OKLAHOMA CITY – Neither starting pitcher was giving up much at the plate, but Jensen Elliott’s teammates gave him enough run support to bring home a win Friday night.
The Oklahoma State junior right-handed pitcher was lights out once again for the Cowboys, as they disposed Harvard, 2-0, to advance in the winner’s bracket of the Oklahoma City Regional.
“It ended up being a pitchers’ duel at the end during the game,” Elliott said. “I don’t really focus on the other team, and how they are pitching against us. I kind of just stay in the corner of the dugout and focus on what I need to. … Their pitcher did a great job tonight, and hats off to him. We got a couple runs and that is all we needed tonight.”
Elliott threw seven innings and allowed three hits and one walk, earning his fifth win in as many starts during the month of May. He is 10-3 on the season after leading his Cowboys (37-18) to a postseason victory at the stadium where they won the Big 12 Conference Tournament less than a week ago.
“Once again, Jensen was fantastic,” OSU coach Josh Holliday said. “The pitches he made in the second inning, when those kids starting fouling pitches off and taking him to 3-2 counts, that was just a great example of athletes going head to head. Pitcher versus hitter was on display, and those kids did a great job, but Jensen was up to the task. He made the pitches and you saw the emotion flow out as he came off the eld in the seventh, making it clear that he had done his job.”
Harvard senior catcher Jake Allen faced Elliott twice with no hits, but he was able to drop a sacrifice bunt in his first at-bat. After the loss, he talked about what made Elliott so tough on the mound.
“We’ve definitely seen a guy like him before so it was a little frustrating, but it’s something we don’t see a whole lot in the Ivy League is command like that,” Allen said. “He was able to locate very well and he had a good mix of pitches. He did a great job and he beat us.”
After Elliott left the game, following two long at-bats in the seventh inning, junior Peyton Battenfield pitched the final two innings for OSU. Battenfield allowed only one hit – a leadoff double to begin the ninth inning during his outing.
Battenfield struck out four of the seven batters he faced in his two innings. Elliott joked about it after the game.
Harvard’s pitcher was solid, too. Hunter Bigge threw six innings and allowed six hits and two runs while walking none. Bigge also struck out nine Cowboys.
He kept the Crimson (27-15) in the game, but didn’t receive the run support needed to win the game. It was only his second loss of the season, to go along with seven wins.
The Cowboys’ run support came in two separate innings. In the bottom of the first inning, senior Christian Funk earned a one-out single before senior Colin Simpson ripped a double down the right-field line.
Andrew Navigato followed with an RBI groundout to put the Cowboys ahead 1-0. Simpson was left at third base, but the home team had the lead.
“I actually thought that the pitch I hit was a change up,” Simpson said. “It turned out that it was a fastball, so it turns out I might have been a little out front on a fastball.”
OSU scored its second run in the fourth inning. Navigato had the one-out single to start the offense. Junior Trevor Boone followed with one of his two hits. Navigato took third on Boone’s single, putting himself 90 feet from another run.
Two batters later, Bryce Carter was at the plate when a wild pitch allowed Navigato to trot in for the Cowboys’ second run.
That’s all OSU needed for the win and to advance in the winner’s bracket.
The Cowboys play Nebraska, who beat Connecticut 8-5 in the first game of the day in OKC, at 7 p.m. Saturday. Harvard will play Connecticut at 1 p.m. Saturday in an elimination contest.