Oklahoma State shut out Harvard 2-0 in the first round of the NCAA Regionals on Friday night at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.
The Cowboys struggled at the plate, but bested the Crimson thanks to a nearly perfect defensive effort. Pitchers Jensen Elliott and Peyton Battenfield combined for nine strikeouts and only allowed four hits.
Elliott paved the way with seven clinical innings. He struck out four and allowed three hits. The junior’s only walk came in his last inning; a strikeout and an easy grounder ensued. He had great command over his sinker and forced the Harvard batters into measly grounders and easy outs.
for @jensenelliott, who tosses 7 shutout innings and leaves with a 2-0 lead to begin the 8th. Righty struck out 4, walked just 1 and allowed 3 hits, all 1Bs #GoPokes #okstate pic.twitter.com/3VzoJLoLfF— Cowboy Baseball (@OSUBaseball) June 1, 2019
Battenfield took over in the eighth and struck out five in a two-inning save. He gave up a leadoff double in the ninth. But the runner never advanced because the junior from Claremore forced a ground out, then struck out two in a row to clinch the victory.
The pitching performance is notable because Harvard has a team batting average of .285, and has five players batting north of .300. Patrick McColl, who hits .399 with a .462 on base percentage, went 0-4 and was one of Battenfield’s strikeout victims in the ninth. Ivy League Player of the Year and Harvard’s single season RBI record holder Jake Suddleston went 0-3, and was also struck out by Battenfield in the ninth (on a filthy breaking ball, I might add). Also, OSU fielders deserve credit for an errorless nine innings.
☑️ 2-0 win over Harvard.— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) June 1, 2019
☑️ Seventh shutout of the season.
☑️ Advance to the winners bracket.
Next up: @OSUBaseball vs. Nebraska tomorrow at 7 p.m. CT.#RoadtoOmaha | #GoPokes | #Big12BSB | @NCAACWS pic.twitter.com/EQFI0WvdOI
Harvard put forth a strong defensive effort as well. Junior right hander Hunter Bigge pitched gave up six hits in six innings, allowed two runs and struck out nine. Sophomore Enzo Stefani replaced him and pitched two hitless innings. But Harvard failed to provide any run support.
The Cowboys’ first run came in the first inning. Third baseman Christian Funk singled, then advanced to third on a single by senior catcher Colin Simpson. Andrew Navigato hit Funk in with a grounder to shortstop.
OSU didn’t have another baserunner until the fourth, when Navigato singled to centerfield. He advanced to third on a single by junior outfielder Trevor Boone and scored on a wild pitch by Bigge.
In the other OKC regional, Nebraska topped UConn 8-5, despite striking out sixteen times and being outhit 19-13.
OSU and Nebraska will play at 7 p.m. Saturday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. UConn and Harvard play at 2 p.m.