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OSU Baseball: Cowboys Sweep Central Michigan, Finish Home-Opening Series at 7-4

OSU outscored CMU 34-5 on the weekend.

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[Devin Wilber/PFB]

SUNDAY BOX SCORE
PHOTO GALLERY

STILLWATER — Central Michigan is a school a generation of Oklahoma State fans will resent thanks to an untimed football down in 2016, and it felt the Cowboy baseball team beat the Chippewas like they were a rival this weekend.

Oklahoma State finished a series sweep on Sunday with a 19-0 win in O’Brate Stadium. The Cowboys outscored CMU 34-5 across the past three days to advance to 7-4 on the young season.

“Good all-around game today,” OSU coach Josh Holliday said. “Obviously 10 runs in the first inning, good way to start. We threw a lot of strikes and played good defense behind it and got a lot of people involved. …

“Overall for the weekend, step in the right direction for our team.”

The new-look Cowboys have certainly been tested this season. They’ve beaten the No. 2 team in the country on a neutral field but answered that game with back-to-back losses in ranked games: 8-1 to No. 6 Oregon State and 14-4 to No. 25 Dallas Baptist.

Central Michigan is probably the weakest team the Cowboys have played to this point, as the Chippewas have won three games this season — all against Stephen F. Austin. But the Cowboys’ weekend domination against CMU came without All-American Nolan Schubart and blossoming stud Aidan Meola. OSU’s pitching staff gave up 20 hits this weekend and held Chippewa batters to hitting .206.

The OSU bats have shown in the early parts of the year they can take over a game. Sunday’s shellacking was the fifth time this season OSU has scored eight or more runs in a game and the Cowboys’ second game of 19 runs scored.

The Cowboys have six players hitting .315 or better with at least 14 at-bats to this point. Two of those players are true freshmen in Avery Ortiz and Kollin Ritchie. That freshman tandem combined to go 6-for-9 on Sunday with four RBIs and four runs scored.

Ortiz is hitting .318 in his first 22 collegiate at-bats, including a solo home run Sunday to cap off a 10-run first inning for the Pokes.

Ritchie is hitting .361 through his first 27 at-bats as a Cowboy after going a ridiculous 4-for-6 on Sunday. Ritchie matched his classmate’s first career home run with a solo shot to start the seventh inning.

“I thought Avery’s first two at-bats, he looked like a young stud,” Holliday said. “Those are advanced, elite swings not seen often. And at times Kollin is going to give you the same, so those are exciting moments in time for those kids. They’re exciting for the team, and it’s exciting that they’re young.”

Meola has stood out the most among OSU hitters to this point, but he has missed the Cowboys’ past four games with a reported hamstring tweak. He is hitting .444 on the season and has at least one hit in all seven games he has played in to start the year.

After a solid redshirt freshman season in 2023, Carson Benge is one of the few names casual Cowboy baseball fans will be familiar with. He showed out Sunday, going 2-for-2 at the dish with two home runs and seven RBIs. His second round-tripper of the day was a sixth-inning, two-out grand slam that landed in the seats above OSU’s bullpen.

Benge’s batting average is up to .364, and he passed Meola for the team lead in RBIs Sunday with 15 on the year. Benge also made his third appearance this season on the mound Sunday, as he came in and slammed the door on CMU in the ninth, hitting fastball speeds of 96 MPH, according to the in-stadium gun. In 2 1/3 innings this season, Benge hasn’t allowed a hit, much less a run.

Mississippi State transfer Lane Forsythe is also off to a hot start in his first season with the program. Forsythe won a national championship with the Bulldogs in 2021. He made 130 starts across his three seasons in Starkville but never hit above .273. Through his first 36 at-bats with the Pokes, Forsythe is hitting .361.

“Sometimes guys just need a fresh start,” Holliday said. “Chance for him to come here and finish his college career with a clean slate. Sometimes we tug around past experience with us, and we can’t quite shed them. I think he’s been able to shed any of his offensive shortcomings from the past and focus on the player he wants to be now.”

On the mound, newcomer Brian Holiday has pitched a team-high 20 innings and has been dominant in them. A junior college transfer, Holiday helped lead Central Florida JC to a national title last season and was named the  NJCAA JUCO World Series Most Outstanding Pitcher. Through 20 innings at the Division-I level, Holiday has a 0.90 ERA. He went eight innings against the Chippewas on Saturday, where he allowed one run off three hits while striking out nine.

Sophomore Gabe Davis has been Rob Walton’s go-to arm out of the bullpen in the early parts of the year. In three appearances out of the pen, Davis has thrown 10 2/3 innings where he hasn’t allowed a run while striking out 14. A Choctaw native, Davis threw 25 innings as a freshman in 2023 and had a 7.92 ERA.

“There’s been some really well-pitched games, there’s been some good defense at times, there’s been some good swings and there’s been some days where we weren’t able to get the pitch-to-pitch concentration necessary to play at a high level,” Holliday said. “We’re growing. Each week is a new challenge. …

“We’re just trying to move forward, and we’ve done that. We’ve gotten better. We still have a long way to go.”

Josh Holliday’s Postgame News Conference

Up Next

Opponent: Utah Tech
Time: 4 p.m. Tuesday and 4 p.m. Wednesday
Location: O’Brate Stadium

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