The first seven games of the Big 12 tournament had plenty of offense to go around, but in the eighth game, it was the pitching that took center stage.
Texas pitchers Dillon Peters and Parker French combined to limit Oklahoma State to five hits in a 3-0 Longhorns win over the Cowboys at the Big 12 tournament Thursday night.
The Longhorns advance to await the winner of Friday night's Bedlam tilt. The Sooners and Cowboys will play for the seventh time this year at 7 p.m.
OSU coach Josh Holliday expressed the difficulty of playing a team so many times after Wednesday night's win over the Sooners, but said on Thursday he's not worried about playing Oklahoma once again.
"They have a lot to play for and so do we," Holliday said. "Again, for us it's familiarity. It's kind of like playing pickup basketball with your buddies and you know their moves. You just wonder if they are going to try to do that same move or something different. They had a great win earlier today so they'll probably have a lot of energy and excitement about the game."
Against Texas, the Cowboys were never able to come up with the clutch hit. The Cowboys fell behind, 1-0, in the bottom of the second inning when Kacy Clemens hit an RBI single to score Madison Carter.
Oklahoma State had a runner in scoring position five times, but was unable to deliver the necessary runs.
"When you're playing one-run games and you're putting runners in scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, you're banking on two shots to knock them in," Holliday said. "Early in the game we had some opportunities. They made pitches and plays."
Peters and French were masterful in keeping the Cowboy batters on their toes all night long.
"They were just living out on the outer half, throwing to hitters; throwing their off-speed stuff and getting us out front," OSU left fielder Aaron Cornell said. "Nothing real special, but just more of the location of their pitches, going in and out, keeping the ball down. It was tough to lay off some key pitches they made.
"Any other day, they miss a spot here or there, we might get that bloop hit or someone might throw one in the gap and get something going. They made some real quality pitches when they needed to."
The Cowboys did a nice job of keeping themselves within striking distance and giving themselves a chance to win. OSU starter Jon Perrin gave up just five hits himself in 6.1 innings while striking out four and walking two.
"It's fun," Perrin said of being involved in a pitcher's duel. "Those guys, they can really throw it. I didn't have my best stuff early and it cost me. I've got to come out there with a little more edge next time."
The defense from both teams was also special. The middle of the Texas infield—second baseman Brooks Marlow and shortstop C.J. Hinojosa—robbed OSU of several likely hits that easily could have swung the game in the Cowboys' favor.
"I thought Texas played tremendous defense," Holliday said. "Their middle infielders gobbled up some really difficult plays. That second baseman is about as good as there is at making those plays up the middle. He's a heck of a defender."
However, the Cowboys weren't without their own web gems. One in particular, made by first baseman Tanner Krietemeier, helped OSU keep the score at 1-0 and left the door open for a possible comeback. With runners on first and third and two outs, Texas' best hitter Mark Payton—who tied the conference record of reaching base in 93 straight games on Thursday—scorched a grounder to the left of first base. Krietemeier laid out and snagged the ball, then beat Payton to the bag to end the inning.
Unfortunately, OSU went quietly in the top of the eighth, unable to capitalize on the momentum from the great defensive play.
Texas added insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. With the bases loaded, Clemens hit a bouncer up the middle that second baseman Tim Arakawa fielded cleanly. His throw to second was wide, so instead of turning a sensational, inning-ending double play, two runs crossed the plate and Texas had a 3-0 lead.
Zach Fish reached on an error to start the ninth inning, but was erased on a double play ball from Krietemeier and Conor Costello struck out to end the game.