Oklahoma State knocked off Texas twice Saturday to earn a berth in the Big 12 Conference Baseball Championship game Sunday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
OSU, the tourney's top seed, will face second-seeded TCU in Sunday's championship game at 4:30 p.m. It marks the Cowboys' second appearance in the Big 12 title game. In 2004, OSU defeated Missouri in Arlington, Texas, to claim the trophy.
Both OSU wins Saturday were in come-from-behind fashion, giving the Cowboys 27 comeback wins on the year as they improved to 45-15. It marks the program's highest win total since the 1999 team won 45 games.
"The story of the game is these kids' amazing ability to compete," OSU coach Josh Holliday said. "No matter the circumstances, no excuse in the world exists for these kids, and that's really special to be a part of. We're a team that plays for each other and to see kids like Mark (Robinette) step forward with a big outing is an awesome story and something he will remember.
"(Sunday) somebody else is going to have to do it because the way it lays out, it's very taxing on your pitching staff and very taxing on your legs."
Following OSU's 3-1 win in Saturday's first elimination game, the Cowboys took an early lead in the second contest, with the Big 12's leader in home runs using the long ball to get on the scoreboard.
In the top of the second, Conor Costello delivered a two-out, two-run blast, his seventh homer of the season, to give OSU a 2-0 advantage, and in the third, Bryan Case's solo shot to lead off the inning put the Cowboys on top, 3-1.
With OSU still up 3-1 and two outs in the top of the fourth inning, heavy rains forced a delay that spanned two hours, 29 minutes. When the game resumed, the Longhorns quickly tied the score with a pair of runs against Cowboy southpaw Garrett Williams, but the freshman escaped further damage when, with the score tied 3-3 and the bases loaded, he recorded back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning.
Texas (38-18) took its first lead of the game in the sixth, gaining a 4-3 advantage on an RBI single by Mark Payton.
That lead held until the eighth when the Cowboys mounted yet another late rally as for the third-straight game, OSU recorded a three-run eighth inning that proved to be the difference.
Saulyer Saxon got the pivotal inning started with a leadoff walk, and after Aaron Cornell was hit by a pitch, Donnie Walton laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners. Up next, Gage Green was intentionally walked to load the bases and bring up Tanner Krietemeier.
And the senior delivered as Krietemeier ripped a Parker French offering up the middle for a two-RBI single to give the Cowboys a 5-4 lead.
Two batters later, with the bases still full, Costello brought home a run with a sacrifice fly to push the OSU lead to 6-4.
"I can't tell you if any clubs have played Texas 18 innings in one day and found a way to win," Holliday said. "It's one of the top-five pitching staffs in the country, and that was our sixth time playing Texas this year. It's really challenging competition when you see those type of caliber players across the field and how well they are coached. I applaud our kids for their competitive spirit, and I knew they were going to rally back one more time. They always do and we were able to get a clutch hit."
The Cowboys would also get a clutch performance on the mound from senior Mark Robinette to seal the win.
Robinette worked the final three innings, allowing just two hits and shutting out the Longhorns, who made things interesting in their final at bat.
Tres Barrera led off the bottom of the ninth with an infield single and was replaced at first by pinch runner Weston Hall. Madison Carter then sent a fly ball to center field that Saxon dropped for an error, but an alert Green backed up the play and gunned Hall out trying to reach third.
With one on and one out, C.J. Hinojosa singled. A ground out then resulted in the second out of the inning but moved the Longhorn runners to second and third base.
However, Robinette would retire Kacy Clemens on another ground out to second to end the rally and send OSU into Sunday's title game against TCU, who the Cowboys defeated twice in three games in Stillwater in late March.
Walton, Krietemeier and Case each had two hits to lead the OSU offense, while Robinette improved to 3-2 on the year with the three-inning effort.
In the first game on Saturday, OSU forced Game 2 by erasing a 1-0 deficit against the Longhorns with a three-run eighth inning as the Cowboys notched their 26th come-from-behind win.
Neither team managed much offense early, and the game entered the fifth inning scoreless as OSU's Thomas Hatch and UT's Nathan Thornhill dueled it out on the mound.
However, the Longhorns finally got to Hatch in the fifth, loading the bases on two singles and a walk before an RBI infield hit by Ben Johnson put UT up 1-0. OSU shortstop Donnie Walton made an outstanding play on Johnson's ball up the middle to keep it on the infield and save a second run.
The Cowboys failed to get a hit off Thornhill until a leadoff single by Conor Costello in the fifth inning, then stranded a pair of runners in the sixth.
But the offense would finally come up big in the decisive eighth.
Things didn't start smoothly. Craig McConaughy opened the frame with a single but was picked off before a sacrifice bunt could be executed.
However, pinch hitter Aaron Cornell delivered a single, and Saulyer Saxon walked to bring Walton to the plate. And the sophomore delivered, sending a single through the left side to bring home the tying run.
Up next, it was Tanner Krietemeier's turn as he laced a single to right field. Saxon raced home from second and slid ahead of the tag at the plate to provide the go-ahead run.
After a strikeout, OSU tallied its third run of the inning on an RBI single to push the Cowboys' advantage to two.
With a 3-1 lead, McCurry came on to slam the door in the ninth, and the righty set UT down in order, striking out Kacy Clemens to end the game and notch his 18th save of the year.
Blake Battenfield earned the win with three scoreless innings of relief as the freshman struck out a career-high four in improving to 3-0.