(AP) Nobody is bashing Oklahoma State anymore.
The Cowboys, perhaps the most criticized selection for the 64-team NCAA baseball tournament, proved they belong Saturday night with a 3-2 victory over top-seeded Clemson in the Clemson Regional.
Neil Medchill drove in Micheal Dabbs with a two-out single in the eighth inning for the winning run in the second-round, winners bracket game. Medchill’s sharp grounder hit the glove of sprawling Clemson first baseman Ben Paulsen and trickled into the outfield grass, allowing Dabbs to score from second without a throw. Dabbs had reached second when the Tigers failed to make a catch in left-center on a play ruled a double.
Freshman Randy McCurry (4-1) shut down the Tigers in order in the ninth.
OSU coach Frank Anderson said his team, which finished ninth in the 10-team Big 12 Conference standings, never paid attention to outside criticism.
“We really haven’t thought about it that much,” Anderson said. “I never discussed it one time with our kids. What are you going to say?”
The Cowboys (34-22), the only unbeaten team in the regional, will play either Clemson (41-20) or Tennessee Tech for the championship Sunday night.
McCurry got the Cowboys out of an eighth-inning jam with the game tied and the lead run on third base. Lefthander Andrew Oliver took a shutout into the eighth before allowing two tying runs on singles by Chris Epps and Mike Freeman.
Cowboys Tom Belza and Mark Ginther broke open a scoreless tie with back-to-back homers in the seventh inning off Tiger starter Casey Harman. Ryan Hinson (2-1) came in after Ginther’s homer.
Clemson had eight hits, including two by Paulsen. OSU had only five hits, two by Medchill.
Belza’s homer was his fourth in two games, though only his sixth of the season.
“I’m not really sure,” Belza said when asked the reason for his playoff power surge.
The Tigers hit into two line-drive double plays and lined out a third time with a runner on second base.
“I thought we put some good swings on the ball,” Clemson coach Jack Leggett said.