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Cowboys fall to TCU, prepare to face Horned Frogs for third time in Big 12 Tournament

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OSU pitcher Joe Lienhard pitches during the Oklahoma State vs. TCU Big 12 Conference Baseball Championship semifinal game one on Saturday, May 25, 2019, at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Cade Cabbiness gave the Oklahoma State baseball team the spark of hope it needed, but the possibility of a comeback victory faded.

Cabbiness, a junior right fielder, drilled a grand slam over the left-field wall to tie the Cowboys with Texas Christian University. With the newfound momentum, OSU brought closer Ben Leeper out of the bullpen. If the Cowboys’ plan succeeded, they would hold the Horned Frogs back for the rest of the game and eliminate them from the Big 12 Tournament.

TCU refused to let OSU execute its mission. The Horned Frogs rolled past the Cowboys 13-6 Saturday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. With a victory, third-seeded OSU would have advanced to take on West Virginia or Texas Tech in the championship game. Instead, the Cowboys are forced to face sixth-seeded TCU for the third time in the tournament.

OSU and the Horned Frogs will compete in an elimination game after the fourth-seeded Mountaineers and top-seeded Red Raiders vie for a championship spot Saturday night.

The Cowboys (34-18) are in for a long night in Bricktown, especially if rain disrupts the scheduled games. Josh Holliday, OSU’s coach, took responsibility for the loss.

“We weren’t sharp,” Holliday said. “There (were) too many mistakes made. That’s on me as a coach. I didn’t have the kids as ready to play as I should’ve, and we’ll work on that; I'll work on that.”

Leeper, the losing pitcher, surrendered four runs in the eighth inning. Nate Peterson replaced him, but Zach Humphreys crossed home on a passed ball, adding the Horned Frogs’ fifth run in the eighth.

Although TCU (32-25) rocked OSU’s pitchers, Cabbiness’ turnaround provided a positive takeaway for Holliday. Entering this game, Cabbiness had one hit, along with six strikeouts, in the tournament. His seventh-inning grand slam against reliever Cal Coughlin erased the Cowboys' 6-2 deficit.

“It’s good because he had a really tough night two nights ago, and so he went to work on his game yesterday,” Holliday said. “…You want to see kids bounce back, and that’s part of growing.”

Cabbiness also brought OSU out of a hitting slump. To start the game, the Cowboys’ power hitters swung as usual, but they weren’t crushing the ball out of the park. They sliced their bats through the air and returned to the dugout with no reason to celebrate as Jared Janczak, TCU’s starter, maintained his dominance.

Janczak had a 6.28 ERA and a 0-3 record going into the game, but he undauntedly attacked the strike zone. He struck out the side in the first two innings. The first eight OSU batters struck out, seven of them swinging. At the end of the lineup, Cabbiness singled to left field in the third inning, but he was stranded on base when Hueston Morrill grounded out to first.

Colin Simpson, OSU’s senior designated hitter, ended Janczak’s shutout when he sent a solo home run over the center-field wall in the fourth inning, cutting TCU’s lead to 6-1.

The Cowboys struggled to find a pitching groove from the beginning. Starter Joe Lienhard gave up four runs, including three in the first inning.

“His command of the ball was not good,” Holliday said. “TCU’s a good team.”

OSU used seven pitchers, and four allowed two or more runs. Despite the loss, Holliday remained calm.

“You don’t overreact as a coach,” Holliday said. “You take the moments that are teachable, and you correct them.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com