Oklahoma State dropped its season opening series Saturday with a 5-3 loss to 18th-ranked Arizona State at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
Despite outhitting ASU by an 11-8 margin, the No. 5 Cowboys left 10 runners stranded on the base paths and fell to 0-2 on the season.
“We had opportunities throughout the game to make it tighter and push them, but if you don't play cleaner baseball than we did it's probably not reasonable to think you'll beat a quality ballclub,” said OSU head coach Josh Holliday. “(ASU) is certainly a quality ballclub, and we made too many pitch-by-pitch mistakes throughout the course of the game that opened up opportunities for them to score five runs.
“I'm disappointed in the outcome. As a group, we have to play better, and as a coach, I have to coach better and see to it that our team plays from pitch one through the very end at a higher level. That simply did not happen good enough today to win. We have to regroup and come out together and fight to get game three, and we'll take that challenge.”
ASU took an early lead against OSU senior right-hander Jon Perrin in its first at bat by capitalizing on a pair of errors by the Cowboys. The first of those came when leadoff hitter Johnny Sewald reached safely after first baseman Conor Costello failed to field his grounder cleanly.
Following a bloop single by Jordan Aboites to put runners on first and third, Jake Peevyhouse delivered the Sun Devils' first run with a sacrifice fly. ASU threatened to add to its lead after loading the bases before Perrin got Dalton Dinatale to fly out to end the inning.
OSU did not trail long, striking for a pair of runs in the top of the second. Jon Littell led off the inning with a single up the middle, the freshman's first-career hit, and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and fly out. After a walk to Kevin Bradley put Cowboys on first and third with two outs, Bryan Case smacked a two-RBI double into the left-center field gap to put the visitors up, 2-1.
The lead was short lived, however, as ASU struck for three runs in the bottom of the inning, getting a two-RBI triple from Aboites and a sacrifice fly from R.J. Ybarra to take a 4-2 advantage.
“The rhythm of the game early was not ideal for us,” Holliday said. “It was one of those days where the beginning of the game had an awkward feel to it – a bad hop, a bloop and some uncharacteristic mistakes. It wasn't crisp and didn't have a high level of execution in any capacity.”
ASU tacked on its final run in the third against Cowboy reliever Tyler Buffett when Dinatale followed a double by Trever Allen with an RBI single to put the Sun Devils up by a 5-2 count.
The Cowboys tallied their final run in the fourth. Tim Arakawa, who was 3-for-3 on the day, led off the frame with a bunt single, and Ryan Sluder followed with a double into the left field corner. Up next, Bradley brought Arakawa home with a sacrifice fly to cut OSU's deficit to 5-3.
But that would be all OSU would get as it left a pair of runners on base, a trend that continued the rest of the way as the Cowboys stranded six runners combined in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.
In the sixth, Arakawa and Sluder both reached with no outs, but Aboites came to the mound and retired three-straight Cowboys to end the threat.
After stranding another runner in the seventh, the Cowboys would leave the bases full in the eighth. Singles by Arakawa and Case and a walk to Andrew Rosa loaded the bases with two outs, but ASU first baseman Christopher Beall robbed Gage Green of a hit when he dove to his right to snag a sharp grounder and record the inning-ending putout.
ASU closer Ryan Burr set the Cowboys down in order in the ninth to record his first save of the year.
Along with Arakawa's three-hit day, Corey Hassel, Littell and Case all had two hits apiece for OSU.
Perrin took the loss on the mound, allowing four runs, three of them earned, in 1 1/3 innings. Buffett surrendered just one run in 3 2/3 frames, while Remey Reed worked three scoreless innings in his OSU debut.
Sunday's series finale is set for a 1:30 p.m. (CST) first pitch.
Cowboys Fall In 10 Innings In Season Opener (LATE FRIDAY)
Oklahoma State dropped its 2015 season opener Friday night as Colby Woodmansee's walk-off home run gave 18th-ranked Arizona State a 4-3 win over the No. 5 Cowboys in front of 4,253 fans at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
Woodmansee's solo shot came off OSU junior Koda Glover as the ASU shortstop deposited a 1-2 curve ball just inside the left field foul pole and over the wall to hand the Cowboys the loss.
“It's always tough to lose a game like that, but what you have to look at is the type of baseball game our young club has already had a chance to experience,” said OSU head coach Josh Holliday. “Give Arizona State credit – the kid went up there and hit a two-strike curve ball out of the park and that's not easy to do. You tip your cap to him, you don't sit here and put your head down.
“We faced some a couple of really fine pitchers, we had some chances, and those kids were able to escape those jams. We'll grow from that and do a better job next time we're faced with those opportunities.”
A pair of those OSU opportunities came in the final two innings.
In the ninth, with the game tied at 3-3, the Cowboys looked poised to take the lead against ASU closer Ryan Burr, who walked Jon Littell to open the inning and then surrendered an opposite-field double to Kevin Bradley. But Burr rose to the occasion, striking out three-straight OSU hitters to strand the two runners in scoring position.
After Glover set down the Sun Devils in order in the bottom of the ninth to send the game into extra innings, Gage Green led off the OSU 10th with a walk and promptly stole second. After Green advanced to third on a fly out, the Cowboys had the go-ahead run 90 feet away with one out, but Burr struck out Conor Costello and Tim Arakawa to end the threat.
“We put ourselves in position to put a run across in the final innings only to come up a little short,” Holliday said. “Our kids are disappointed, I'm disappointed. But we came out here for this kind of baseball. You put yourself out there in game one against a very good team, and you might have to deal with this type of reality quicker than had you protected yourself and not played somebody as capable.
“Tough one, but there's another one tomorrow and there's not a lot of time to sit around and feel sorry for yourself. I think we'll have a team that will show up tomorrow with the mindset to turn the momentum a little bit.”
OSU had battled back in the game's middle innings to take the lead.
After Cowboy starter Tyler Nurdin worked three scoreless innings to start the game, ASU got to the senior southpaw in the fourth. Joey Bielek led off the inning with a single and moved to second on a stolen base with one out, and Woodmansee brought home the game's first run with a hard-hit single that glanced off the glove of a diving OSU third baseman Jacob Chappell.
ASU doubled its lead when, after Woodmansee advanced to second on a wild pitch, Dalton Dinatale delivered a double to right field to put the home team up, 2-0. After a walk ended Nurdin's night on the hill, Trey Cobb came out of the bullpen and got a strikeout and a pop up to escape further damage.
The Cowboys wouldn't be down long, however. Littell led off the fifth with a single before advancing to third on a wild pitch and a groundout. After a two-out walk to Chappell, Corey Hassel stepped to the plate and drilled a two-out, two-RBI double into the right-center field gap to tie the score at 2-2. Hassel finished the contest with two hits and two RBIs, both marking career highs for the junior.
In the sixth, OSU would take its first lead when Costello, who led off the inning with a walk before advancing to third on a groundout and a wild pitch, scored on an RBI infield single by Bradley to put the Cowboys up by a 3-2 count.
The Sun Devils mounted a rally in the seventh, loading the bases with two outs on two singles and an intentional walk. But Blake Battenfield kept OSU's 3-2 lead intact by striking out Woodmansee to end the inning.
However, in the eighth, ASU would come through with the tying run off Battenfield as an RBI double into the left field corner by Jordan Aboites plated Johnny Sewald to make it 3-3.
OSU finished with seven hits in the contest, with Hassel and Bradley collecting two apiece.
The Cowboys sent five pitchers to the mound as that group allowed 12 ASU hits but stranded 13 Sun Devils on the base paths. Cobb worked 3 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and tying a career high with six strikeouts.
The two teams return to action Saturday at 2 p.m. (CST).