I wrote a story about the McCurry brothers – Randy and Brendan – for today’s paper. You can read it here.By luck, and it was bad luck initially, they’re getting to play together for what figures to be one final season.
Both have played major roles in OSU’s so-far strong season, which continues this weekend with the much-anticipated Bedlam Series.
And both have done so in unexpected ways.
While Randy came to the Cowboys as a shortstop/pitcher, he’d fallen off the radar as an everyday position player after Tommy John surgery in his sophomore season.
Brendan, the team’s closer, didn’t even pitch during two years of junior college ball. It was in his background, dating back to his high school days, which is what led Cowboys pitching coach Rob Walton to perform some due diligence on the middle infield recruit. The result: Brendan becoming an integral part of the bullpen, with six saves and six wins.
Both brothers are an indication of how Josh Holliday has managed his roster, often thinking outside the box, to piece together a successful formula in his first season as head coach.
“I didn’t know who was going to be our shortstop to be honest with you,” Holliday said of his first impressions in the fall.”
Holliday said he had some input from those familiar with Randy – penciled for a pitching role – to at least give him a chance to hit. So Holliday considered him as a first baseman or designated hitter, yet wanted to limit the stress on his arm.
But when freshman shortstop Donnie Walton (Rob’s son) required minor knee surgery in the winter, Holliday went looking for other options. And the search led to McCurry.
“Randy started taking some grounders at short, caught everything clean and easy,” Holliday said. “So we’re kind of looking at ourselves thinking, ‘We didn’t go into this thing thinking this is how it would look, but right now…’”
And it still looks that way, with Randy seizing the opportunity and providing solid play at the position and at the plate.
“That’s the position I wanted to play when I came in here and it’s the position I got recruited to play,” Randy said. “So it’s a dream come true.”
Brendan might have been the starting second baseman – and he was early on – had the dominoes not fallen the way they did, with his brother taking over at short and Walton eventually shifting to second.
Still, the Cowboys found a way to utilize him.
“At the J.C. I went to (Howard J.C.), I didn’t pitch at all,” Brendan said. “I pitched in high school a little bit. I was a starter then. I guess Rob knew that I pitched a little bit.
“He said, ‘Hey, we’ll check you out on the mound.’”
Brendan isn’t the prototypical closer, although he’s embraced finishing games.
“I love closing,” he said. “But I can throw one, two, three, six innings if they need me to. I’m just doing what they ask me to.”