After Oklahoma State pitcher Mark Robinette got pulled after one inning against Oral Roberts on May 13, he knew something had to change.
Robinette was struggling with his command — he walked three batters in that inning. His velocity was down — he wasn’t pitching at the same level that made him an All-Big 12 honorable mention pick in 2013.
So he had multiple talks with OSU coach Josh Holliday and pitching coach Rob Walton. The message they gave Robinette was clear: He needed to figure it out because the Cowboys needed him.
Saturday in the Big 12 Baseball Championship against Texas, that prophecy proved true. With the bullpen worn thin, Robinette threw three innings of shutout relief to earn the win in OSU’s 6-4 comeback victory.
“Rob really took me aside and adjusted some things maybe to be more deceptive, maybe a turn in my delivery or something like that,” Robinette said. “Try to work on top of the ball, get a title different angle on the ball. I think it's really made a difference.
“I just had to buy in on it. Some guys would just kind of turn their cheek, I haven't been doing that my whole life, why do I need to do it now?”
Holliday said Robinette is a prime example of the resiliency that has allowed OSU to come from behind to win 27 times this season.
“I can't stress enough that when you prepare hard and when you put your time in, when the opportunity presents itself, you have a chance to be successful,” Holliday said. “That's what happened for Mark tonight.”
HOLLIDAY KEEPING BIGGER GOALS IN MIND
Don’t expect to see names such as Jon Perrin or Tyler Buffet on the mound in Sunday’s Big 12 championship game against TCU at 4:30 p.m.
After taking the loser’s bracket route to the championship game, the Cowboys are hurting for pitching, and Holliday has no plans to risk his top options on short rest.
Instead, he said he plans to rely on less experienced pitchers and save the big names for what lies ahead — the Cowboys will host an NCAA regional and might be one of eight national seeds.
“You can’t get caught in the moment and get foolish,” he said. “I’m not a fool. These kids mean too much to us. We’re going to go out and play hard, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a 14-and-under Little League tournament where you get a trophy. This is about young men and a team that has aspirations of playing high-level baseball for some time to come.”
FISH SITS OUT, CASE STEPS UP
Zach Fish, OSU’s top hitter and Big 12 Player of the Year, did not play Saturday after rolling his right ankle on a slide Friday night.
Holliday said Fish’s status is still uncertain.
“We're optimistic that he'll be able to help us here but whether it's tomorrow or next week, I don't know yet,” Holliday said.
Fish’s absence meant shuffling the lineup and opened the door for other players, namely catcher Bryan Case. Case went 2-for-4 with a home run in OSU’s second game Sunday.
“What a huge, huge shot in the arm that young man's been,” Holliday said. “He played early, he took a backup role in the middle of the year and lately, he's been a huge part of our success, outstanding on defense. That kid caught 17 innings today and blocked a ton of balls. He did one heck of a job.”
TEXAS PEAKING AT THE RIGHT TIME?
Texas’ run at a Big 12 Tournament title fell short, but coach Augie Garrido said he believes his team still has a shot at the College World Series.
The Longhorns are 38-18 and are the RPI No. 7 team in the country. After strong play down the stretch and in Big 12 Tournament, the Longhorns might be getting hot at the right time. Garrido said losing to OSU could end up being a positive.
“It’s a whole new ballgame, and I think this tournament is going to help us a lot,” Garrido said. “That was painful tonight, but we battled our (butt) off. I feel very good from that point of view. I think we have a much stronger team today than when we started this thing. So far this team has shown the resiliency to bounce back from this.”