By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
Here’s a closer look at the Cowboys’ series win at #21 New Mexico this weekend:
Friday – OSU 4-2
Saturday – OSU 15-14 (13 innings)
Sunday – New Mexico 9-1
Series storyline – Saturday’s swing game
Friday’s opener was a conventional game, won by OSU. Sunday’s finale was an end-to-end blowout, controlled by New Mexico. But in between, in the game this series hinged on, we saw a wild back-and-forth shootout, filled with big deficits and even bigger comebacks: 13 innings, 29 combined runs, a five-run OSU lead in the first inning, an eight-run New Mexico lead in the ninth and plenty of drama. The Cowboys would eventually win the game and series, rallying for four runs in both the eighth and ninth before winning it in the 13th.
“It was certainly a perfect win with an imperfect lead up,” Josh Holliday would say postgame. ”We just kept fighting, and I really, really like that about this group.”
RF Zach Fish - The bulky power hitter combined for a team-high five hits in the Pokes’ two wins, including a key two-run homer and clutch two-run double in the Saturday shootout. Great early-season sign for the Cowboys, who desperately need his kind of pop consistently producing in the middle of their order.
RHP Jason Hursh - Gave OSU the kind of Friday start it got used to last season, with Andrew Heaney toeing the rubber to start each series. Hursh, 15 months removed from Tommy John surgery, threw a career-long six innings, giving up two runs and striking out five. He didn’t get the win, but was a key reason they eventually got the victory.
Hursh was good. But after him, neither of the OSU’s other two starters made it to the third inning. Kenton Bevacqua got lit up for seven runs in two innings Saturday, while Phillip Wilson got pulled after giving up five in the first on Sunday. There’s plenty of different starting options for Josh Holliday to tinker with. And he will, including projected two-starter Tyler Nurdin, who missed the weekend with some lingering arm issues. But the lack of reliable pitching depth has to be a pressing concern.
Other key contributors
1B/RHP Randy McCurry – Probably the team’s MVP this past weekend. He had two hits and three RBIs in Friday’s win and pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings to close out Saturday’s victory. Versatile and effective.
CF Jarrett Higgins – His lone hit on Saturday was a big one, bringing in the game-winning run with a 13th-inning single up the middle.
Stat of the weekend
OSU had two road wins over ranked teams all of last season. They’ve matched that three days into the 2013 campaign.
Oh, just your typical 26-game homestand, stretching from mid-February to the end of March. Wait, what? No, seriously. Take a look yourself. OSU doesn’t go back on the road until three series into conference play. The ridiculous stretch, and Josh Holliday’s home debut, starts Tuesday against Alcorn State.