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Oklahoma State Baseball

Cowboys May Have to Gut Out the Rest of the Season and an NCAA Berth

May 3, 2021
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STILLWATER – The chances are pretty good that Oklahoma State will drop out of most, if not all, of the top-25 rankings in college baseball. The most important metric is one the Cowboys have hung on with in the top 25. The latest NCAA D-1 Baseball RPI was out on Monday morning and the Cowboys fell from 15-to-24 after losing two out of three to Oklahoma in Bedlam this past weekend. Oklahoma started the weekend at 95 in the RPI and they rose up to 72, a monster move of 23 spots, which lets you know the value of beating the Cowboys two-out-of-three. Cowboys head coach Josh Holliday is seeing his team come apart with injuries. Holliday won’t discuss it because he’s always going to stay positive, but several key injuries added this weekend are going to hurt the Pokes even further. The hope is a road trip after final exams conclude this week might turn things around.

Kansas is 4-11 in the Big 12 standings and in last place, but the Jayhawks did salvage a win in their series with league leader TCU. Also, the Cowboys haven’t won a series in Lawrence since 2007.

Pat Kinnison - Chief Photographer
Josh Holliday is a never say die coach.

“They got us Saturday in a close game and that was a punch in the gut,” Holliday said after the clutch extra innings 8-7 win on Sunday night. “We talked about coming back and being willing to respond late in the game and the kids did just that. (I) couldn’t be more proud of how we rallied around Brett when he had to come out of the game early. Just a gritty tough game on the offensive side and Brock Mathis came through for us late.”

Yes, Standlee came out of the game after pitching two innings and the early season closer was struggling. It was Standlee that started the third game against Texas and helped the Cowboys gut out a 7-3 win to avoid losing three to the Longhorns. He pitched six innings with the wind blowing in at O’Brate Stadium and gave up just three hits and two runs while striking out 10 Longhorns.

Now the report is Standlee has a similar injury to Cowboys Friday night starter Parker Scott. There is no report on when Scott will return. Another weekend starting pitcher Justin Wrobleski has arm trouble and he is out.

Add this up:

Injured Pitcher Record ERA Status
Parker Scott 6-1 2.20 Out Indefinitely
Justin Wrobleski 3-2 4.20 Out Indefinitely
Brett Standlee 4-1 (3 saves) 3.46 Still being examined

You can add to that list with freshman Nolan McLean, who has a back injury and is also out indefinitely. McLean has hardly pitched but was rumored to be up for closer duty if Standlee had to become a full-time starting pitcher. Not to mention that McLean can play outfield, first base, and second base. He is hitting .262 with 10 doubles, seven home runs, and 18 RBI.

Going back to the beginning of the season Carson McCusker missed the first month, shortstop Hueston Morrill missed several weeks, and Cade Cabbiness missed the Big 12 opening series in Lubbock where the Cowboys won the opener and lost the next two. A key play in one of the losses was a misplayed ball in right field that led to the winning run. Cabbiness is one of the best defensive right fielders in college baseball.

Holliday talked about toughness and resolve and those characteristics will need to stay with his team throughout the rest of the season.

Bruce Waterfield/OSU Athletics
Kale Davis was fired up at the finish in Norman.

“That kid of performance is a career turning performance,” Holliday said of the way winning pitcher Kale Davis threw in relief. “That is the kind of performance he will take with him and he will be tough to beat moving forward.”

Holliday needs that out of all of his players. 

No excuse, just reality that this season has been sabotaged by injuries. Still Oklahoma State is 25-14-1 overall and 8-10 in the Big 12. Nine of the Cowboys 14 losses have been to top 10-ranked teams and their schedule is rated ninth in the nation. That is why the RPI is so high.

Okay, in this first season of sparkling new O’Brate Stadium the Cowboys are highly unlikely to host any NCAA tournament play. The decision will be out after next weekend and even a sweep at Kansas can’t propel the Pokes into that role. The focus needs to be to win enough with Kansas and Baylor left in conference and a single game with Oklahoma and a three-game series with New Orleans (148 RPI) left. The Big 12 Tournament will follow that.

The Cowboys need to win to make sure they get to play in the show.

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Cowboys May Have to Gut Out the Rest of the Season and an NCAA Berth

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