Things could not have worked out too much better for the Oklahoma State Cowboy baseball team this weekend. Instead of being stuck in the snow in Stillwater and playing no games, the Cowboys were relocated to Auburn, AL where they were able to defeat Western Illinois on Friday and Sunday, while dropping Saturday's contest to Auburn.
Friday: Oklahoma State 4, Western Illinois 3
WP: LaRue (1-0) LP: Baksha (0-1) S: Glover (2)
OSU managed to score its first run of the game without recording a hit. Gage Green walked and then advanced on an error before being brought home on a sacrifice fly from Tim Arakawa in the first inning.
That was the only run the Cowboys could muster off of WIU starter Joe Mortillaro, who struck out nine OSU hitters in his five innings of work.
Tyler Nurdin made his third start of the season and just like the first two it was a struggle for the senior left-hander. Nurdin only allowed two runs to the Leathernecks, but he struggled with his control through the entire outing.
Nurdin's line: 3 2/3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER (2 R), 6 K, 5 BB, 80 pitches
Overall, not what coach Holliday is looking for from his Friday night starter. RHP Tyler Buffett relieved Nurdin with the Cowboys trailing 2-1 in the fourth and allowed only one run in 2 2/3 innings pitched.
The Cowboys could not manage another run until the seventh inning when Conor Costello and Arakawa each had RBI hits to tie the game at three. It was freshman Jon Littell who plated the game-winning run on an RBI groundout off the WIU reliever, J.T. Baksha.
RHP Carson LaRue earned the win in relief, retiring five straight hitters after entering the game in the seventh inning.
That set the table for RHP Koda Glover to shut the game down in the ninth inning, needing only 11 pitches to record two strikeouts and set the Leathernecks down in order.
OSU MVP: Tim Arakawa 1-3 at the plate with two important RBI's
This game was a little closer than it needed to be against a lower-level opponent that had yet to win a game on the year, but I'm not about to bash the team for winning a game. This victory extended the Cowboys winning streak to five games.
Saturday: Auburn 9, Oklahoma State 2
WP: Lipscomb (2-0) LP: Perrin (1-2)
This game was a very good test for the Cowboys, going up against an SEC team that was 8-2 while riding a five-game winning streak themselves. Coach Holliday's team ultimately failed this early-season test and snapped their winning streak.
RHP Jon Perrin got the start for the Cowboys and he looked solid to start the game, recording eight outs before allowing a hit. That hit ended his 8 2/3 innings streak without surrendering a hit, dating back to his last start, in which he threw six no-hit innings.
The Cowboys had many chances to score runs off of Auburn starter RHP Rocky McCord who walked three and hit one batter in 4 1/3 innings of work, but could not string any hits together. Kevin Bradley had an RBI single in the third that put the Cowboys up 1-0.
Things started to go south in the fourth inning when Perrin allowed a two-run home run, surrendering a lead to Auburn that they would not regain. Perrin just did not look sharp after throwing the first three innings scoreless.
Perrin's line: 4 1/3 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 75 pitches
The entire OSU pitching staff just didn't have it in this game, allowing a season-high nine runs and 17 hits to the Tigers.
Jacob Chappell had a miserable game in the field, making two errors at shortstop, giving him four on the season.
The offense could not do anything against Tigers RHP Cole Lipscomb, who earned the victory in relief, striking out eight Cowboys in 4 2/3 innings. Overall, the Cowboys struck out 12 times and only recorded six hits total on Saturday.
OSU MVP: Do I have to pick someone?
This was a pathetic showing from the Cowboys in a game where they had a chance to prove something against a talented opponent.
Sunday: Oklahoma State 5, Western Illinois 0
WP: Freeman (2-0) LP: Church (0-2)
Thanks to the wacky scheduling of this relocated series the Cowboys met up with WIU again on Sunday and were able to hand the Leathernecks their sixth consecutive loss to open the season.
Senior LHP Michael Freeman pitched the game of his life in this one, taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning. Freeman was in complete control the entire time he was on the mound and was able to record a career-high 10 strikeout's.
Freeman's line: 8 IP, 2 H, 10 K, 0 BB, 113 pitches
My reaction to Freeman's performance:
Freeman put together the best pitching performance from an OSU starter this season, by far. From someone I didn't think would even be in the rotation to start season, Freeman is definitely making a strong case to become the full-time Sunday Starter.
The Cowboys did not score a run until the fifth inning when Jacob Chappell had an RBI single after WIU starter Preston Church walked two hitters to start the inning. Tim Arakawa tripled and then later scored on a passed ball making the OSU lead 2-0.
The Cowboys added three runs in the eighth inning, highlighted by a two-RBI single from Bryan Case to extend the lead to 5-0.
Koda Glover picked up another pair of strikeouts, pitching a scoreless ninth in relief of Freeman to lock down the Cowboys seventh win of the season.
OSU MVP: Hmmmm... Freeman
WIU (0-6) is kind of like scrimmaging the JV team, but it was a good way for the Cowboys to bounce back after an ugly loss.
5 Things We Learned This Weekend
We can beat Western Illinois (YAY!)
I guess only playing them twice is better than the three times we would have played them if the series wasn't relocated. Thank you four inches of snow.
2013 Tyler Nurdin is still missing
The pitcher that posted a sub-2.00 ERA in 2013 has yet to be found. Nurdin did only allow two runs in his start this weekend, but he has yet to pitch five innings in a start so far this season and his 4.76 ERA isn't too pretty either. I have to wonder how many more poor starts it will take before Holliday realizes that Nurdin is not helping the team in any way.
Jon Littell is human
The freshman (future) superstar struggled this weekend, going 0-7 before Holliday gave him a much-needed day off for Sunday's game. Littell is still hitting a modest .278 with six RBI's for the season, so there is no need to be concerned.
Koda Glover probably isn't human
Eight strikeouts so far in five innings pitched including two saves to start off the season. Oh, did I mention that he throws his fastball 96 MPH! This kid is going to have scouts drooling all year long. I think Brendan McCurry's replacement has been found.
I miss Donnie Walton already
Although he has been out since the opening series against Arizona State with a wrist injury that will cost him 4-6 weeks, his presence was really missed in Saturday's game. Jacob Chappell may be a fine young man, but I do not trust him playing shortstop at all. His two errors in the Auburn really set a negative tone. I'm not trying to pin the loss on Chappell, but better shortstop play could have influenced the outcome. Chappell is the team-leader with four errors on the year.
Weather permitting, OSU will play a two-game home set against UNLV starting Tuesday and then a weekend series against a nationally-ranked Illinois team that has been turning heads early on this season.