How long will it go?
That always seems to be the first question when a streak gets going. It was the question plenty of college baseball fans were asking this weekend as #8 Texas went to work at #14 Oklahoma State carrying a 14-game win streak in Stillwater.
The fans got their answer, as Texas’ streak was snapped at 16 consecutive games, but not before the Longhorns won the series, sweeping Saturday’s doubleheader before falling in Sunday’s series finale.
The series win propelled Texas to a #3 ranking in College Baseball Nation’s Top 50 rankings, while Oklahoma State fell to #19.
“It was a great job by our team, coming in here, playing with confidence, playing with energy,” Texas head coach David Pierce said on the radio following Saturday’s victories. “We had great defense all day.
“It’s tough to sweep a doubleheader. I don’t care who you’re playing, [if it’s] at home or on the road. So it’s a big doubleheader sweep for us.”
Oklahoma State head coach Josh Holliday, though disappointed his squad failed to win the series, was impressed by the level the Cowboys competed at, considering how hot Texas was entering the weekend.
“These are highly contested contests,” Holliday told the media following Sunday’s win. “These are not easy. It is not written down anywhere that we’re just going to win. You have to earn it. Some days it’s really hard to earn. It was a tough series.”
Playing in their first doubleheader of the season, pitching propelled the Longhorns to a 4-3 game one win on Saturday afternoon, as starter Ty Madden was prolific on the hill. He was untouchable for the first five innings, allowing just one hit, and ended all six innings of work with a strikeout, extending his streak to 11 straight innings.
Perhaps he faced the Cowboy lineup one too many times, or Oklahoma State’s offense just began to click, but in the sixth, the Cowboys used four hits and an error to push three runs across, cutting the deficit to one. Though the strongest bat in the lineup, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, struck out for the second out of the inning, other hitters stepped up, including Max Hewitt, who tripled with one out and scored Oklahoma State’s first run on a double from Jake Thompson.
That was as close as the Cowboys got, though, as Cole Quintanilla was called upon from the Longhorn bullpen. Entering the series with a minute ERA of 1.47, the right-hander fulfilled his duty, holding Oklahoma State at bay, and inducing a groundout from Encarnacion-Strand to end the game.
The bulk of Texas’ offense came early in the first, as the Longhorns built a 2-0 advantage. Leadoff hitter Mike Antico walked, moved to third on a double from Mitchell Daly, then displayed the aggressiveness mentioned leading up to the series, stealing home on a passed ball for the first run of the contest. Daly scored on a groundout five pitches later.
The man who hit that RBI groundout, added two more RBIs to his stat line in the third, as Zach Zubia connected on a 1-2 pitch and sent it over the right field wall, scoring Antico as well to extend the lead to 4-0.
The offense was critical in the nightcap of the doubleheader, a contest Texas won 5-2 to secure its 10th consecutive series victory.
Oklahoma State struck first, though, in an attempt to even the series at 1-1, using three hits and an error to push across the first run of the game in the second. The final play of the inning was one of the more unique plays in the contest, as Huesten Morrill hit a slow chopper to the third base side with runners on the corners. Texas had no play with the way the ball was hit, but third baseman Murphy Stehly tried to make the play anyway, and ended up firing the ball past the first base bag and into right field. Carson McCusker scored from third easily, and Cade Cabinness tried to add a second run on the play following the error, as he sprinted from first. A brilliant throw home from Texas right fielder Douglas Hodo III kept the score at 1-0 and ended the inning, however, as Cabiness was out by several feet on a play at the plate.
Hodo III followed up his critical play in right field by shining at the plate in the following inning, swatting a two-run homer in the fourth that put Texas in front 2-1. The Longhorns never looked back. Home runs from Antico and Ivan Melendez followed in the fifth and sixth inning, respectively.
Texas starter Tristian Stevens, and Oklahoma State starter Justin Campbell were dominant on the hill over the course of the first few frames, though neither had a stat line that was especially noteworthy.
Stevens tallied the victory, though his streak of three starts without allowing a walk was snapped, and he gave up seven hits and two earned runs to the Cowboys’ lethal offense.
Campbell accumulated his first loss of the season to move to 4-1 on the year, throwing five innings with five earned runs, five hits and three walks.
As good as Texas’ pitching was on Saturday, it lacked in Sunday’s contest, a 7-3 Oklahoma State win. It was quickly obvious how critical the Longhorn pitching staff was in the previous day’s doubleheader, and also the power behind Oklahoma State’s bats.
Texas starter Kolby Kubichek made it through just one inning of work, facing 10 batters and giving up three hits, three walks and four earned runs.
The Cowboys made a statement early at the plate, as Encarnacion-Strand, 1-for-8 on the series, homered in his first at-bat, sending a pitch over the left field wall to score two. That was just the beginning, as an RBI single from Nolan McLean made the score 3-0. A two-run homer off the bat of Jake Thompson followed in the second. Texas reliever Pete Hansen, facing his fourth batter of the day, made the same mistake Kubichek made, leaving pitches high in the zone that Oklahoma State hit hard.
The Cowboys added another two run homer from Morrill in the fifth, pretty much sealing the victory as the gap widened to five runs.
Texas did challenge the Oklahoma State bullpen in the final four innings, scoring one run in both the sixth and seventh. But it was not enough to overcome the early five-run deficit, as Oklahoma State secured the victory.
Perhaps the most impressive part of Oklahoma’s State’s victory was Brett Standlee. The right-hander had not started a game since 2019, but was pressed into action with Sunday starter Justin Wrobleski out due to injury. He had not thrown more than 2.1 innings all season, but fired six for the Cowboys Sunday, allowing just three hits and two earned runs with 10 strikeouts. He was not informed he would start until Saturday night, according to Holliday.
“Today was a wild card and Brett Standlee was the ace,” Holliday told reporters postgame. “He pitched one of the most courageous games I’ve seen in a long time just because of the nature of it, going from the bullpen, where he's been fantastic, to having to start with Justin and [Friday night starter] Parker [Scott] out.”
Texas plays Incarnate Word Tuesday before hosting #14 Texas Tech in Austin for a critical Big 12 series. Oklahoma State battles in-state rival Oklahoma next weekend in a unique series setup. Friday night’s contest is set to be played in Stillwater, and Saturday and Sunday’s games will take place in Norman.