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OSU Baseball: LaSalle Pushes Cowboys Past Sooners in Final Big 12 Bedlam Series

LaSalle’s first career home run gave OSU the win.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

STILLWATER — It’s going to be hard for Donovan LaSalle to top his first career RBIs.

The scene was one ballplayers daydream about as kids: trailing your archrival with two outs late in a game. LaSalle, a freshman from Louisiana, stepped to the dish in the seventh and clobbered a ball over the batter’s eye in centerfield, giving Oklahoma State the lead in its eventual 9-5 win against Oklahoma, a game that claimed the final Big 12 Bedlam series for the Pokes before OU leaves for the SEC this summer.

LaSalle had missed a majority of the season to this point with a hand injury. Before Friday, he hadn’t played since Feb. 25.

“Just this week is the first time he’s seen a live pitch in six weeks and first time the doctor cleared him to do it,” OSU coach Josh Holliday said. “His commitment to getting back and then his work ethic all week long, the kid has really good karma. He is such a positive kid.

“The team reacted to his home run. It was an unbelievable reaction not only because it was for the team but because he did it, and they’ve been watching him fight his way back. I thought that was an unbelievably cool moment to witness the respect that older players have for a freshman who has been working so hard for the team.”

Just moments before LaSalle’s game-altering swing, the Sooners came up with a big play to keep a lead.

The bases were loaded for Avery Ortiz, another OSU freshman. Ortiz lifted a ball into shallow right field, easily scoring Carson Benge from third, but the Cowboys also tried to sneak Aidan Meola across the plate. OU right fielder Bryce Madron came up firing and easily threw Meola out at the plate. That kept the lead in tact for OU at 5-4. So instead of the bases being loaded with one out, there were runners on first and second with two down heading into LaSalle’s at-bat.

LaSalle’s swing put the Sooners’ pitching staff in an entanglement that it struggled to get out of. After LaSalle cleared the bases, Kollin Ritchie (guess what, another freshman) singled before back-to-back-to-back-to-back walks, meaning two more OSU runs scored.

The Cowboys went into the bottom of the seventh trailing 5-3 and left it leading 9-5.

From there, Robert Cranz powered through the top of the eighth, sitting the Sooners down in order, before Benge went from right field to the mound in the ninth. He gave up a leadoff single before recording three-straight outs to seal it.

Somehow in a series in which the Sooners hit 12 home runs, they lost two of the three games. After entering the day with 10 home runs in the series’ first two games, OU hit another two Sunday.

But the Pokes battled with the longball, as Benge went yard for the sixth time this season. Benge got ahold of his in the third, muscling a solo shot to right center.

LaSalle and Benge were two of four Cowboys to finish the day with multiple hits. Meola and Ortiz joined them.

Ortiz had an excellent first Bedlam series. Out of Tulsa-Union, Ortiz hit .385 across the past three days with three runs scored, seven RBIs and a pair of home runs.

Barring a meeting at the Big 12 tournament in Arlington, Holliday finishes Big 12 Bedlam baseball with a 36-14 record. The Cowboys have won nine of the past 12 against OU.

The series will continue with midweek nonconference games next year, but this will be the final series between the in-state foes for some time.

“I’ve never shied away from talking about these games having a deeper level of emotional magic to them,” Holliday said. “If people can say that [they don’t], then they’re probably not truly as heartfelt a Cowboy or a Sooner as maybe those of us that are. If these games feel like just another game to you, then you didn’t go to school here. Maybe if you’re a transplant player or coach, then yeah, you say, ‘Eh, it’s just another game.’ I’m not a transplant. I spent the first 24 years of my adult life right here in orange and black, and I’ve spent the last 12 right here in orange and black.

“These games matter a lot. Oklahoma State people, just like OU people, know that when we compete there’s a certain level of pride that you feel. It was a good series, but yeah, these games have a different level of juice to them — at least to me they do.”

Josh Holliday’s Postgame News Conference

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