MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Oklahoma State won its season-high eighth consecutive game on Saturday as the No. 7 Cowboys clinched another series victory with a 6-4 triumph against Kansas State.
With the win, OSU improved to 37-13 overall and stayed atop the Big 12 Conference standings at 15-5. The Cowboys have won six consecutive Big 12 series for just the third time in program history since the league began play in 1996, joining the 2006 and 2008 clubs in achieving that feat.
Saturday’s win marked OSU’s 22nd come-from-behind victory of the season, as the Cowboys utilized three home runs to take a lead, then hung on for the win in the bottom of the ninth inning when Brendan McCurry got out of a bases-loaded jam for his 15th save of the season.
“I knew that Kansas State would come pushing back in that game -- they’re too experienced and too talented and too proud to not make a run at us, and they did,” said OSU head coach Josh Holliday. “We held on long enough and battled… It’s a great win, not an easy win, and we’ll see if we can’t come out here (Sunday) and finish our job, which is to win each day.”
K-State (24-27, 4-16) took an early lead against OSU starter Tyler Buffett in the bottom of the first, getting a two-out RBI single by RJ Santigate to go up, 1-0.
The lead was short lived, however. In the top of the second, the Cowboys flexed their muscle as the league leader in home runs delivered a pair of solo shots to take a lead it would never surrender.
Zach Fish got things started with an opposite-field blast to tie the game at 1-1. The round tripper was his ninth of the season, tying him for the team lead. Two batters later, Conor Costellohit his fourth dinger of the year to double the OSU lead.
The Cowboys would add to that lead with a four-run rally in the fifth. After Craig McConaughy was hit by a pitch to open the inning, Dustin Williams stepped to the plate and deposited a Jake Matthys pitch over the wall in right-center field to put OSU on top, 4-1.
They weren’t done. Saulyer Saxon doubled to end Matthys’ day on the mound, and following a sacrifice bunt and a walk, Saxon scored on a throwing error. Tim Arakawa would provide the Cowboys’ final run with an RBI single, extending his streak of consecutive games with an RBI to seven and giving OSU a 6-1 advantage.
The Wildcats would mount a rally of their own in the bottom of the fifth. A leadoff walk and back-to-back singles loaded the bases, and Buffett then issued his second walk of the inning, this one to Santigate, to bring home a run.
Following the RBI walk that made it 6-2, the Cowboys called on Vince Wheeland out of the bullpen to stop the bleeding. K-State’s Austin Fisher greeted the right-hander with a sacrifice fly to cut the Wildcats’ deficit in half, and an error made it 6-4 before OSU got out of the inning when Gage Green tagged out Tyler Stover trying to advance to third base on a wild pitch.
Neither team would score over the next 3.1 innings, but the Wildcats mounted a rally in their final at bat.
Kivett got things started with a leadoff single against McCurry to open the bottom of the ninth, and after a fly out, a bunt single brought the winning run to the plate. Another fly out moved OSU closer to victory, but then Fisher was hit by a pitch to load the bases and bring up Tanner DeVinny.
DeVinny would prove no match for OSU’s closer as McCurry struck out the K-State designated hitter to secure the win.
“Brendan (McCurry) came in and kept his composure,” said Holliday. “(K-State) had the opportunity that the home team always plays for in the bottom of the ninth, and luckily (McCurry) made two outstanding change-up pitches down and away in a pressure situation. When you can throw plus off-speed pitches with the game on the line, it usually works against the hitter and gives you the advantage.”
In a game that saw K-State outhit the Cowboys 11-9, OSU had three players -- Saxon, Fish and Costello -- finish with two hits apiece.
Wheeland picked up the win with four scoreless innings in relief as he allowed just three hits and struck out one to improve to 7-0.