Stillwater — With all the pressures of the moment, the significance of the weekend and Oklahoma State’s first home regional since 2008, the Cowboys advanced to their first Super Regional in seven years on the back — or rather arms — of some blossoming ball players.
In Sunday’s regional clinching victory, OSU called upon a freshman pitcher — as they had throughout the weekend — to right the ship after some early waves en route to an 6-4 come-from-behind win over Cal State Fullerton.
With junior starter Tyler Nurdin failing to escape the first inning, giving up three runs before being pulled with two outs, Oklahoma State turned to Trey Cobb with the bases loaded to tame the Titans. Which he did in the first, and gave the Cowboys five more innings with giving up just an unearned run.
“The professionals want winners, guys who know how to compete and execute pitches in key spots, execute pitches when guys are in scoring position,” OSU pitching coach Rob Walton said. “That’s one of the biggest things, is can you make the pitch that gets the out to get you out of the inning. That’s a sign of growth.”
And Walton and the Cowboys have seen that growth from most of its freshmen pitchers — who were highly regarded as the gems of the No. 4 recruiting class in Josh Holliday’s first class at his alma mater.
While any freshman in any sport has a learning curve at the college ranks, the pitcher may face one of the biggest challenges — which perhaps makes the final numbers for OSU’s freshmen pitchers in the Stillwater Regional even more impressive. The Cowboys got 13 innings of work from first-year college pitchers with 12 strikeouts registered and no earned runs given up.
“The execution is at a higher level than in high school, they’re not going to be able to just throw 90 past somebody. The value to movement, to location, the pressures become a big deal,” Walton said. “You can’t control anything else — the guy swinging the bat, he can’t control the umpire. He can’t control anything but the pitch he’s getting ready to execute. If they just focus on that, the execution usually goes up.”