The No. 7 Red Raiders were defeated by the no. 14 Oklahoma State Cowboys at home on Friday night by a final score of 2-0. The loss snapped Tech’s streak of 14 wins in a row.
Tech's Friday night lineup:
1. Dru Baker (LF)
2. Jace Jung (2B)
3. Dylan Neuse (CF)
4. Nate Rombach (1B)
5. Cal Conley (SS)
6. Braxton Fulford (C)
7. Cole Stilwell (DH)
8. Kurt Wilson (RF)
9. Parker Kelly (3B)
Sophomore RHP Brandon Birdsell got the start for the Red Raiders. In four appearances and three starts heading into the contest, Birdsell had a 2-0 record to go along with a 4.60 ERA, according to Tech Athletics.
He would be opposed by junior Cowboy RHP Parker Scott, who had an impressive 3-1 record and 1.71 ERA heading into the contest.
Both starters pitched well out of the gate, as there was no score in the game after four full innings of play.
The Red Raiders had a prime opportunity to take the lead in the third inning, loading up the bases with only one out for switch hitting freshman shortstop Cal Conley.
Conley wound up grounding into a fielder's choice and junior catcher Braxton Fulford struck out next to end the inning.
After missing that opportunity, the Cowboys pounced in the top of the fifth inning. The Pokes scored two runs in the inning on an RBI-single and a throwing error. They lead 2-0 after five full innings of play.
Birdsell was eventually pulled from the game after 7.0 innings of work. He struck out nine batters on the day, allowed two hits, and allowed only one earned run in the game. His nine strikeouts on the day represented a career-high.
“Brandon was out Outstanding,” said coach Tadlock postgame. “Coach Gardner just said, you know, (he) probably had his best off speed stuff of the year (tonight). (He) commanded the ball, was very aggressive, and (just) pitched outstanding”.
Scott, likewise, was lights out for most of the Cowboys day. He too was pulled after 7.0 innings pitched, but Scott’s innings were all scoreless. Scott struck out nine batters and gave up six hits on the day. He retired 13 batters faced in a row between the third and seventh innings.
LHP Jamie Hitt started the eighth inning for Tech, but was replaced with RHP Levi Wells after giving up a leadoff single. Wells successfully closed out the inning for Tech, and the Red Raiders 1-2-3 hitter came up to bat down two in the bottom of the eighth.
After leadoff hitter and left fielder Dru Baker and second baseman Jace Jung both singled to start the eighth, the Red Raiders had the tying runs both on base when Parker Scott was finally pulled. That single was Baker’s third hit of the day.
Oklahoma State’s closer Brett Standlee came in to get them out of the jam.
Center fielder Dylan Neuse popped out for the second time of the day in a huge spot after Jung’s single, putting the first out on the board without advancing the runners. Neuse finished 0-4 on the day.
After a Nate Rombach strikeout and a Cal Conley walk, the bases were loaded with two outs for Braxton Fulford. Fulford was retired in only two pitches, and just like that the Cowboys had gotten out of the jam and taken back the momentum.
Wells pitched another scoreless inning in the top of the ninth. He finished with 2.0 scoreless innings on the day, striking out one along the way.
Tech’s 7-8-9 hitters came on to try and save the game in the ninth, but only one of them could even reach base against Standlee and the Red Raiders in the end fell. Standlee received the save for his efforts.
Even in the loss, Brandon Birdsell pitched his best game of the young season.
"(I’ve) just (been) trying to learn from everything and just keep moving forward,” said Birdsell on his continued improvement.
Tech’s 14 game win streak was snapped with the loss and their overall record fell to 14-4.
The next game of the series will take place Saturday at 2 p.m.
All games in the series will be streamed on ESPN.