STILLWATER — Oklahoma State showcased its offensive ability in its series opener against West Virginia on Thursday at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
Whether it’s small ball or the long ball — both of which came into effect — the 16th-ranked Cowboys are proving they can find a way to win here late in the season with a 7-4 mauling of the Mountaineers.
“Home runs are nice — with one swing of the bat can create two and three runs and that’s a heck of a lot better than needing five singles,” OSU coach Josh Holliday said. “College baseball is different, you don’t get many of those. So when you do get them, they’re sweet.”
The victory moved the Cowboys into a tie with Oklahoma for second in the Big 12 Conference standings. The Sooners start their series against conference leader Kansas State on Friday in Manhattan, Kan., with the Wildcats needing to win just one game to clinch the conference crown.
Oklahoma State (38-13, 12-9) finally broke through in the series opener against the Big 12 newcomers in the third, thanks to the Cowboys getting their third straight leadoff batter aboard.
Aaron Cornell led off with a single up the middle and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jarrett Higgins. A wild pitch on the first delivery to Saulyer Saxon, who was hit by the second pitch, moved Cornell to third and set up another gutsy call by Oklahoma State’s first-year coach — after a weekend full in the Bedlam series.
Freshman Donnie Walton was called upon to lay down a bunt on a safety squeeze play, which worked to perfection and Cornell got around the tag to score the first run.
“We’ve practiced that play maybe thousands of times with the safety, and when we put it together in the game it’s always a good feeling,” Walton said. “Josh likes to be really, really aggressive and I think we all do — around the bases even, too, with stealing, hit-and-run, safety squeeze, whatever it may be. We like to be aggressive on the bases.”