STILLWATER — The Oklahoma State baseball team was in a familiar spot Saturday, about to squander away another opportunity in a season marked by too many so-close losses.
Except this time, for a rare time, the Cowboys found a break.
Texas Tech right fielder Nick Hanslik, who had just been shifted over from left, misplayed Mark Ginther's line drive into a three-run triple that swung an eighth-inning deficit into a 5-2 win.
Before a huge Reynolds Stadium crowd bloated by fans who came over from the football spring finale, OSU rallied just when it looked to be reeling.
“Our kids keep competing, they don't give in,” said Cowboys coach Frank Anderson. “We haven't had everything go our way this season, but they like to play and they like to come out and practice.
“It was good to see them get rewarded right there, because we haven't had too many of those things happen for us.”
The Cowboys haven't made many things happen, either, carrying a .247 batting average into Saturday's game. They entered the weekend series having stranded 98 runners in 12 conference games.
And there they were again, trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth, after putting runners at first and third with nobody out, facing more failure.
Wes Jones led off with a double down the left-field line and Jarrett Higgins followed with a bunt single. Hunter Bailey's fly ball to left was too shallow to even attempt to score Jones. And after Robbie Rea was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Jared Womack popped out to second.
Ginther stepped in and quickly fell behind with two strikes, before drilling a shot at Hanslik, who initially came in two steps, then slipped when he tried to adjust to the rising liner, allowing the ball to go all the way to the wall and score three runs.
“I swung it pretty good right there,” Ginther said. “We haven't had a lot of breaks this year, it's good something kind of went our way. I hope it keeps going that way.”
If it sounds like the Cowboys were feeling snakebit, well, they were.
“We feel like we're like one hit away in every game,” said Saulyer Saxon, who followed Ginther's triple with a bunt single to make it 5-2. “It wears on you after a while. So it was good to have a big hit right there and get a big win. That's huge.”
After starting the Big 12 season 1-5, losing series at Missouri and Baylor, the Cowboys improved to 7-7 in league play (21-17 overall), moving into fourth place in the standings. Securing at least some traction, they can climb above .500 with a win over Tech in the series finale at 1 p.m. Sunday.
“You've just got to build on the wins you get,” Ginther said. “We're playing good ball right now. We're playing good defense and pitching great. We can hang with anybody, we know that. It's basically just closing people out.”
The Cowboys got good pitching again Saturday, with Vince Wheeland allowing two runs over 7 1/3 innings before reliever Chase Stevens followed with hitless relief over the final 1 2/3.
OSU managed two runs off Texas Tech starter and Edmond Santa Fe product Duke von Schamann, before finally breaking through against reliever Shane Broyles.
“Now that we're .500,” Saxon said, “maybe we can get on the downward slope and catch fire for the last month or so.”