Oklahoma State got on the scoreboard early and received a strong outing on the mound from starter Jon Perrin as the 10th-ranked Cowboys topped Illinois, 8-1, Saturday at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
With the win, OSU improved to 8-5 and drew even in the three-game series, setting up a rubber game in Sunday's finale, which is set for a noon start.
“I felt really good about the way the team responded today,” said OSU head coach Josh Holliday. “We were a more aggressive and active ballclub coming out of the chute, and it was a different tone.
“This was a good win for our team. It started on the mound, and we got a lot of contributions up and down the lineup.”
Perrin's fourth start of the season was his best to date as the senior right-hander worked eight innings and allowed just one run on four hits. The lone score he allowed came on a solo home run with one out in the eighth, and he struck out five to improve to 2-2 on the year.
“It was a fun one to be a part of, nice and quick,” Perrin said. “I had pretty good command of all my pitches and was in the zone a lot. When you have an aggressive team like (Illinois) that are willing to swing the bat, that kind of plays to my strength because I pitch to contact. I had a lot of really good defensive play behind me, and it's always nice when your team can jump out and get a few quick runs on the board. It takes pressure off me and just lets me do my thing out there and not worry about the scoreboard.”
Perrin's run support began in OSU's first at bat as following back-to-back singles by Garrett McCain and Tim Arakawa, Conor Costello brought home the Cowboys' initial run on an RBI groundout.
Holliday's club tallied two more runs in the second inning, taking advantage of a pair of Illinois errors and getting RBI singles from Green and McCain to go up 3-0 against Fighting Illini starter Drasen Johnson, who entered the game having allowed just two runs in three starts this season.
Given the three-run cushion, Perrin carved up the Fighting Illini lineup, retiring the side in order in the third, fifth and sixth innings and allowing just one single in both the fourth and seventh frames.
“(Perrin) was just dialed in every pitch, and that makes it easy — it's almost like I'm just sitting there catching a bullpen,” Green said. “I don't have to do too much, just spot up. It makes the game go fast, and it makes it good for the defense because he's throwing strikes and they're going to put it in play.”
The OSU offense put the game away in the seventh as the Cowboys sent 10 batters to the plate and rallied for five runs on five hits, getting a two-RBI double from Arakawa, RBI singles from McCain and David Petrino and a sacrifice fly by Jon Littell.
“We had some guys come up with some big hits, and it was good to get in that zone right there,” Green said of the seventh inning rally. “It's tough when you get a couple of runs in the beginning and think you can just sit there, but against a good team like (Illinois) you can't do that. I was glad we were able to get some more runs there.”
Leading the OSU attack on the day was McCain, the freshman designated hitter who recorded a career-high three hits to go along with a pair of RBIs, while fellow freshman Jacob Chappell along with Arakawa were each 2-for-4 in the contest.