STILLWATER, Okla. – Baylor learned the hard way that the Pokes can really poke it.
Oklahoma State came into the day as the No. 10 team in the country in home runs. The 16th-ranked Cowboys elevated their way up that list on Thursday, crushing four longballs in a decisive 16-4 romp over No. 15 Baylor at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
It was a tough blow for Baylor (33-14, 14-7), which is in the running for a Big 12 championship. The Bears came into the day with a half-game lead over Texas Tech, which at press time was tied 1-1 with TCU after 11 innings on Thursday.
Oklahoma State (31-17 overall, 13-9 Big 12) had slugged 71 home runs as a team entering Thursday’s series opener, and the Cowboys showed Paul Dickens and the Bears why. They built a 5-0 lead through the first two innings without sending one over the fence. Then in the third, Bryce Carter walloped a solo home run for OSU’s first round-tripper of the game. A Cade Cabbiness triple and two walks later, Colin Simpson caught a fat one from Dickens and pummeled it deep over the left-field fence for a grand slam that extended the score to 10-0.
Both of those shots came with two outs. That would prove to be a trend in the game, as the Cowboys scored 11 of their runs with two down, and they were 6-of-15 (.400) in two-out hitting.
Oklahoma State scored 15 runs in the first five innings, as Baylor didn’t hold the Cowboys scoreless in an inning until the sixth. Dickens gave up 10 runs – including nine earned – in three innings in his worst start of the season. The left-hander’s ERA rose more than full point, from 3.25 to 4.32.
The 16 runs allowed by Baylor were the most the Bears had surrendered all season, surpassing the 13 they gave up to Texas Tech in that series finale.
Meanwhile, Baylor – which came in as one of the hottest-hitting teams in the country – couldn’t get much going against OSU right-hander Joe Lienhard. The Bears mustered only seven hits in six innings against Lienhard, and didn’t crack the scoreboard until the fifth, at which point they trailed 13-0.
In that fifth, the Bears got on the board thanks to consecutive RBI doubles from Nick Loftin and Richard Cunningham. Baylor added two more runs off Lienhard in the sixth, scoring on a wild pitch and an RBI single from freshman Ricky Martinez, who drew the start at third base with Davis Wendzel out with injury and backup Cole Weaver getting commissioned in the military.
Lienhard (3-1) picked up the win for OSU, and Dickens (4-2) suffered the loss for the Bears. Mitchell Stone pitched three scoreless innings to close the game for his first save of the year for the Cowboys.
Six different players had multi-hit outings for the Cowboys, with Christian Funk going 3-for-5 with three runs scored and McCusker going 3-for-5 with a double, two runs and three RBIs.
Loftin topped Baylor with a 3-for-5 night, including a pair of doubles.
Despite the ragged start to the series for Baylor, there is precedent for the door to the series win remaining open. In mid-April, OSU pulverized Kansas, 27-6, in a series opener in Lawrence, before suffering a pair of one-run losses to drop the series.
They’ll be back at it again at 6:35 p.m. Friday. Right-hander Jimmy Winston (5-1, 3.72) will draw the start for BU on the mound, while OSU will counter with right-hander Jensen Elliott (7-3, 3.84).