STILLWATER, Okla. — Designated hitter Chase Illig smashed the go-ahead grand slam and West Virginia’s bullpen hung on as No. 23 Oklahoma State tried to rally late in a series-clinching 9-8 win on Sunday.
The Mountaineers climbed to 15-10 overall and 4-2 in the Big 12, winning the series after dropping Friday’s opener.
Collin Simpson homered twice for Oklahoma State, which nearly overcame a six-run deficit before falling to 16-11 and 1-5 in the league.
After Conner Dotson injured himself during warmups, WVU freshman Kade Strowd stepped in for his first career start, pitching 4 1/3 innings and allowing two runs on two hits and five walks.
Freshman reliever Ryan McDonald (1-0) claimed his first career win, despite allowing four runs on four hits over 3 1/3 innings.
“When you have an injury, other people have to step up,” Mountaineers coach Randy Mazey said. “Chase Illig has done really well filling in the last week, and today two more freshmen, Kade Strowd and Ryan McDonald, go out there and win a game on the road in the Big 12. This weekend was littered with freshmen doing really well in roles they’re not accustomed to.”
Braden Zarnisky allowed Garrett Benge’s two-run home in the ninth but took his first save after inducing a pop up from Simpson.
“Proud of the way we fought back — just came up a little short,” said Cowboys coach Josh Holliday. “We got the tying run to the plate in the ninth and had the right guy up there.
“After winning Friday night we really wanted to win this series at home. It was close yesterday and close again today.”
The Mountaineers took a 1-0 lead in the second on Jimmy Galusky’s double down the left-field line. The hit scored Illig from first, who drew a two-out walk.
Oklahoma State responded with Dustin Williams’s two-run homer in the second.
Illig’s grand slam, his third home run of the season, put the Mountaineers ahead 6-2 in the third and chased Cowboys starter Blake Battenfield (2-2)
West Virginia made it 7-2 on Jackson Cramer’s RBI ground out in the seventh before Simpson homered to lead off the bottom half.
The Mountaineers made it 9-3 in the eighth on an RBI triple by Ivan Gonzalez and Cramer’s follow-up single.
McDonald encountered trouble in the eighth as Oklahoma State answered with three runs before Jackson Sigman got the final out.