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Oklahoma State Baseball

Florida's Momentum Home Runs Sunday and Monday End Oklahoma State's Season

June 3, 2024

STILLWATER – For Oklahoma State the same scenario for the second week in a row as the Cowboys found themselves down to one game for all the marbles. The only difference was when the Cowboys trounced rival Oklahoma in Arlington, they knew there would be a tomorrow. They were going to be in a regional. Now, at home in the confines of O’Brate Stadium where they were 23-6 this season they were playing for a trip to Clemson, S.C. and the final step to Omaha.

The home run hitting Cowboys in their yard with their fans. However, for all the 118 home runs the Cowboys hit this season, most in O’Brate Stadium it was two home runs by Florida that put the Pokes season to summer pasture.

Sunday night it was shortstop Colby Shelton with his bomb that quieted the home crowd as the Gators went on to a 5-2 win to force the if-necessary game at 2 p.m. on Monday. 

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Shelnut crosses the plate.

The Gators led the 3-2 in the sixth inning, but the lead felt a lot more secure for Florida and the season starting to set for the Cowboys when Tyler Shelnut led off the sixth taking a Robert Cranz pitch and crushing it into the batting cages stored in left-center field. Leftfielder Nolan Schubart turned but he didn’t run. Schubart has hit those enough that he knew it was gone. Florida led 4-2. That would be the final score as there was only one hit after that, a single in the seventh by the Gators. 

“It did,” Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said when asked if the home run by Shelnut felt as momentous as the round tripper by Shelby on Sunday, “There was so much uncertainty with our pitching coming in.”

Oklahoma State’s season ends 42-19 while the 32-28 Florida Gators head home and re-pack for an NCAA Super Regional next weekend at Clemson. The Cowboys had two runs on five hits and Tommy Molsky gets the loss (6-3). Florida had four runs on eight hits and the winner was Frank Menendez, his first decision of the season. 

“You see all the emotion from Oklahoma State’s players and I saw Josh (Holliday) in the hallway and Josh and I go back a long way. It is just gut wrenching because we all experience that,” O’Sullivan opened with his statement. “One part of you is really excited for our team and the other part is thinking about Oklahoma State. They had a terrific season and a terrific team, and it was a really hard fought regional.

“The tournament was so well organized, and everybody was so gracious all weekend,” O’Sullivan continued. “The facility is beautiful. Like I said, I’m happy for our team, but I do feel for Oklahoma State.” 

Florida struck first in the bottom of the third inning. Molsky had thrown relatively well in the first two frames, but he started the inning by hitting the Gators nine-hole hitter Michael Robertson on a 2-2 pitch. After lead-off hitter Cade Kurland flew out to deep centerfield, The big bopper for Florida first baseman Jac Caglianone crushed three foul balls to get everybody’s attention. He hit one line drive curving down the third base line onto the concourse where it nearly caught a fan coming out of the women’s bathroom. That is an eye opener! So was Caglianone’s line drive bullet that hit the top of the wall in right-center.  Florida had runners on at second and third. The play was reviewed because the umpires thought a fan with a glove might have touched it, but video showed conclusively he did not. Third review in the regional for fan interference, all involving Oklahoma State and Florida. 

The next hitter right fielder Ashton Wilson found green in right-center for a single and that drove in Robertson and Caglianone for the first two runs of the game. The messy inning continued when Luke Heyman was hit by Molsky, the second hit-by-pitch of the inning, but Tyler Shelnut struck out looking to end the frame and Florida led 2-0. 

The Cowboys answered in the top of the fourth as Nolan Schubart led off with a solid single to right field. Zach Ehrhard hit a screamer groundball to third baseman Dale Thomas who did a nice job to field it and throw to second for the force on Schubart. The next hitter was DH Aidan Meola smashed the ball to the wall in left for a double scoring the fleet Ehrhard from first to make it 2-1 and chase the Gators starter Jake Clemente. 

The drama continued in the bottom of the fourth as Florida up the lead to 3-1 when the slick glove third baseman Dale Thomas singled to right-center to open the Gators fourth and he scored a batter later when nine-hole hitter Michael Robinson came through on a full count with a single to left off Cowboys second pitcher of the game Evan O’Toole. 

The Cowboys countered in the fifth with Tyler Wulfert’s single to right-center. Lane Forsythe walked as the line-up turned over. Then Carson Benge slapped the first pitch in his at bat hard to the Gators pitcher Frank Menendez and the ball ricochet over to the shortstop Shelton, who couldn’t’ do anything with it. Now a dream scenario for OSU fans, bases loaded, no outs, and Nolan Schubart at the plate. It fizzled as on the second pitch Schubart fouled out to the catcher. Zach Ehrhard worked a full count and then hit a healthy fly ball to left for a sacrifice scoring Wulfert on the tag from third. Aiden Meola worked a full count and struck out swinging to end the excitement. Not enough production with the bases loaded.

“Not enough,” Holliday said. “it is a two part deal and part of it is your ability to maximize and create and then part of it is to win the resistance (from Florida) to that moment and we didn’t quite win those battles. You can point to that and it is something that you look at. I’m proud of our kids. They fought like heck and maybe we weren’t quite as effective as we needed to be in those situations.”

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Molsky gave Cowboys a good start. 

Holliday said the pitching plan worked well and they wanted to get from starter Tommy Molsky to Robert Cranz and they did. The Pokes just didn’t get the run production.

Just one hit the last three innings and the Cowboys bats were silent, after the strikeout to end the game by Tyler Wulfert the Oklahoma State fans were silent. What turned out to be a good crowd that kept growing after a weird Monday 2 p.m. start time was good, but the end was tough and the only sounds were those of Florida and their fans. 

Josh Holliday said little to his team. His strategy was wait until tomorrow when they might be more receptive to the message of what a special season this was. 

“If the kids took their shirts off right now you would see pain of losing something special and that is a hard thing to put into words especially 15 minutes after it happened,” Holliday said as to why he will wait and sum up the season with his team when they meet on Tuesday. “This can’t be the one thing they remember. We’re chasing championships and you have to keep pushing forward.”

Discussion from...

Florida's Momentum Home Runs Sunday and Monday End Oklahoma State's Season

2,039 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 1 mo ago by RowdyRawhide
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This was hard to watch. Both losses were similar in that we stranded so many base runners. I won't name players, but a few in the bottom half of the order had countless opportunities that could have won either game with a timely hit, and worse, they looked like they had no chance with really poor at bats. Finally, we have enough arms behind 2 solid starters and the bats and some poor fielding do us in. I do feel bad for Josh and the team because I do think we were better team that FL but not the past 48 hours when it counted.
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Cowboys had a very good season. Big 12 Tournament Title is a great accomplishment.

Pitching was solid throughout the regional. We have a lot of good hitters.

I agree with you that plate discipline needs improvement. Gator coaching staff noted our

hitter's weaknesses during their 7-1 loss on Saturday. Gator pitchers served up a number of "sucker" pitches

Sunday and Monday that looked like strikes that were balls.

Hosting a regional is a positive for the team and the school. Gotta keep the heads up and get better;
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