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Oklahoma State baseball falls flat vs Florida to end season shy of NCAA super regionals

STILLWATER — For the third straight season, Oklahoma State's baseball season ended in a home NCAA regional.

OSU couldn’t muster enough offense and lost, 4-2, to Florida in a Monday matinee elimination game at O’Brate Stadium. The Cowboys and Gators faced off for the second consecutive night, and a win in either would have advanced OSU to a super regional for the first time since 2019.

Instead, some of the same problems from Sunday night resurfaced Monday, and Florida is headed to the Clemson super regional while OSU’s super-regional drought continues.

“We’re disappointed with the result of today’s game,” OSU coach Josh Holliday said. “Tough pill to swallow.”

A night after recording six hits, the Cowboys had only five hits and batted .167. And with runners in scoring position, they went 1 for 8.

“That’s disappointing that we couldn’t finish this part of the journey,” Holliday said. “We’re hurting inside. If the kids took their shirts off right now, you’d see the pain of the reality that something special just ended.”

OSU infielders Lane Forsythe (6) and Aidan Meola (2) embrace after the Cowboys lost to Florida in the NCAA baseball regional finals Monday at O'Brate Stadium in Stillwater.
OSU infielders Lane Forsythe (6) and Aidan Meola (2) embrace after the Cowboys lost to Florida in the NCAA baseball regional finals Monday at O'Brate Stadium in Stillwater.

Missed chances in the fifth for OSU

The afternoon crowd in O’Brate Stadium never got any louder than it did after the first three at-bats of the fifth inning, and the Cowboys wouldn’t get a better opportunity to dig out of a hole in an elimination game.

Third baseman Tyler Wulfert led off with a single to center field, shortstop Lane Forsythe took a walk, then right fielder Carson Benge singled up the middle to load the bases with no outs and OSU trailing, 3-1. Home run leader Nolan Schubart was up next and the reliable Zac Ehrhard on deck. An ideal spot to turn things around.

“The biggest at-bat was probably Schubart. Bases loaded,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Then Ehrhard, who’s batting probably around .500 against left-handed pitching.”

Schubart popped up a foul ball that Gator catcher Luke Heyman reeled in. Ehrhard hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Wulfert, but that was all the Cowboys got.

The next at-bat, designated hitter Aidan Meola took an empty swing for his third strike to end the once-promising inning and tapped his helmet with his bat in frustration.

“We weren’t able to put the type of attack today that I envisioned us bringing to the table,” Holliday said. “They did a nice job of navigating their way through some jams where we had some runners on base and kept us at bay.”

Jun 3, 2024; Stillwater, OK, USA; The Florida team celebrates after a NCAA regional baseball game against Oklahoma State at O'Brate Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Alcala-The Oklahoman
Jun 3, 2024; Stillwater, OK, USA; The Florida team celebrates after a NCAA regional baseball game against Oklahoma State at O'Brate Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Alcala-The Oklahoman

OSU’s pitching good enough to give Cowboys a chance

Although the OSU offense never found its roll, the pitching staff didn’t allow Florida much of any consistent offense, either.

Tommy Molsky made his second start of the season – the other coming against Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game – and held the Gators scoreless through the first two innings.

Florida’s only consistent stretch of offense came in the third inning, when Molsky hit two Gators and gave up a pair of hits for a 2-0 Florida lead.

Molsky was pulled after the third, and Evan O’Toole, Ryan Ure and Robert Cranz were serviceable in relief. They gave up five hits and two runs over the final five innings and gave the OSU offense a chance to find a spark and get back in the game.

Only Jac Caglianone, Florida’s home-run leader who boasts a .407 batting average, had multiple hits (2) for the Gators.

“I think we woke up this morning and put it together,” Holliday said. “That was a little bit how the pieces fit, and we put ourselves in position for sure.”

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Oklahoma State baseball falls flat vs Florida in NCAA regional final