STILLWATER, Okla. — For the first time all weekend, the Oklahoma State starting pitcher had a lead to work with entering the second inning Sunday afternoon.
The second Colin Simpson home run of the series – and second one in less than a day – propelled the OSU baseball team to its first early lead over West Virginia.
Cowboys’ starting pitcher Brett Standlee worked successfully through the next five innings, keeping OSU on top by a marginal amount.
Unfortunately for Standlee and the Cowboys, the home team wasn’t able to muster any more runs in the contest. They fell, 4-2, to the Mountaineers in the rubber match contest – dropping their first Big 12 Conference weekend series of the season – at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
“That game was sitting on a platter for the taking through innings two, three, four, five and six,” Simpson said. “It was there for us to take. … That game was not played as well as it should have been. So, it’s very depressing to lose this series.”
The game was a near role reversal from Saturday’s OSU victory. The Mountaineers led OSU 5-0 midway through Saturday’s contest, but gave up three runs in the sixth inning and five more in the eighth to lose 9-5 in Game 2 of the series.
Sunday, the Cowboys (19-11 overall, 6-3 Big 12) surrendered two runs in the eighth inning and one more in the ninth as they squandered the lead. The Mountaineers’ win clinched their first conference series of the spring.
“The game wasn’t decided in that (eighth) inning,” OSU coach Josh Holliday said. “The game was decided in innings three, four, five, six and seven when neither team did anything to win the game. The game was sitting there waiting to be taken and no one took it. By the eighth inning, they made a move. … We point to those things because that’s when the actual number occurred, but the moments in time over nine innings to win the game were plentiful.”
The game ended on a called third strike with OSU freshman Hueston Morrill at the plate. Morrill immediately reacted to the call, unhappy with it.
Holliday also argued the call with the home plate umpire. He briefly addressed it after the loss.
“It was high,” Holliday said. “It was high.”
Both teams came out swinging in the first inning. WVU (19-12, 4-5) struck first with a one-out walk of Brandon White, who advanced to second on a Standlee error on a pickoff throw. It was the first of four OSU errors on the afternoon.
Darius Hill plated the first run with an RBI double down the right-field line. Hill finished the day 3 for 5 at the plate with one run and two RBIs. Standlee walked another batter but induced a ground out and pop fly to end the inning.
“My fastball command, cutter, slider – couldn’t get it called for a strike,” Standlee said. “You’ve got to have your fastball for that first pitch strike. It’s what we worked on all week.”
Simpson, the Cowboys’ starting catcher, backed up his pitcher in the bottom half of the inning. Morrill led off with a walk before Andrew Navigato struck out.
One batter later, Simpson drove a 1-0 pitch narrowly over the center field fence for his second home run in as many at-bats dating back to Saturday night. It gave Standlee and the Cowboys a 2-1 lead.
“I got a fastball and then he threw me another fastball, and I was on time with it,” Simpson said. “I ended up putting a good swing on it.”
Standlee settled down and found his groove for the next five innings. He left the game after throwing 93 pitches for four hits and one run. Standlee struck out five batters in a no decision outing.
Peyton Battenfield replaced him in the seventh inning and took the loss after allowing two hits and two earned runs. Ben Leeper finished the game – as he’s done successfully throughout the season – but he gave up two hits and one run.
OSU will play four games in Kansas this week. The first one is at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Wichita State. The Cowboys will play at weekend series against Kansas, beginning at 6 p.m. Friday in Lawrence, Kansas.