STILLWATER, Okla. -- Donnie Walton’s walk-off single with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning lifted No. 9 Oklahoma State to a series-clinching win against Arizona State on Saturday.
The win was the fifth in a row for the Cowboys as they clinched their sixth consecutive series victory and improved to 34-13 on the season. It was also OSU’s 20th come-from-behind and fourth walk-off win of the year, and the Pokes are now 10-0 in one-run games.
“These kids are awesome. I enjoy being around them and watching them compete,” said OSU head coach Josh Holliday. “When the spirit of your team is strong and the bond for each other is there, they pick each other up. We had to do that today. We had some moments there through the course of 11-some odd innings where we had some mistakes, but we turned right back around and kept going. That’s a real tribute to the kids and the coaching staff staying positive and encouraging and asking them to continue to fight…
“We’re going up against the best, and our kids are finding ways to just stay in the moment and finding ways to win. I’m very proud of them.”
Holliday’s Cowboys had left the bases loaded in the eighth and 10th innings and were in danger of doing so again in the 11th.
After Saulyer Saxon was hit by a pitch to lead off the decisive inning, Tim Arakawa singled up the middle and a throwing error put OSU runners on second and third. An intentional walk to Craig McConaughy loaded the bases with no outs, but Andrew Rosa and Gage Green both struck out to bring up Walton.
And the sophomore shortstop delivered, lining an opposite-field single to left field that a diving Christoper Beall couldn’t snare to set off a Cowboy celebration.
“I had an at-bat earlier in the game where I could have ended it or changed something and struck out,” said Walton. “But like the coaches say, the game always comes back around to you so just keep going. Luckily I got a pitch to hit and put a good swing on it.
“It’s pretty awesome. That was my first (walk-off hit).”
The Cowboys needed runs in both the eighth and ninth innings to send the game to extra innings, and OSU also got another standout relief effort from Vince Wheeland. The right-hander did not allow a run over the final 4.1 innings, giving up just two hits and striking out three to improve to 6-0 on the season.
ASU (24-19) scored a pair of runs in its first at bat off OSU starter Tyler Buffett, who lasted just two innings, and the Sun Devils took a 3-0 advantage in the third.
But OSU would rally to tie the score in the fourth, compliments of Tanner Krietemeier’s eighth home run of the season, a two-run shot to left field, and an RBI double off the bat of McConaughy.
The game remained tied until the seventh when ASU plated a pair of unearned runs following errors by Aaron Cornell and McConaughy to take a 5-3 advantage.
In the eighth, Arakawa cut into the Cowboys’ deficit with an RBI single, one of a career-high four hits for the OSU second baseman, to make the score 5-4. OSU threatened further damage in the frame, but ASU closer Ryan Burr struck out Green and Walton to leave the bases full.
Still trailing 5-4 entering in the ninth, Zach Fish drew a leadoff walk, and pinch hitter Corey Hassel delivered a perfect sacrifice bunt to move the runner in to scoring position. After a strikeout and a walk, Arakawa again came up huge as he sent an opposite-field single to left field to tie the score at 5-5.
OSU was poised for a win in the bottom of the 10th as three consecutive walks with no outs loaded the bases, but Burr was once again able to work out of trouble.
In the 11th, Wheeland retired the Sun Devils in order for the second-straight inning, paving the way for Walton’s clutch heroics in the bottom of the frame.
OSU finished the contest with 16 hits, with six different Cowboys turning in multi-hit efforts.