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Elliott commands Cowboys in second straight Big 12 Tournament victory

OSU Baseball vs. Baylor Big 12 Tournament Thursday-1304.jpg

OSU pitcher Jensen Elliott pitches during the Oklahoma State vs. Baylor Big 12 Conference Baseball Championship game eight on Thursday, May 23, 2019, at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Jensen Elliott could anticipate the familiar swings.

He stood in a minor-league park instead of his home stadium, but he faced the same batters he saw during the past week.

This time, Elliott, a junior right-handed pitcher on the Oklahoma State baseball team, didn’t let any of them cross home plate.

Shortly after midnight Friday, the Cowboys cruised past Baylor 5-0 for their second straight Big 12 Tournament victory in Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. OSU defeated the Bears for the third time this season.

The third-seeded Cowboys will have a rematch with either second-seeded Baylor or sixth-seeded Texas Christian University at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

As the Cowboys’ starter and winning pitcher, Elliott allowed two hits, walked one batter and threw four strikeouts. When he pitched against the Bears on May 17 in OSU’s last regular-season game, he threw nine innings and surrendered four runs, though he earned the win.

“I kind of had a good approach going into the game because I got to see them last weekend,” Elliott said. “I knew that if I executed my game plan, I’d be successful; and tonight, I happened to do that, and my defense worked well behind me.”

Elliott, a former high school shortstop, didn’t limit his defensive skill to the pitcher’s mound. He quickly fielded the ball and made speedy throws to first baseman Alix Garcia to keep himself from giving up hits. In the fourth, Elliott caught two grounders, including one to end the inning.

“I consider myself an athlete, but some of the guys would probably say pitchers aren’t athletic,” Elliott said.

He allowed his first hit when Davis Wendzel singled through the left side in the fifth. Wendzel reached second on Carson McCusker’s throwing error, but Elliott’s defensive focus later eliminated danger. With a sharp throw to third baseman Christian Funk, Elliott tossed Wendzel out.

Steve Rodriguez, Baylor’s coach, complimented Elliott.

“He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes,” Rodriguez said. “He just doesn’t.”

Peyton Battenfield replaced Elliott in the seventh and continued the dominance.

“He was lights out tonight,” Elliott said.

The Cowboys (34-17) and Bears started with three scoreless innings. Jimmy Winston, Baylor’s starter, threw five strikeouts before the fourth, when OSU activated its bats. Trevor Boone, a junior center fielder, drilled a single to left-center field to put the Cowboys on the scoreboard. Colin Simpson and Andrew Navigato crossed home for Boone’s 49th and 50th RBIs this season.

In the sixth, Simpson smashed his 14th home run of the season to center field and allowed Christian Funk, who had drawn a walk, to score. Josh Holliday, the Cowboys’ coach, said the muggy air made hitting challenging, but Simpson overcame that.

McCusker added an RBI single in the sixth to give OSU its last run.

Although teams such as Baylor (34-16) have games approaching in the upcoming hours, the Cowboys will practice and rest for the remainder of Friday.

 “Going into this game today, I told everybody, I said, ‘We need to play for the off day,’” Simpson said. “…Being able to take the day off and recover and get all the energy back you need for the next two games of the weekend is huge.”