Oklahoma State dropped its opening game in the Big 12/Pac-12 Challenge Thursday as Oregon State handed the ninth-ranked Cowboys a 5-3 loss at Surprise Stadium.
With the loss, OSU fell to 1-3 on the season, while Oregon State snapped a two-game losing streak to move to 3-2.
“We had chances,” said OSU head coach Josh Holliday. “We're just not there yet as a team, pitch-to-pitch, start-to-finish, all phases of the game. When you play a good ballclub, mistakes show up, and we made too many of them. We had too many breakdowns and malfunctions that do not lead to winning baseball. Those things are not in the playbook.
“We've got to play better. These are counters, these are real games. I don't care that it's early in the season, that's not an excuse, because these count. It's tough – learning and losing is never a fun experience, but you have to grow through it and make sure you turn the page on those mistakes.
“I'll take our guys, and we'll get better and come out fighting tomorrow and have an opportunity to right the ship.”
The Beavers took the game's initial lead in their first at bat, getting a pair of softly hit singles off OSU starter Tyler Nurdin before an RBI fielder's choice by Billy King, but the Cowboys would not trail for long.
In the bottom of the first, Corey Hassel smacked a double into the left-centerfield gap, and Tim Arakawa followed with an RBI single that landed on the chalk down the right field line to knot the score at 1-1.
But Oregon State seized momentum in the next two innings, plating runs in each frame to go back on top. In the second, Michael Gretler followed a double by Scotland Church with an RBI single, and the third inning saw Oregon State collect three hits and score a pair of unearned runs to take a 4-1 advantage.
Following the Cowboys' run in the first, Oregon State starter Andrew Moore settled in and worked five-straight scoreless innings. The junior right-hander came into the game with 20 career wins and would get his 21st in this one.
“Andrew Moore is a good pitcher who threw the ball like we thought he would – aggressively and mixed his pitches well,” Holliday said. “To play and go blow-to-blow with him, you have to be more efficient throughout the course of the game.
“We finally forced him out of the game in the seventh with our best offense of the day and had them on the ropes there with a chance to tie it up, but we came up a little short.”
That seventh inning resulted in a pair of runs for the Cowboys, but they would leave the go-ahead run on base.
Trailing 5-1, Dustin Williams and Kevin Bradley led off the seventh with back-to-back doubles, and Jon Littell brought home OSU's second run with a sacrifice fly, his first-career RBI.
After a walk to Ryan Sluder and a pinch-hit single by Garrett McCain off Oregon State reliever Drew Rasmussen that loaded the bases with one out, Gage Green blooped a single to left field to make the score 5-3. But Rasmussen struck out the next two Cowboy hitters, Hassel and Arakawa, to escape the jam and keep the Beavers' lead intact.
The Cowboys were retired in order in the eighth before Oregon State closer Mitch Hickey came on in the ninth and struck out the side for his first save of the year.
Hassel was the lone Cowboy with multiple hits as he finished with two, while K.J. Harrison and Logan Ice each had three hits for the Beavers, who racked up 14 in the game.
OSU returns to action Friday when they face Washington State at 5:30 p.m. (CST).