against Clemson starter Clate Schmidt.
The Cowboys added a run in the second on an RBI double by Corey Hassel before taking control of the game and chasing Schmidt from the mound in the third inning.
In that pivotal frame, OSU rallied for five runs on five hits to take an 8-0 advantage. Ryan Sluder got the scoring started with an RBI double, the first of three-straight RBI hits for the Cowboys as Jon Littellfollowed with a run-scoring single before Collin Theroux smashed a double to plate two more runs. Hassel brought home the final run of the inning with a sacrifice fly.
"I give these kids a lot of credit – they went out there and put up an awfully good offensive effort," Holliday said. "The output up-and-down the lineup was excellent, and there were some big hits. Most importantly, we continued to score throughout the game, which is important against a team that is very talented and of the highest quality."
Clemson tallied its lone run off Buffett in the third, getting an RBI groundout from Chase Pinder to cut the lead to 8-1.
OSU tacked another crooked number on the scoreboard in the seventh to put any hopes of a Clemson comeback to rest as Davis drove home a run with a single before a two-out, two-RBI single by Donnie Walton gave the Cowboys an 11-1 lead.
Davis was one of three Cowboys to finish the game with three hits, as Littell and Costello also reached that total for the second-straight game, while Hassel, Walton and Theroux paced OSU with two RBIs apiece.