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Cowboys Aim For Another Big 12 Series Win In West Virginia - KOAM TV 7

Cowboys Aim For Another Big 12 Series Win In West Virginia

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Press Release Oklahoma State Universty:

Oklahoma State 


     Oklahoma State makes its first-ever trip to Morgantown, W.Va., this weekend to take on West Virginia in a Big 12 Conference series beginning Friday night. The 18th-ranked Cowboys have won eight of their last 10 games and bring a 23-10 record into the weekend. OSU has notched back-to-back conference series wins against TCU and Texas Tech and sits in a three-way tie for third place in the Big 12 standings with a 5-4 mark.

     OSU is coming off a 41-19 season in which the Pokes finished second in the Big 12 Conference standings and advanced to the finals of the NCAA Louisville Regional. Six position starters and seven pitchers return from that ball club, including eight players who earned all-conference recognition, and the Cowboys’ recruiting class was ranked among the top five in the nation.

     OSU is hitting .261 on the season, while its pitching staff sports a 3.38 ERA.

About West Virginia

     Under second-year head coach Randy Mazey, West Virginia is 16-12 overall, which includes a 2-3 mark in Big 12 Conference play. The Mountaineers are hitting .282 and own a team ERA of 3.06.

     Expected to start on the mound this weekend for WVU are:

     Friday - LHP Harrison Musgrave (3-1, 1.96)

Saturday - RHP Sean Carley (5-1, 2.92)

     Sunday - LHP John Means (4-1, 1.72)

     OSU is 5-2 all time against West Virginia. Last season, the Cowboys won two of the three games against the Mountaineers in the final regular season series of the year in Stillwater, then dropped a 6-5 game in 10 innings at the Big 12 Baseball Championship.

Watch, Listen, Follow

     All OSU baseball games are carried live by Stillwater Radio and will air on KSPI 93.7 FM or 780 AM. Rex Holt, who is in his 32nd season on the air with Cowboy baseball, will call the action, with Matt “Chief” Davis providing color commentary.

     Links to live stats for all games can be found at www.okstate.com. Additionally, live online video and audio for all home games not televised can be accessed via okstate.com (a fee is involved with this service). Video/audio/live stats links are all available on the OSU baseball page under Schedule.

In The Polls

     OSU is nationally ranked in a pair of polls this week, coming in at No. 18 in the NCBWA poll and No. 19 in the USA Today coaches poll. On Feb. 24, OSU was ranked 11th by Collegiate Baseball, marking its highest national ranking since it was No. 11 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll on March 16, 2009.

     The Cowboys have now been ranked in at least one national poll for 23 consecutive weeks dating back to 2013, when OSU was in the polls for the final 14 weeks of the season. In 2013, the Cowboys peaked at No. 12 in the NCBWA poll on May 20.

It’s Not Where You Start...

     Oklahoma State was picked to finish second in the Big 12 Conference standings in 2014 in a preseason vote of the league’s head coaches.

     Defending champion Kansas State was picked to retain its crown, and the Cowboys and TCU tied for the second spot in the poll. K-State received five first-place votes, while OSU picked up two and TCU one. Texas, which was picked fourth, garnered the other first place vote.

     OSU’s second-place spot ties its highest ever in the Big 12 preseason coaches’ poll. The Cowboys were also picked to finish second in 2007 and eventually finished third in the final standings.

Winning

     The goal of college baseball coaches and players is to make it to the College World Series in Omaha, and the OSU coaching staff has plenty of experience in that regard.

     The Cowboys’ staff of Josh Holliday, Rob Walton and Marty Lees has combined to make 12 CWS appearances as either a player or coach. 

     Holliday played on a pair of CWS teams at OSU (1996 & 1999) and has coached in the CWS as an assistant at Georgia Tech (2006), Arizona State (2009) and Vanderbilt (2011).

     Walton spent four seasons as a pitcher at OSU from 1983-86, and each of those teams appeared in the CWS.

     As an assistant coach at Oregon State, Lees helped lead the Beavers to Omaha three-straight years from 2005-07, with two of those trips resulting in national championships (2006 & 2007).

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

     In January 2013, despite his having not yet coached a game, Baseball America named OSU’s Josh Holliday the nation’s top college head coach under the age of 40. The top 10 list was compiled based on the voting of coaches and scouts.

     In addition, Marty Lees came in at No. 6 on Baseball America’s list of the nation’s top 10 college assistant coaches. That list was compiled from the votes of 70 Division I head coaches across the country, as well as the input of more than a dozen scouts. Coaches with prior D-I head coaching experience, such as OSU pitching coach Rob Walton, were excluded from the list.

Baseball In Their Blood

     Baseball — and Oklahoma State — is definitely a family affair for Josh Holliday.

     Josh’s father, Tom, served as an OSU assistant coach for 19 years then took over as the Cowboys’ head coach from 1997-2003, leading the program to its last College World Series appearance in 1999. Tom is currently in his eighth season as the associate head coach at North Carolina State.

     Josh’s younger brother, Matt, is an outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals. In 10 major league seasons, Matt has been named to six All-Star teams.

     Josh’s uncle, Dave Holliday, was an OSU assistant coach from 1981-88 and has since held a variety of roles in Major League Baseball, including his current spot as a professional scout for the Atlanta Braves. Dave’s son, Heath, is a senior catcher for the Cowboys this season.

Home Sweet Home

     Allie P. Reynolds Stadium has been home to Oklahoma State baseball since April 4, 1981, and in those 33-plus seasons the Cowboys have been nearly unbeatable on their home field.

     OSU is 851-197 (.812) all time at Reynolds Stadium and has lost more than two consecutive games on their home turf only five times (six in a row in 2007; three straight in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014).

     The Cowboys are 15-7 at home in 2014.

I Feel A Draft

     OSU has eight players on its 2014 roster who have been Major League Baseball Draft picks: Conor Costello (2011, Cincinnati, 16th round), Zach Fish (2011, Texas, 24th), Thomas Hatch (2013, Colorado, 32nd), Heath Holliday (2009, Colorado, 45th), Tyler Nurdin (2011, Cleveland, 28th), Andrew Rosa (2013, Boston, 30th), Donnie Walton (2012, NY Mets, 36th) and Garrett Williams (2013, San Diego, 33rd).

Big 12 Elite

     OSU had 11 players garner All-Big 12 accolades in 2013, the program’s highest total since 2008, and eight of those players return this season. Relief pitcher Vince Wheeland and outfielder Zach Fish were named to the first team, while infielder Tanner Krietemeier earned second-team honors.

     Named honorable mention were pitchers Tyler Nurdin and Mark Robinette, outfielder Saulyer Saxon, utility player Brendan McCurry and infielder Donnie Walton, who was also named to the All-Freshman Team.

Great Expectations

     OSU’s 35-man roster consists of 18 newcomers, and the Cowboys’ recruiting class was ranked No. 4 nationally by Baseball America and No. 5 by Collegiate Baseball.

Grab A Roster, Get To Know Them

     Seventeen different Cowboys have made their OSU debuts this season, and of those, nine are true freshmen. Nine Cowboys have recorded their first-career hits, while freshmen pitchers Thomas Hatch, Garrett Williams and Tyler Buffett and junior Michael Freeman have notched their first wins.

Fab Frosh

     Baseball America ranked the top 50 players nationally for the 2014 freshman class, and three Cowboys were among the top 25 on the list. Two-way threat Garrett Williams came in at No. 6, while outfielder Ryan Sluder took the 20th spot and pitcher Thomas Hatch came in at No. 25.

     Additionally, Baseball America ranked Williams as its preseason Big 12 Freshman of the Year.

The Scouts Will Be Watching

     Baseball America ranked a pair of OSU juniors among the top prospects in the Big 12 for the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft, with Zach Fish coming in at No. 8 on their list and Tyler Nurdin taking the ninth spot.

     For the 2015 Draft, Baseball America ranks Conor Costello, who is a draft-eligible sophomore this year, as the conference’s eighth-best MLB Draft prospect, while Donnie Walton comes in at No. 10.

On A Roll

     OSU opened the season 7-0, marking the best start to a season since the 1995 Cowboys won 11 in a row to open the year. After 11 games, the Pokes were 10-1, and you would also have to go back to 1995 to find the last time OSU had a better record in its first 11 games.

Comeback Cowboys

     Coming from behind was a trend for the Cowboys last season — 18 of OSU’s wins in 2013 came in games in which they trailed. That penchant for comeback victories has been prevalent again this season as OSU has overcome deficits in 14 of its 23 wins. 

Close... And The Cigar

     OSU is 8-0 in one-run ball games this season.

Thievery

     OSU ranks third in the Big 12 with 52 stolen bases. The Cowboys have been successful on 52 of their 64 attempts to steal, while their opponents are just 25-of-45. Gage Green leads the Pokes with 13 steals, while Tim Arakawa has nine.

     The Cowboys swiped nearly twice as many bases as their opponents in 2013 as they racked up 80 stolen bases and allowed just 42. The 80 steals was the second-highest total in the program in the last decade. Gage Green led the Pokes with 13 stolen bases, while Aaron Cornell swiped 12.

Making A Sacrifice

     Donnie Walton’s 18 sacrifice bunts as a freshman in 2013 set an OSU single-season record. Walton broke the previous record of Fred Ocasio, who had 16 in 1993. With six sac bunts this season, he has 24 for his career to put him fifth on OSU’s all-time list.

     As a team, the Cowboys rank in the top 10 nationally this season with 41 sacrifice bunts. Gage Green and Walton lead OSU with six.

It’s A Walk Off

     OSU has recorded three walk-off wins this season. Tim Arakawa has twice been the hero with a two-out, walk-off single. The first of those was a two-RBI hit on March 15 that gave the Cowboys a 7-6 win over Texas-Pan American. The junior’s second walk-off single came vs. TCU on March 29 in a 2-1 OSU win.

     On March 25, Gage Green delivered a walk-off double in the bottom of 11th inning to lift OSU to a 3-2 win over Missouri State.

The Pen Is Mighty

     OSU’s bullpen has been the strength of its pitching staff this season. The Cowboys’ relievers have combined to go 14-0 in 100 relief appearances. That group has also racked up 170 strikeouts in 161.0 innings of relief and allowed only 43 earned runs, which equates to a 2.40 ERA. Opponents are hitting just .198 against the Cowboy bullpen.

Ball Four, Take Your Base

     OSU ranks eighth out of nine Big 12 teams in batting average (.261), but the Cowboys are second in the league with a .380 on-base percentage. The reason? OSU leads the conference and ranks in the top 10 nationally with 169 walks.

Wheeland And Dealin’

     Cowboy senior Vince Wheeland continues to build on his breakout performance of a year ago when he was an All-Big 12 First Team selection and one of 41 players on the College Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2013 Pitcher of the Year Award Watch List.

     A right-hander, Wheeland made 30 appearances last season, the second most in a single season in program history, and was 8-2 with two saves and a 1.97 ERA. In 73.0 innings of work, he recorded 64 strikeouts, and he ranked fifth in the league in opponent batting average at .219.

     In 15 outings this season, Wheeland has a 1.22 ERA, which ranks second in the Big 12, and is also among the top 10 in the league in opponent batting average (.189, 3rd) and appearances (15, T-7th).

     Wheeland’s 69 career appearances are tied for seventh on OSU’s all-time list.

Slamming The Door

     OSU senior Brendan McCurry is one of 50 relievers on the 2014 NCBWA Stopper of the Year Watch List.

     The right-handed McCurry was named All-Big 12 Conference Honorable Mention as a utility player a year ago after going 6-3 with eight saves and a 2.72 ERA. His 29 appearances and eight saves each tied for fifth on OSU’s single-season charts, and he also recorded 35 strikeouts in 46.1 innings.

     McCurry has picked up eight saves this season to bring his career total to 16, a number that trails only Jordy Mercer on the school’s all-time list. Mercer racked up an OSU record 17 saves from 2006-08.

     In 18 appearances this season, McCurry is 5-0 and has allowed just one run in 23.1 innings, and he has given up only 11 hits while recording 29 strikeouts. His five wins and eight saves both rank second in the Big 12.

Big 12, Big Arms

     OSU owns a 3.38 team ERA for the season, but in the Cowboys’ nine conference games, the staff sports a 3.08 ERA. And Big 12 opponents are hitting only .208 against the Cowboys, the lowest opponent batting average of any staff in the league.

Battenfield Blanks Opposition

     Blake Battenfield had quite an impressive start to his OSU career. The freshman right-hander did not allow a run in his first 24 innings as a collegiate pitcher. The streak finally ended in Battenfield’s 13th relief appearance when he surrendered a run against Texas Tech.

     Battenfield owns a 1.08 ERA in 14 appearances and has 22 strikeouts in 25 innings.

Strong-Armed

     Under the direction of coach Rob Walton, the OSU pitching staff was impressive on the mound in 2013. The Cowboys finished with 41 wins, and seven pitchers who combined for 30 of those wins return this season.

     Among the accomplishments of the 2013 staff were:

     • OSU finished the season with a 3.04 team ERA, the lowest by a Cowboy pitching staff since 1973. 

     • Eight Cowboy hurlers with at least 14 appearances had an ERA of 3.58 or lower.

     • The Cowboys recorded seven shutouts, a total the program had reached just once in the previous 26 years and only four times in program history.

     • OSU ranked seventh in the NCAA in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.02), and the Cowboys were 11th nationally in walks allowed per nine innings (2.47).

Power Surge

     OSU leads the Big 12 in home runs with 22, and 10 different Cowboys  have homered this season. Three Cowboys — Tanner Krietemeier, Zach Fish and Conor Costello — rank in the top 10 in the league in homers.

Dynamic Duo

     The Cowboys ranked either first or second in the Big 12 in six offensive categories in 2013 and a big reason for that was the two-headed monster in the middle of the lineup in the form of All-Big 12 performers Tanner Krietemeier and Zach Fish, a duo that returned in 2014. 

     • Krietemeier’s .314 batting average led OSU, and the first baseman ranked among the top 10 in the Big 12 in hits (72), walks (33) and RBIs (45).

     • Fish ranked in the top 10 in the Big 12 in home runs (7), doubles (17), RBIs (41) and total bases (103).

     • Krietemeier had 20 multi-hit games to lead the Cowboys, while Fish’s 19 ranked third.

     • Krietemeier hit .368 (32-for-87) with runners in scoring position, while Fish finished at .338 (27-for-80).

     • Fish led the Cowboys with a .451 slugging percentage and 11 multi-RBI games.

     Both sluggers have been productive this season. Fish is hitting .304 with five homers, eight doubles, 21 RBIs and a .504 slugging percentage, while Krietmeier leads the Big 12 with six home runs and is tied for the Cowboys’ team lead with 21 RBIs.

Versatile, Dependable, Productive

     All those adjectives can be used to describe Cowboy junior Gage Green. The Texan leads OSU with a .327 batting average, and he is tied for second in the Big 12 with 13 stolen bases, which equals his career high of a year ago. His .426 on-base percentage is the ninth highest in the conference.

     And it’s a safe bet that Green is one of a very few collegiate players — and maybe the only one — who splits his time between catcher and center field. Of his 29 starts this season, 17 have been in center field and 12 behind the plate. 

     Green is also flexible when it comes to filling out the lineup — he has hit in the leadoff spot in the batting order six times, while the rest of his time has been divided between the fifth, sixth and seventh spots.

Making Up For Lost Time

     Conor Costello began his collegiate career at Arkansas, even making an appearance for the Razorbacks in the 2012 College World Series. After transferring to Stillwater, he sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules as well as rehabbing his arm after Tommy John surgery.

     The rust is wearing off in a big way for the Edmond, Okla. native in 2014. Costello is OSU’s leading hitter in Big 12 play as he’s hitting at a .344 clip. Five of his 11 hits in league play have been doubles, leading to a .500 slugging percentage in those nine games.

The Best Of What’s Around 

     Donnie Walton earned Big 12 Player of the Week honors on Feb. 24 after a six-game tear in which he hit .500 (12-for-24) with five doubles, a home run and 11 RBIs. He tallied 20 total bases and an .833 slugging percentage and also added four walks and a stolen base. Defensively, he recorded 16 assists without an error.

     In the series with Oakland, Walton was 8-for-16 at the plate with three doubles, a homer and seven RBIs. In a Saturday doubleheader, he went 6-for-10 with a homer, three doubles and five RBIs. That included a career-high four hits in the opener and tying a career best with three RBIs in the nightcap. 
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