LMU (2-2) at #15 Oklahoma State (2-2)
Sat., Feb. 25 (DH) • 1 p.m. & 5:30 p.m. / Sun., Feb. 26 • 1 p.m.
O'Brate Stadium (8,000) • Stillwater, Okla.
Video/TV: okstate.com/watch/ (Sat.)
Big 12 Now on ESPN+ (Sun.)
(Dave Hunziker & Tom Holliday)
Radio: Pete 94.3 FM (Gm. 1)/KSPI 93.7 FM (Gm. 2/Sun.)
stillwaterradio.net (Rex Holt & Matt Davis)
Live Stats: okstate.statbroadcast.com
Twitter In-Game Updates: @OSUBaseball
About Oklahoma State
• OSU is 2-2 after winning its home opener against California Baptist on Tuesday. The Pokes return to action with a three-game series against LMU this weekend at O'Brate Stadium; the series opens with a Saturday doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. with Sunday’s finale also set for a 1 p.m. first pitch.
• The Cowboys are coming off a 42-22 season in 2022 in which they made their ninth consecutive NCAA Regional appearance. OSU finished tied for second in the Big 12 standings with a 15-9 conference mark, one game out of first place.
• OSU was the No. 7 national seed in last year's NCAA Championship, the program's highest ever tourney seeding, and was an NCAA Regional host for the fourth time under Josh Holliday; the Pokes advanced to the NCAA Regional finals for the sixth time under Holliday.
• Led by Nolan McLean and Roc Riggio, the Cowboys return six position starters and 13 letterwinners from a year ago.
• The 2023 season is OSU’s 11th under head coach Josh Holliday, who is 364-201-2 at his alma mater. The Cowboys have earned an NCAA Region berth each year under his watch.
• LMU is 2-2 and coming off a midweek win at home against Long Beach Stater after having dropped 2-of-3 games to San Jose State on the opening weekend of the season.
• Nathan Choate is in his fourth season as LMU's head coach and owns a 50-73-1 career record.
• OSU is 8-3 all time against LMU, including a 2-1 mark under Josh Holliday; the two teams last met in a three-game series in Stillwater in 2013, Holliday's first season as head coach.
• LMU's starting pitching rotation vs. the Cowboys is expected to be:
Game 1: LHP Diego Barrera — 0-0, 1.93 ERA in one start, 6 K, 0 BB in 4.2 IP
Game 2: RHP Zach Kirby — 0-0, 1.80 ERA in one start, 12 K, 1 BB in 5.0 IP
OSU was ranked as high as No. 8 in the preseason national polls, getting that ranking from USA TODAY Sports. This week, the Cowboys are ranked No. 15 by D1Baseball, 16th by Collegiate Baseball, 19th by the NCBWA, 21st by Baseball America and 25th by Perfect Game.
OSU has been nationally ranked for 39 consecutive weeks dating back to the 2021 preseason polls. The Cowboys reached No. 2 twice in 2022, marking their highest-ever ranking under Josh Holliday, and finished the year ranked as high as No. 17 in the final polls.
From March 4, 2013 to April 3, 2017, a streak of 77 consecutive weeks, OSU was ranked in at least one national poll. During that time, the Cowboys spent 18 weeks in the Top 10, climbing as high as No. 3. They have finished in the top 10 in the final polls twice under Josh Holliday — 10th in 2014 and fourth in 2016.
Big 12 Love For The Pokes
The Cowboys placed four players on the 2023 Preseason All-Big 12 Team as Marcus Brown, Nolan McLean, Roc Riggio and Juaron Watts-Brown earned that distinction. Additionally, Watts-Brown was named the Big 12 Preseason Pitcher of the Year and Big 12 Preseason Newcomer of the Year.
OSU was picked to finish second in the Big 12 standings, getting four first-place votes from the league's coaches. Two-time defending champion TCU collected five first-place votes to edge OSU as the favorite.
All-American Golden Cowboys
Juaron Watts-Brown and Nolan McLean are both consensus Preseason All-Americans.
Watts-Brown, the Cowboys' sophomore right-handed pitcher, was a second-team pick by D1Baseball and Baseball America and a third-team choice by Collegiate Baseball, Perfect Game and the NCBWA.
A two-way standout, McLean was named a Preseason All-American as a utility player and earned second-team status from D1Baseball and Collegiate Baseball and third-team honors from Baseball America, Perfect Game and the NCBWA.
Both McLean and Watts-Brown are also on the Golden Spikes Award Preseason Watch List, which includes 55 of the nation's top amateur players.
Joining the McLean/Watts-Brown duo as a Preseason All-American is second baseman Roc Riggio, who was a third-team selection by Baseball America and D1Baseball.
OSU's roster includes 23 newcomers, and the Cowboys brought in a recruiting class and transfer class that were both ranked in the top 10 nationally.
The group of newcomers includes 12 freshmen, six Division I transfers and five players who joined the Pokes from the JUCO ranks.
OSU's 2023 roster includes players from 20 different states and Canada.
Nolan McLean's powerful bat was a fixture in the middle of the Cowboys' order in 2022, and he also emerged as OSU's closer. That combination led to him being named a Perfect Game All-American and a semifinalist for the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award.
A native of North Carolina, McLean also became the third player in OSU history to earn All-Big 12 honors at two different positions — he was named to the All-Big 12 First Team as a utility player, was an All-Big 12 Second Team selection as a relief pitcher and collected honorable mention All-Big 12 plaudits as an infielder.
McLean slugged a team-high 19 home runs and hit .285 with 16 doubles and 47 RBIs while spending the majority of his time at third base. He was OSU's second-leading hitter in Big 12 play, posting a .330 average to go along with seven homers and 20 RBIs.
On the mound, McLean made 23 relief appearances and posted a 2-1 record and five saves while recording 39 strikeouts in 25 1/3 innings. Four of his saves came in league play.
McLean spurned professional baseball to return to Stillwater after being selected with the first pick of the third round of last July’s Major League Baseball Draft by the Baltimore Orioles.
Random Fact: McLean was a quarterback on the OSU football team during the 2020 season.
What Can Brown Do For You
Marcus Brown developed into the Cowboys' everyday shortstop as a sophomore in 2022 and thrived in that role, hitting .316 with 15 doubles, four homers and 31 RBIs to earn honorable mention All-Big 12 status.
Brown went on a tear at the plate during conference play. He entered league action hitting .256 but posted a .318 average against conference foes to boost that mark.
Brown, who also turned in the longest hitting streak by a Poke last season at 13-games, was named a Cape Cod League All-Star over the summer after starring for the Chatham Anglers.
Random Fact: Brown was named the 2021 Appalachian League Player of the Year as a member of the Elizabethton River Riders.
Zach Ehrhard was a unanimous pick for the Big 12 All-Freshman Team last season as he proved to be one of the Cowboys' most consistent hitters and a fixture at the top of the lineup.
The Florida native finished second on the team with a .332 batting average and 23 multi-hit games and led the Pokes with 18 stolen bases on 23 attempts. He also had a streak of 23 games reaching base safely, the longest by an OSU player on the season.
Ehrhard started 44 games in right field and 11 in center field in 2022 but is expected to take over center field duties as a sophomore.
Random Fact: At Wharton High School, Ehrhard was coached by MLB Hall of Famer Wade Boggs, who was a volunteer coach for the baseball team.
Roc Riggio enjoyed a Freshman All-American season in 2022, starting 53 games for the Cowboys and hitting .295 with 11 home runs, 14 doubles and 47 RBIs.
The second baseman caught fire at the plate in the postseason and was named to the all-tournament team at both the Big 12 Baseball Championship and the NCAA Stillwater Regional. In 10 games, he hit .458 (22-for-48) with six doubles, five homers and 19 RBIs.
Random Fact: As an eighth grader, Riggio committed to play baseball at UCLA.
Meet The New Guy
OSU bolstered its pitching staff with the addition of transfer Juaron Watts-Brown, who is expected to lead the Cowboys' weekend starting rotation.
Watts-Brown transferred to OSU after earning Freshman All-America honors at Long Beach State last season. The right-handed pitcher went 4-4 with a 3.68 ERA in 15 appearances, including 12 starts, for the Dirtbags and racked up 111 strikeouts in 73 1/3 innings.
During the month of May, Watts-Brown went 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 33 innings, and he posted double-digit strikeout games in four of his last five starts of the season.
Watts-Brown’s first collegiate season also saw him toss the first complete game no-hitter in LBSU history, and he set the school record for strikeouts per nine innings in a season with 13.62.
Random Fact: Watts-Brown was named the West Yosemite League Player of the Year in baseball, football and basketball during his prep career at Hanford High School; he played quarterback on the gridiron and forward in hoops.
Another reliable bat in the middle of the Cowboys' 2022 batting order returns this season in the form of David Mendham.
In his first season in Stillwater after transferring from South Carolina, Mendham started 57 games (50 at first base) and hit .276 with 16 doubles, 11 homers and 45 RBIs.
Mendham, who was an honorable mention All-Big 12 pick, committed just one fielding error on the season.
Random Fact: Mendham is dating OSU softball All-American pitcher Kelly Maxwell.
A pair of hometown hurlers have stepped up for the Cowboys this season.
Southpaw Drew Blake picked up the win in relief in the season opener against Missouri as the redshirt freshman worked two scoreless innings in relief. He has made a team-high three appearances.
Isaac Stebens tossed four shutout innings out of the bullpen in his debut against Vanderbilt, then worked two more scoreless frames with four Ks against Cal Baptist. The righty is in his first season with the Pokes after a JUCO All-American career at Cowley County CC.
Random Fact: Drew Blake's dad, Randy, was teammates with Josh Holliday on the Stillwater High School football team in the mid-1990s; Holliday was the Pioneers' quarterback, while Blake starred at wide receiver.
OSU recorded the 12th no-hitter in program history against California Baptist. Janzen Keisel worked the first 5 1/3 innings, striking out 11 along the way, before Isaac Stebens tossed two innings in relief. Drew Blake and Evan O’Toole both recorded outs in the eighth, and Nolan McLean earned the save with a perfect ninth.
It was the program's first no-hitter since Justin Campbell achieved the feat against Kansas on May 8, 2021. It was the third combined no-hitter by OSU and the first since Jason Bell, Brent Nichols, Rob Gaiko and Marcus Cuper no-hit Missouri Southern on March 16, 1993.
Furthermore, the no-hitter was the fifth in OSU history in a game that went nine innings, joining the 1993 combined no-no, Campell’s and no-hitters by Bob Richardson in 1968 and Jim Wixson in the 1960 College World Series.