Oklahoma State suffered an 8-4 loss to UC Irvine in the NCAA Stillwater Super Regional opener Friday night at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
The loss snapped the third-ranked Cowboys' 10-game winning streak at home, a streak that started on April 18 against Kansas, as OSU fell to 48-17. Coach Josh Holliday's ballclub now looks to win the next two games in the best-of-three series to advance to the College World Series.
The 2-5 hitters in the lineup combined for all seven of OSU's hits, with Donnie Walton, Zach Fish and Tanner Krietemeier collecting two hits apiece. Krietemeier drove in all four of the Cowboys' runs on the night.
Jon Perrin suffered the loss on the mound as the junior right-hander allowed five runs, three of them earned, in five innings to fall to 8-5 on the year.
"I don't think we played as good of a baseball game as we are certainly capable of," Holliday said. "I think that's probably multiple phases. Certainly after a ballgame like that, you don't isolate one area. We didn't play well enough together. In all phases of the game, we could have done some things differently from time-to-time. We had moments there to try to wiggle our way out of certain situations. Irvine had that moment with the big hit and put some pressure on us.
"I think it's just one of those things where you have to stay within yourself and just keep the game on your terms. In some of the situations that we encountered, we didn't handle them as well as we should have. Those are situations we've faced all year long, and we know better. (Irvine) played a good game. They won some pitches at some key times."
OSU took an early 1-0 advantage in its first at bat. After Walton reached on a throwing error, Fish followed with a double off the wall in left field. Up next, Krietemeier delivered an RBI groundout to give the Cowboys the lead.
But the middle innings proved disastrous for Holliday's club.
Jerry McClanahan led off the fourth inning with a single, and after he advanced to second on a bunt, Perrin got the second out on a pop up. However, on a 1-2 count to Kris Paulino, Perrin hit him with a pitch. Then with two on and two out, Perrin uncorked a wild pitch before a passed ball put Anteaters on second and third.
Adam Alcantara would make the Cowboys pay as he delivered a two-RBI infield single to second base to give UC Irvine a lead it would never surrender.
In the fifth inning, Taylor Sparks, who was 4-for-5 on the night, led off with a double to spark a three-run rally. An RBI single by Connor Spencer gave the Eaters a 3-1 lead before the fourth and fifth runs came home via wild pitches, the first one with Perrin attempting to issue an intentional walk.
UC Irvine (39-23) added two more runs in the sixth, strengthening the cushion for starter Elliot Surrey.
Surrey kept the Cowboys at bay all night as the southpaw worked seven innings and allowed two unearned runs on five hits while striking out five.
The Eaters pushed their lead to 8-1 in the top of the eighth before OSU mounted what proved to be its final rally and one that would come up short.
In the bottom of the eighth, Walton led off with a single before Fish reached on a fielder's choice, with an error on the play allowing Walton to advance to second. Krietemeier then stepped to the plate and delivered an opposite-field home run, his 10th blast of the season, to cut the OSU deficit to 8-4.
Still with no outs, Conor Costello recorded an infield single, and pinch hitter Saulyer Saxon was hit by a pitch. Tim Arakawa would strike out, but a fielder's choice allowed Craig McConaughy to reach safely and loaded the bases with one out.
The Eaters would get out of the jam without further damage, however, when Bryan Case grounded sharply to third base to start an inning-ending double play.
The two teams return to action tomorrow at 9 p.m. with OSU looking to keep its season alive and force a deciding game Sunday.
"We've done this a lot this year — come back after a tough loss," Fish said. "I'm not worried about where we are. I know we'll be prepared and ready to go tomorrow. It's a good team that we're facing, Irvine. They came off a big weekend down in Oregon State. I think if we stick together, keep doing what we're doing and continue to fight and continue to be who we are, I think we're going to have a good game tomorrow."