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TCU Bat Flips Oklahoma State Out of Winner’s Bracket at Big 12 Tourney



While most of the state was wrapped up in game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, the OSU baseball team was focused on the third-seeded Horned Frogs. When all the dust settled the Pokes fell to TCU 13-5 and will be forced to battle back from the loser’s bracket.

Things started out promising for the Cowboys as they tagged TCU starter Mitchell Traver for four runs in the bottom of the first. J.R. Davis tallied the first run, scoring on a wild pitch. Wednesday’s hero, Conor Costello, would follow that with a two-run single up the middle and Ryan Sluder would tack on another RBI to close out a productive first frame.

Big 12 Pitcher of the Year Thomas Hatch was on the mound for OSU and he would cruise through the first three innings of the game. However, the Horned Frogs would get the ace in the fourth, tallying four runs thanks in part to extra-base hits by Connor Wanhanen and Dane Steinhagen to even the score at 4.

While his pitch count was high after the rocky fourth inning, Hatch would continue to be effective into seventh inning before being lifted in favor of Garrett Williams after getting one out.

With the game still tied in the seventh, Garrett Benge rocketed a double down the right field line that plated Donnie Walton to give the Cowboys a 5-4 lead.

Williams would allow a leadoff single to Luken Baker and strike out Josh Watson before Coach Holliday would call on his closer Tyler Buffett for a potential five-out save. Buffett is capable going more than one inning and I don’t fault Holliday for going to him in this situation, but he just didn’t have it tonight.

The go-ahead blow would come on a breaking ball that ran in and hit Wanhanen. After that the Horned Frogs wouldn’t look back, tagging Buffett for six runs total in the inning. Buffett would be mercifully pulled from the game after letting all six hitters he faced reach base. TCU would total nine runs in the inning after Alex Hackerott surrendered back-to-back home runs to Baker and Evan Skoug.

The bat flip on the first one was something else.

“Tough outing,” Holliday told The Oklahoman of Buffett’s performance. “But you know what, I’ll take that guy any day of the week. He’s been awesome for us. And he’ll bounce back tomorrow. That’s why they pay those guys in the Major Leagues a lot of money to close games. It’s a hard job, because every time you pitch, the game is on the line.”

The eighth inning of the 13-5 loss felt eerily similar to the meltdown innings that beguiled the Cowboys in the 2015 postseason in losses to TCU in the Big 12 final and Arkansas in the NCAA regionals. While this loss shouldn’t affect the Cowboys spot in this year’s regionals, this is a game OSU should have won.

The harsh reality that was realized tonight is the Cowboys don’t have a strong enough bullpen to make any serious noise in the postseason. This team lacks a Brendan McCurry-esque reliever that can shut down a game in a tense situation.
OSU will now be forced to go through the loser’s bracket and will face elimination against Texas on Friday.

If the Cowboys win that game they will have to knock off TCU twice just to get to the title game on Sunday. Call me a cynic, but this team doesn’t have a deep enough staff to make that kind of run.

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