The moment never seems to be too big for Roc Riggio.
Riggio’s RBI single in the eighth inning meant Oklahoma State bested West Virginia 3-2 on Thursday at Globe Life Field in Arlington to advance in the Big 12 Tournament. The Cowboys advance to face the loser of Thursday evening’s Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech game.
With runners on first and second and one out, Riggio — a sophomore from California — got a ball into right field that scored David Mendham from second. The Cowboys ended up leaving the bases loaded that inning, but Riggio’s single was enough support for OSU ace Juaron Watts-Brown, even if the Long Beach State transfer did make things interesting.
Making his first bullpen appearance of the season Thursday, Watts-Brown flirted with danger in the ninth. After striking out the first two batters he faced in the inning, Watts-Brown hit a batter, allowed a double and hit another to load the bases. But then he tallied his seventh strikeout of the game to end it.
With the Big 12 Tournament being a little off schedule, Nolan McLean started on the mound for the Pokes. He threw six innings where he allowed WVU’s two runs off four hits while walking one and striking out four.
Watts-Brown came on in the seventh and gave up just two hits while walking three, hitting two and striking out seven. He is up to 115 strikeouts this season, a stat that would’ve ranked sixth nationally entering the day.
The Cowboys’ bats started hot Thursday, scoring a pair of runs in the first inning. Zach Ehrhard scored on a Chase Adkison sac fly before Riggio scored on a Nolan Schubart ground out.
The Mountaineers scored lone runs in the second and sixth to tie it before Riggio’s game-winning hit.
This win could be big for the Cowboys’ Regional hosting hopes. The Pokes came into Thursday not projected to host by D1Baseball or Baseball America. But, the Cowboys had a similar resume to both West Virginia and Texas — two teams that went 0-2 in Arlington this weekend. The Cowboys are the only of the three Co-Big 12 champs still playing. Further wins could further separate OSU from those two teams.
Oklahoma State will next play at 6:30 p.m. Friday against the loser of Texas Tech and OU.