Tyler Nurdin tossed his second-career shutout to lead 16th-ranked Oklahoma State to a series-clinching 5-0 win over West Virginia Friday night at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
With the victory, the Cowboys won their fifth Big 12 Conference series of the season and maintained second place in the conference standings at 13-9. OSU, which is assured of finishing no worse than third in the league, also owns the best overall record in the conference at 39-13, one win shy of reaching 40 victories for the first time since 2008.
OSU scored all five of its runs in the pivotal fifth inning to help Nurdin improve to 4-2 on the season. In tossing his second complete game, the sophomore southpaw allowed just four hits and one walk while recording seven strikeouts, one shy of his career high.
"(Nurdin) was pretty darn good," said OSU head coach Josh Holliday. "That's the second time he's rolled an entire game. It was a muggy, hot night to pitch, and I think (WVU) is a very good team. They're a dangerous offensive team -- they're strong and they're very competitive and they kept coming the whole time.
"But Tyler made pitches, and what more can you say -- how far this kid has come? I'm so proud of him and happy. What he's done is really give our team what we needed in the rotation. He's a really dependable guy we can turn to that gives us an opportunity to win."
After a scoreless pitcher's duel over the first four innings between Nurdin and WVU's John Means, the game turned in the fifth.
In the top of the inning, the Mountaineers used three-straight singles to load the bases with one out. But Nurdin got Bobby Boyd to line out to second and Brady Wilson to ground out to end the threat.
"(OSU pitching coach) Rob (Walton) talks about that a lot, just keeping our composure," said of facing the bases-loaded jam in the fifth. "It's hard to rattle us. They get those three guys on, and I'm thinking I'm just one pitch away from getting out of the inning. It's an easy mindset when you're one pitch away."
The Cowboy offense carried the momentum from Nurdin's escape into the bottom of the inning. Jarrett Higgins drew a leadoff walk, and Saulyer Saxon laid down a sacrifice bunt. Means fielded the ball but made an errant throw to first, with one of the Mountaineers' four errors on the night putting OSU runners on second and third.
Up next, Aaron Cornell delivered an RBI single for the game's first run, and a successful safety squeeze bunt by Tanner Krietemeier made it 2-0.
The Cowboys weren't done. Randy McCurry followed Krietemeier with a double, and four batters later, Donnie Walton lined a two-RBI double off the glove of WVU first baseman Ryan McBroom to give OSU a 5-0 advantage.
"The momentum of the whole game really came down to how we escaped that fifth inning," Holliday said. "Tyler has bases loaded and one out, and he escapes it. Then we answer with five runs."
With plenty of run support, Nurdin dominated the final four innings, retiring the side in order in three of them. The lone runner he allowed during that span came on a walk to open the eighth, a runner he quickly erased on a fielder's choice before ending the inning with a double play.
"It was a lot of fun," Nurdin said. "I had a really good fastball and was able to command my changeup, and my slider I had in my repertoire as well. I felt good."
The Cowboys also finished the contest with just four hits, two of those by Walton.
The two teams close out the regular season Saturday at 3 p.m.