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Rounding Third: Pokes take fifth straight weekend series

OSU took two of three in Austin and sit alone atop the Big 12.

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Record: 31-13 overall, 13-5 Big 12 (1st)
Streak: Won 2

A huge series win in Austin has OSU jumping into the Top 10. Here’s what you missed with Cowboy Baseball last week:

Five Errors Lead To Midweek Blowout At ORU

This one was just ugly. I wish there was some other way to describe it, but committing five errors isn’t going to win any games. The trouble started in the 2nd, when OSU committed three of those errors and were down 6-1. The Cowboys fought back, and even took the lead in the top of the 5th courtesy of Zach Fish’s seventh home run of the year and Hunter Hagler’s two-run single.

But ORU scored five in its half of the fifth, thanks to OSU’s fourth error of the night. Another four runs from the Golden Eagles in the 7th put this one away for good, giving them a 15-8 win.

Texas Pitching Blanks Cowboys, Allows Only Two Hits

For as much offense as the Pokes showed Tuesday against ORU, the bats were nonexistent Friday in Austin. Two UT pitchers combined to allow just two singles, one each to Donnie Walton and Craig McConaughy. On the mound, Jon Perrin couldn’t find his stride, walking six and striking out none in 4.1 innings. A string of singles gave Texas the lead in the 4th, and the ‘Horns added two in the 8th for the 3-0 final.

Pokes Return Favor, Allow Two Hits In Win

This time, it was OSU’s pitching who shut down hitters. Two walks and a wild pitch allowed Texas to take an early 1-0 lead, but OSU allowed nothing after that. The Cowboys tied it up in the 5th on a UT error, and took the lead the next inning with three straight two-out singles. From there, the bullpen shut it down and Brandon McCurry got his 12th save of the year as the Pokes won, 2-1.

Cowboys Explode on Big 12’s Best Pitcher, Win Fifth Straight Series

In a surprise move, Coach Holliday started reliever Vince Wheeland on Sunday, giving the senior his second start of the year. This put the conference’s top two pitchers on the mound, as Wheeland (1.38 ERA) faced UT’s Nathan Thornhill (0.97 ERA).

Thornhill had only allowed seven runs all year, but OSU tagged him for that many before the 4th inning was over. In the 2nd, McConaughy hit his first home run of the season, a two-run shot to left. Fish followed with his own two-run homer in the 4th, his team-leading eighth of the year. Wheeland allowed one run in three innings, and the bullpen only gave up two more as OSU won its fifth consecutive weekend series with an 8-3 win over Texas.

Last Week’s Results

Tuesday: Oral Roberts 15, No. 9 OSU 8

Losing Pitcher: Alex Hackerott (1-1)
OSU: 5 errors, 10 runners LOB
Fish: 2-5, solo HR (7)
Saxon: 1-4, 2 RBI
Hagler: 1-3, 2 RBI

Friday: No. 10 Texas 3, No. 9 OSU 0

Losing Pitcher: Jon Perrin (5-3)
Perrin: 4.1 IP, 1 ER, 0 K, 6 BB
OSU: 2 hits, 3 walks
Walton/McConaughy: 1-3 each

Saturday: No. 9 OSU 2, No. 10 Texas 1

Winning Pitcher: Alex Hackerott (2-1)
Save: Brendan McCurry (12)
McConaughy: 2-4, 2B, 2 R
Walton: Go-ahead RBI 1B in 6th
Green/Costello: 2-3 each

Sunday: No. 9 OSU 8, No. 10 Texas 3

Winning Pitcher: Vince Wheeland (5-0)
Fish: 2-4, HR (8), 2 R, 2 RBI
McConaughy: 3-4, HR (1), 2 R, 3 RBI
Arakawa: 2-3, R, RBI, SB 

In The Polls (As of April 22)

NCBWA: 9th (13th last week)
ESPN Power Rankings: 11th (15th last week)
Collegiate Baseball: 14th (20th last week)
USA Today: 15th (16th last week)
Baseball America: 21st (Unranked last week)
RPI: 53rd (70th last week)

Offensive Player of the Week

Craig McConaughy, Sr. 3B

Alright, alright, alright! McConaughy had a great week for the Cowboys, hitting 6-12 (.500) with a double and his first home run of the year. He also added four runs and three RBIs in helping the Cowboys take two of three from the Longhorns.

Pitcher of the Week

Blake Battenfield, Fr. RHP

The freshman continued his incredible season this past week with two more appearances. He threw two shutout innings Saturday, preserving a 2-1 lead that the Cowboys would go on to win. He pitched 2.1 innings the next day, allowing an unearned run on four hits. Battenfield has a 1.11 ERA this season in 40.2 innings, the third-most on the team. He’s quickly become one of Holliday’s trusted arms in the bullpen.

Team Stats Leaders

Batting Average: Fish, .315
Runs: Krietemeier, 30
RBIs: Fish, 31
HR: Fish, 8
SB: Green, 13
Wins: McCurry, Wheeland & Perrin, 5
Innings: Perrin, 64.0
ERA: McCurry, 0.53
Strikeouts: Perrin, 55 

Tweets of the Week

Former Cowboy making big strides.

I could think of worse jobs.

These are pretty cool.

A great week for the Austin native.

Upcoming Games

The Cowboys will travel up I-35 to take on Wichita State (22-21) on Tuesday, when the Shockers will try to set a world record. After that, Arizona State (23-17) visits Stillwater for a three-game series. Game times are 6:30 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.

Know Your Conference Foe

The only problem with a nine-team Big 12 is there’s an odd man out every weekend when it comes to conference play. This weekend, it’s OSU’s turn to sit out. But instead of taking the weekend off or playing Nobody State, Holliday managed to get perennial powerhouse Arizona State to visit.

Although not a conference foe, here’s a quick rundown of the Sun Devils: They are third in the Pac-12 at 12-9, and are second in the league in batting average, doubles and home runs. They are coming off a series win over rival Arizona, and have a midweek game against New Mexico State before traveling east.

The Sun Devils are led by Nathaniel Causey, who hits .344 with two home runs and 16 RBIs. He also leads the team with a .452 on-base percentage. Another guy to watch out for is RJ Ybarra, whose 32 RBIs is fourth in the Pac-12.

Their ace on the mound is Brett Lilek. This season, he is 4-2 with a 1.75 ERA and 57 strikeouts. However, as a team, ASU has a 3.61 ERA, good for seventh in the Pac-12. Although Arizona State isn’t ranked, this will be a good test for the Cowboys, who are a few weekends away from winning a conference title.

Three Things To Watch For

1. Awards season is quickly approaching, and the Cowboys have some players who could win some hardware. Vince Wheeland and Brendan McCurry are both up for a Pitcher of the Year award, and Donnie Walton for a Shortstop of the Year award.

All are deserving: Wheeland (5-0, 1.46 ERA, 21 appearances) and McCurry (5-0, 0.53 ERA, 12 SV) have been an integral part of the bullpen and a main reason OSU is a top 10 team right now. Walton (.299, 2 HR, 26 RBI) switched from 2nd base to shortstop this season, and also leads the team with 11 sacrifice hits. He’s turned 23 double plays this season and is one of two guys to start every game this season.

Don’t be surprised if more Cowboys get nominated to watch lists in the coming weeks.

2. With the Bedlam series coming up in two weekends, I wanted to point out that the Sooners have struggled since the 18-inning game in Stillwater two weeks ago. OU dropped both Big 12 series since then, losing two of three to West Virginia and getting swept by Texas Tech this past weekend.

Throw in a midweek loss to UT-Arlington, and the Sooners are 1-6 since leaving Stillwater. They will host Baylor this weekend (just swept by KU) and travel to TCU the next (swept Cal State Northridge) before heading to Tulsa and OKC for the Bedlam Series.

3. I know it’s early, but the Cowboys could host a Regional if they finish the regular season well. It would be OSU’s second Regional under Holliday, and the first in Stillwater since 2008.

It isn’t a lock yet; last season’s late collapse (0-3 in Big 12 Tournament) cost them a shot at hosting, and instead the team traveled to Louisville. They were still a game away from going to a Super Regional, but being at home might have given OSU that last push. It will be interesting to see what Holliday does to avoid a late-season collapse this time around.

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