OKLAHOMA CITY — When Oklahoma State left Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark early Friday morning, it was a hot baseball team, riding a five-game winning streak into a day off.
Saturday was a new day at the Big 12 Tournament. The Cowboys (34-18) tumbled into an elimination scenario after falling 13-6 to TCU.
West Virginia defeated Texas Tech Saturday night, sending the Mountaineers to Sunday’s title game.
With severe weather in the forecast for late Saturday, the OSU-TCU rematch was rescheduled for 9 a.m. Sunday. The winner of that game will face West Virginia at 1 p.m. in the championship game.
“We’ve been playing really well. This is one game,” OSU coach Josh Holliday said. “You don’t get too caught up in it. You don’t overreact as a coach. To the kids’ credit, they don’t overreact, either.”
Even when there aren’t thunderstorms in the area, a huge cloud hangs over the Big 12 Tournament because the NCAA Tournament starts in less than a week. That weighed in nearly every managerial decision Holliday made Saturday.
The Cowboys started the day at No. 6 in the Rating Percentage Index. No matter the outcome in Oklahoma City, they’ll likely be a regional host — and possibly a national seed — when the sites are announced.
“You play this tournament to win it. You play it the right way, and you play it aggressively,” Holliday said. “But you also know there are some years that you come into this and you have to win. Other years, you’ve put yourself in a position where you’re not gonna do anything, physically, to jeopardize your opportunities one week from today when you’re trying to extend your season. You have to have a good mindset.”
The Cowboys, who did not trail in wins over the Horned Frogs and Baylor to start the tournament, fell behind early on Saturday and never recovered.
The Horned Frogs (32-25) amassed 18 hits and feasted on a dwindling OSU pitching staff. It used seven pitchers to get through the game and save some arms.
Josh Watson went 4-for-6 with three RBIs for TCU. Zach Humphrey was 4-for-5 with five RBIs. The damage they inflicted started early.
OSU trailed 3-0 before any Cowboy put on a batting helmet. Humphrey’s double down the left-field line put the Horned Frogs up 3-0 in the top of the first inning. The lead swelled to six runs after Watson two-run homer in the fourth.
They awoke from their day-off slumber midway through. Colin Simpson hit a solo homer in the bottom of the fourth inning and Trevor Boone narrowed the gap with an RBI single in the fifth.
The Cowboys escaped the hole the after the seventh-inning stretch. Cade Cabbiness belted a grand slam to knot the game at 6 all.
TCU responded, however, with five runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth, forcing the late game Saturday.
The Cowboys headed back to their hotel to shower up and eat a quick meal. They were in for a late night at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. What that yields is up to them, TCU and how much gas they want to take out of the tank before the NCAA Tournament begins.
“This is great training for next weekend,” Holliday said. “Doubleheaders are a possibility in a regional setting. The guys are not physically tired. They might be mentality tired. We just have to get them recharged.”
TCU 13, Oklahoma State 6
TCU 301 200 052 — 13 18 2
OSU 000 101 400 — 6 9 2
Janczak, Mihlbauer (7), Coughlin (7), Green (7) and Humphreys; Linehard, Varela (3), Sifrit (4), Stone (7), Leeper (8), Peterson (8), Kelly (9) and Carter, Taylor. W: Green (5-1). L: Leeper (3-3). HR: TCU, Watson (10); OSU, Simpson (15), Cabbiness (6).