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Tenacious hitters, focused defense carry OSU past TCU to start Big 12 Tournament

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Trevor Boone bats during game 4 against TCU during the Big 12 Championship Tournament, at the Bricktown Ballpark, in Oklahoma City, OK, on May 22, 2019.

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The wind ruffled the flags behind the outfield and carried the baseball above the fence as the scattered fans in Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark roared.

After corralling the Oklahoma State baseball team with tricky, precise throws in the strike zone, Nick Lodolo could no longer hold back his opponent.

Trevor Boone, a junior center fielder on the Oklahoma State baseball team, launched a lofty home run to left-center field. The Cowboys in the bullpen raised their arms when the ball soared over them, extending the lead OSU had recently built.

With a boost from the Oklahoma wind, OSU powered past Texas Christian University 5-2 late Wednesday night to start Big 12 Tournament play. The third-seeded Cowboys will face second-seeded Baylor at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Boone’s two-RBI sixth-inning moonshot was his 19th home run of the season. He has the most home runs of any Cowboy since Corey Brown hit 22 in 2007.

“We’re just trying to put a ball in the air, knowing the wind’s gonna help us out,” Boone said.

OSU and sixth-seeded TCU entered the decisive inning tied at 1. Lodolo, the Horned Frogs’ starter, struck out the side in the third and fourth, and he threw two strikeouts in the fifth. Then the Cowboys (33-17) disrupted his consistency at the plate.

Cade Cabbiness, a junior right fielder, led off in the sixth with a hit toward shortstop Adam Oviedo. Cabbiness raced toward first base and barely beat the throw. After moving to second when freshman Hueston Morrill drew a walk, Cabbiness scored on Andrew Navigato’s double to left-center.

Morrill soon followed when Colin Simpson, a senior catcher, sent a sacrifice fly to right field and gave the Cowboys a 3-1 lead. With two outs, Boone approached the plate and provided OSU with more safety.

“(Lodolo) kind of got into a little bit of a pattern as the game went on and kind of started throwing to the same sequences, to the same hitters,” Simpson said. “I think we kind of started figuring out what his pattern was, and I think that’s what we got on to.”

Although the Cowboys discovered how to handle Lodolo, OSU starter Parker Scott allowed TCU to drive in only one run. Scott (3-1), a left-handed sophomore, tossed four strikeouts and walked one batter.

After Simpson lobbed the ball over the left-field fence to take a 1-0 lead in the second inning, TCU designated hitter Hunter Wolfe responded with a third-inning home run against Scott. Lodolo and Scott engaged in a pitching duel in the fourth and fifth innings, refusing to surrender runs.

Logan Gragg replaced Scott to start the seventh, and Ben Leeper pitched in the ninth. OSU’s infielders and outfielders supported the pitchers and denied TCU (29-25) of opportunities. In the first inning, Boone made a sliding catch at center field.

The Cowboys acknowledged their focused defense and powerful hits, but coach Josh Holliday recognized those aren’t the only reasons they are happy about the victory.

 “The greatest excitement in them that they won tonight is that they do not have to wake up and play at 12 o’clock tomorrow,” Holliday said. “And sometimes you just celebrate some of those small subtleties. This is the time of year for them when it’s fun.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com