FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Oklahoma State’s Corey Brown and Ty Wright each delivered key three-run home runs early and the Cowboys held on late to clinch a 7-6 win over Arkansas to win the NCAA Fayetteville Regional on Sunday night at Baum Stadium.
The Cowboys (41-19) completed an undefeated run through the regional (3-0) and punched their ticket to next weekend’s NCAA Super Regional against the winner of the Columbia, Mo., regional.
Arkansas (43-21) saw its season come to an end at the hands of Oklahoma State for the second-consecutive season.
Josh Fritsche (2-0) earned the win after coming on in relief of OSU starter Jeff Breedlove. Jordy Mercer came on to earn his third save of the season for the Cowboys. Stephen Richards (1-2) was tagged with the loss for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas dented the scoreboard first with two runs in the bottom half of the opening inning. Ben Tschepikow earned a one-out single and then advanced to second when Logan Forsythe was hit by a pitch. Following a strikeout, Jeff Nutt delivered a two-RBI single down the right field line to give the Razorbacks an early 2-0 lead.
Oklahoma State rallied to take the lead in the third inning plating three runs on a pair of hits. Jordy Mercer doubled to open the frame and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. Following a strikeout and a walk to Keanon Simon, OSU right fielder Corey Brown launched a three-run home run to put the Cowboys up 3-2.
The Hogs wrestled back the lead in the fourth inning. Singles from Danny Hamblin and Brian Walker set the table for Tim Smalling. Smalling brought home Walker with an RBI single and then moved up along with Walker on a throwing error by the center fielder. Dugger then lofted a fly ball to center field. OSU’s Simon made the catch, but his throw got away from catcher Ryan Flavell when he tripped. The error on the catcher allowed Walker to score to give Arkansas back the lead at 4-3.
Arkansas’ lead was short-lived however as Oklahoma State parlayed another long ball into three runs in the top of the fifth inning. OSU pinch hitter Steve Ptak earned a one-out single and advanced to second when Simon walked. Brown popped out for the second out of the inning before Arkansas went to the bullpen to bring on Evan Cox. Cox’s full-count offering to Jay Wright was crushed over the scoreboard in right center field for a three-run home run. The round-tripper vaulted the Cowboys back into the lead 6-4.
Oklahoma State added another tally in the sixth inning. Matt Mangini doubled to open the frame. He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Mercer to up the Cowboys’ lead to 7-4.
The Razorbacks mounted a rally in the bottom of the eighth to cut the lead to a single run. Hamblin reached on a throwing error with one out in the inning. After a popup for the second out, Walker scorched a double to the wall scoring Hamblin. Pinch hitter Jacob Julius then plated Walker with a single to centerfield closing the gap to 7-6. But Mercer retired Dugger to end the inning and the Cowboys preserved their one-run edge.
Casey Coon gave the Hogs hope with an infield single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. But Mercer fanned Nutt to end the game and clinch the regional title for Oklahoma State.
Arkansas pitcher Nick Schmidt and catcher Brian Walker earned spots on the All-NCAA Fayetteville Regional team. Oklahoma State first baseman Rebel Ridling was the regional most valuable player.