Oklahoma State had impressive showings at the plate and on the mound Friday as the ninth-ranked Cowboys cruised to an 11-1 win over Washington State in the Big 12/Pac-12 Challenge at Surprise Stadium.
OSU, which improved to 2-3 on the year, collected 14 hits against the Cougars, led by Jon Littell's 3-for-4, three-RBI night, while Jon Perrin and Conor Costello combined to allow only two hits and strike out 10.
“I'm really encouraged by the way (Perrin and Costello) threw the ball, and for the most part we played really good ground ball defense, which is key when a pitcher is throwing strikes, and we've got guys in the outfield who can run the ball down,” Holliday said. “Pitching and defense were strong. Then we got hit by a couple of pitches, walked six times, stole five bases, laid down a couple of bunts – a lot of little things that are part of a good offensive night were part of the recipe. And we had a couple of big hits to knock in runs.
“It was a very positive night for us, and certainly something we talked about before the game, playing the kind of baseball that we're trained to do, that we believe in and that we take so much pride in, and the kids did that.”
The Cowboys wasted no time seizing momentum as they rallied for three runs in the first inning and knocked WSU starter Tyler McDowell from the game after just 2/3 of an inning.
After Gage Green led off the frame with a walk and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and a stolen base, Costello put OSU up 1-0 with a sacrifice fly. Later in the inning, back-to-back, two-out RBI singles by Tim Arakawa and Littell pushed the Pokes' lead to three.
In the third, OSU pushed its lead to 4-0 when Littell scored on a passed ball, and the Cowboys went up 5-0 in the fourth on an RBI double by Costello.
The big cushion was more than enough for Perrin, who picked up his first win of the season with a masterful effort. In six scoreless innings of work, the senior right-hander racked up six strikeouts and did not allow a hit.
“Jon had good stuff – his fastball had more life on it than a week ago, and he threw his changeup and slider effectively,” Holliday said. “Six innings, 84 pitches, he gave us a great outing. This time of year, I understand he had a no-hitter at the time, but we've got to protect these kids and keep them healthy for the long haul. There's nothing about a personal accomplishment right there that outweighs the value of having that guy healthy throughout the year.”
Costello would come on in relief of Perrin, and in his first pitching outing of the season, work the final three innings, striking out four and picking up his first-career save.
“Conor has really worked hard on his pitching the last two years, and you saw why there's a lot of optimism about what he can do,” Holliday said. “He's got a live fastball, and he threw the ball well.”
WSU (3-3) managed its lone run in the eighth on an RBI single by Haakon Lande, but the Cowboys rallied for five runs in the bottom of the inning to put the game away as Littell had a two-RBI single to go along with a two-run home run from Bryan Case to provide the final 11-1 margin.
Nine different Cowboys had hits in the game, and along with Littell, three of those – Green, Costello and Case – had multi-hit efforts.
Up next for the Cowboys is Utah, with those two teams squaring off Saturday in Mesa, Ariz., at 2 p.m.