Oklahoma State advanced to the fourth NCAA Super Regional in program history Sunday as the Cowboys knocked off top-seeded and No. 7 national seed Clemson, 9-2, in front of 4,407 fans at the NCAA Clemson Regional at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
With the win, the second-seeded Cowboys improved to 39-20 and advances to face the South Carolina-UNC Wilmington winner in Super Regional action. Those two teams play for the NCAA Columbia Regional championship Monday at 5 p.m. (CST).
OSU’s Super Regional berth marks its second in four seasons under head coach Josh Holliday, with the 2014 Cowboys also reaching that achievement. OSU also made Super Regional appearances in 2008 and 1999, with the ’99 team marking OSU’s last to advance to the College World Series.
“We’re thrilled with the way our kids played,” Holliday said. “We were very courageous and unified the entire tournament, and we came into an awesome venue against very, very quality competition and our kids played excellent baseball. Compliment to Clemson as a host and certainly as a team – we have great respect for the talent on the field. They came into this tournament very hot and an accomplished team, and we knew we would have to play well to navigate this tournament.
“It’s been a great experience for us, and I’m very proud of the kids… I’m excited about the future, and we look forward to continuing to play baseball together wherever and against whomever.”
The Cowboys were led Sunday by Clemson Regional Most Valuable Player Corey Hassel, who went 3-for-5 and smashed a grand slam in the fifth inning.
OSU also continued its impressive showing on the mound as starter Jensen Elliott worked six strong innings to improve to 9-2 while Trey Cobb kept the Tigers off the scoreboard over the final three innings to record his third save.
As it did in each of its three tourney games, OSU jumped out to a first inning lead. Following a two-out walk to Donnie Walton, an RBI double into the right-center field gap by Conor Costello put the Cowboys up 1-0.
The score remained 1-0 over the next several innings as Elliott and Clemson started Pat Krall locked into a pitcher’s duel.
But in the fifth, the Cowboys would get to the CU southpaw, who entered the game with a 10-1 record.
Jon Littell opened the frame with a single before Colin Theroux laid down a sacrifice bunt and reached safely on an error by Krall. Up next, J.R. Davis laid down a bunt that Krall fielded and threw to third, but Littell slid in safely to load the bases.
That brought Hassel to the plate, and the OSU senior delivered as he deposited a Krall offering into the left field seats to give the Cowboys a 5-0 advantage.
Clemson (44-20) plated its lone run off Elliott in the sixth as three-straight singles with two outs cut the OSU lead to 5-1 before Elliott struck out Reed Rohlman to escape further damage.
After working six innings and allowing one run on four hits while racking up eight strikeouts and only one walk, Elliott yielded to Garrett Williams out of the bullpen to open the seventh. But the left-hander hit the first batter he faced before an infield single brought Cobb out of the bullpen.
With a passed ball moving both runners into scoring position, Clemson cut its deficit to 5-2 on a sacrifice fly by Chris Williams.
Cobb wasn’t out of trouble, getting a strikeout before issuing a walk to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of Eli White. White worked the count full before Cobb came up with a huge strikeout to end the inning and keep the Cowboys’ lead at three.
OSU would rally for four insurance runs in the seventh. Costello got things started with a solo home run to left field, his second round tripper of the tournament and fifth of the season, before a bases loaded double by Littell brought home two more runs to make it 8-2. Theroux would pick up an RBI on a sacrifice fly to cap the scoring.
Hassel finished the contest with three hits and four RBIs, both tying career highs, while Costello and Littell were each 2-for-4 and drove in a pair of runs.
Cobb struck out four in his three hit less frames and earned his first save since March 4.
OSU placed six players on the Clemson Regional All-Tournament Team. Joining Hassel on the team were Davis, Littell, Elliott, Costello and Thomas Hatch.
2016 NCAA Clemson Regional All-Tournament Team
First Base: Matt Smith (Western Carolina)
Second Base: J.R. Davis (Oklahoma State)
Shortstop: Brett Pope (Western Carolina)
Third Base: Chris Williams (Clemson)
Outfield: Seth Beer (Clemson)
Outfield: Corey Hassel (Oklahoma State)
Outfield: Jon Littell (Oklahoma State)
Catcher: Chris Okey (Clemson)
Pitcher: Jensen Elliott (Oklahoma State)
Pitcher: Thomas Hatch (Oklahoma State)
DH/Utility: Conor Costello (Oklahoma State)
Most Valuable Player: Corey Hassel (Oklahoma State)