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Notebook: Cowboys continue to struggle with strikeouts

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Colin Simpson (24) hits a home run during game 2 against Texas Tech during the NCAA Super Regional Tournament, at Rip Griffin Park, in Lubbock, TX on June 8, 2019.

Despite winning the second game of the Lubbock Super Regional, 6-5, and the Oklahoma State baseball team continues to struggle with putting the ball in play.

The Cowboys have been a homerun threat since day one. They are up to 90 home runs on the season and came into the Lubbock regional fifth in the nation in round-trippers.

While they have the ability to put the ball over the wall consistently, the Cowboys struggle with their boom-or-bust mentality.

The Cowboys average 10.6 strikeouts per game and have not improved as the postseason has progressed. The averaged 13 per game during the Big 12 championship game and the Oklahoma City regional.

That number has risen to 14.5 per game in the two games of the Lubbock super regional.

While they were able to come away successful on Saturday, the Cowboys will need to put balls in play and not strike out at a high rate if they plan on making a run at Super Regional victory and a national championship.

Pitching staff succeeds, falters in new ways.

Unlike Friday’s game, OSU got a dominant outing from it’s starting pitcher. Parker Scott threw six innings giving up two runs while striking out five Tech batters.

As the game went on, Parker, despite not having the high velocity of other pitchers, continued to keep the Red Raider hitters guessing.

Parker's outing was especially necessary due to the fact that OSU’s bullpen was coming off of four inning on Friday and he would be needed again once he left the game.

OSU’s coach Josh Holliday said he recognizes how impactful Parker’s start was on the result of the game.

“To (have an outing like that) on a warm afternoon, showed good stamina, great toughness, made some big pitches with key players at home plate at times that kept us in the game,” Holliday said. “I thought his outing was a huge step forward and definitely something we needed. As I saw, they're a very difficult team to get out in those late innings, and they're very hard to keep off the board, so his outing was no doubt a key in our victory.”

While OSU got a quality start following a poor one the day before, the opposite could be said about the bullpen.

Peyton Battenfield, Brady Basso, Joe Lienhard and Ben Leeper combined to pitch the final three innings for OSU.

Battenfield lasted one third of an inning while allowing a solo home run. Basso came in to finish the inning to keep Tech down one run.

The following inning, Lienhard gave up three hits, a walk and one run. Leeper came in to clean up the inning and struck out the final battle of the inning.

In the top of the ninth with a chance to come away with a save, Leeper allowed the game-tying run. Leeper eventually came away with the win following Noah Sifrit coming home off of a wild pitch.

While his bullpen may have struggled at points, Holliday chose to look at the bright spots of the appearances.

“I don't think they were rough outings,” Holliday said. “Peyton has been unbelievably good, he's been dynamite. Basso came in and done his thing. Joe left the ball up once or twice, but he will bounce back. He pitched remarkably well last week, and I thought Ben threw great. I think those kids are all in a good state of mind. They will be ready to go tomorrow. When you are pitching with the game on the line, there is some pressure attached to that, and that's okay, but I thought those kids threw the ball well. And, again,they're facing some kids that are pretty gifted with the bat. You've got to keep believing in them and pitching with the game on the line, that's a tough job.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com