With a 4-2 win over in-state rival Oklahoma on Thursday, the sixth-ranked Cowboys clinched a share of the Big 12 regular-season championship. TCU begins a three-game series tonight at Baylor facing the almost impossible task of overtaking the front-running Cowboys. One more Oklahoma State win or a TCU loss will hand the Cowboys the regular-season crown outright.
The Cowboys won their 40th game of the season and made in-state rival Oklahoma their 11th consecutive victim, taking the first game in their three-game weekend Bedlam series against the Sooners. A three-run home run in the sixth by Oklahoma State right fielder Conor Costello was the decisive blow in an otherwise close game as the Cowboys handed the reeling Sooners their seventh loss in their last 10 Big 12 games.
This is the longest Cowboy win streak since a 12-game string in 2008, and it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time with the conference title on the line. Oklahoma State’s last Big 12 championship, other than a postseason conference tournament title in 2004, was in 1996, the final season for the Big Eight Conference.
“I am proud of my team,” said Oklahoma State head coach Josh Holliday to reporters after the title-clinching victory. “I have been all year, not just when they win but just proud of who they are and what they stand for as a group. To be honest with you, I don’t want it to be the only (championship. I want it to be the first of what good ballclubs look at as several that you navigate through in a season like this.”
It was fitting that OSU’s leading hitter, catcher Gage Green, started the sixth-inning three-run burst with a bunt single and later scored on Costello’s three-run blast. Green tied a career high with three hits in the Cowboys’ victory.
The Sooners pushed across a couple of runs in their half of the eighth to cut the Oklahoma State lead down to 4-2, but Cowboys’ reliever Vince Wheeland came on to shut off the Oklahoma eighth-inning rally and closer Brandon McCurry pitched a perfect ninth to preserve the win and record his 16th save of the season.
Oklahoma starter Jacob Evans, who was the OU closer last season, worked six innings and took the loss. It was the longest the longest outing of his career. The Sooners dropped to one game over .500 at 27-26 for the year and just 7-15 in the Big 12. OU is now 3-10 vs. ranked teams this season.
The series now shifts to Tulsa for two games on Friday and Saturday.