MORGANTOWN. W.Va. — Oklahoma State coach Josh Holliday felt his hitters didn’t have to beat Sean Carley so much as they had to outlast him.
That patience paid off.
Blanked for six innings by West Virginia’s big right-hander, the No. 18 Cowboys broke through for the tying run in the seventh and then battered the Mountaineers’ bullpen over the final two innings to prevail 9-2 Saturday, clinching the Big 12 series at Hawley Field.
“(Carley) was a very accomplished pitcher to this point in the season, and they rode him for 127 pitches,” Holliday said. “We took their best weapon and outlasted him until he fatigued.”
The game drew 2,143 fans, most of whom left disappointed after West Virginia (16-14, 2-5) lost its sixth consecutive game. For Oklahoma State (25-10, 7-4) the script followed that of Friday night’s victory, when the Cowboys broke open a scoreless game in the seventh against Harrison Musgrave to win 6-0.
Whereas Musgrave departed after throwing 129 pitches, OSU made Carley work just as hard over seven innings. The junior allowed eight hits, but it was three walks in his final inning that revealed Carley’s fatigue. One of those walks came to pinch-hitter Garrett Williams with the bases-loaded.
Though Carley ultimately escaped the inning tied at 1-1, his day was finished.
“When he (tired),” Holliday said, “we were very opportunistic with what followed.”
What followed was more futility from the West Virginia bullpen.
Corey Walter (0-4) commenced the collapse with a one-out walk to No. 9 hitter Craig McConaughy. After taking second on a passed ball, McConaughy raced home on Saulyer Saxon’s single to put OSU ahead 2-1.
Then Walter walked Donnie Walton before Tanner Krietemeier roped a single that right fielder Shaun Wood fielded aggressively. When Saxon slipped making a wide turn at third, Wood threw behind the runner and air-mailed a throw into the WVU dugout. Saxon and Walton scored on the two-base error and Krietemeier was awarded third.
Conor Costello followed with a sac-fly to center and Oklahoma State led 5-1.
The Cowboys made it a laugher in the ninth, scoring one run off Chad Donato and three more against Trevor Simms—the latter’s ERA climbing to 7.56. Walton’s two-out, three-run double into the left-field corner was the big blow.
Oklahoma State finished with 13 hits and West Virginia managed 12, including three each by Taylor Munden and Cam O’Brien. But the summation of the Mountaineers’ hits didn’t add up to much.
“The ball’s just not falling for us with two outs right now,” said coach Randy Mazey. “A lot of that has to do that we’ve been at the bottom of the lineup with two outs. That could flip at any time.”
WVU got to Cowboys starter Tyler Buffett in the third on Billy Fleming’s RBI single. There was a chance for more in the fifth, after singles by O’Brien and Munden and an intentional walk to Ryan McBroom loaded the bases. But Blake Battenfield (1-0) replaced Buffett and retired Jacob Rice on a grounder to first, beginning a 55-pitch relief stint that earned the right-hander his first win.
“Any time you get into a losing skid, it sucks,” said Carley. “It’s gut-check time. We’ve just got wash it and we’ve got to come out here confident (on Sunday).”
If West Virginia is to avoid a sweep, it must do so without No. 3 starter John Means, who left last weekend’s start at TCU with shoulder soreness.
“He won’t throw tomorrow,” Mazey said, before half-joking that “we have made a decision that we don’t know who’s starting. You’ll get to see five or six different Mountaineers on the mound. We’re just trying to find ‘that’ guy.”