It is always good to enter the postseason on a hot streak.
The Missouri baseball team defeated Oklahoma State 7-3 on Sunday at Taylor Stadium, sweeping the Cowboys, who entered the three-game series with the third-best record in the Big 12 Conference.
The sweep is the first for the Tigers (34-20-1, 12-14) in a conference series this season and it gave Missouri a four-game winning streak to end the regular season.
Missouri finishes seventh in the conference, passing Nebraska and will face Oklahoma in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament on Wednesday at Ameriquest Field in Arlington, Texas.
Pitcher Nathan Culp earned his first conference win as a starter Sunday, pitching 7 2/3 innings, striking out six and allowing three runs on five hits.
“This is the best I’ve been throwing,” Culp said. “I’m real confident right now, I think the whole team is real confident.”
The Missouri offense was strong again, hitting three home runs and striking out once.
Ryan Rallo led the Tigers at the plate, coming up a double short of the cycle, going 3-for-5 with three runs and a home run. Rallo said consistent hitting throughout Missouri’s lineup has helped the Tigers peak at the end of the season.
“One through nine, everybody contributed,” Rallo said. “When you’re doing that, when you’re operating on all cylinders, you’re going to win the game.”
Oklahoma State (33-22, 15-11) pitchers could not shut down the Tigers’ offense for the third straight day. After allowing four home runs Saturday, Cowboy pitchers continued to fall victim to the long ball Sunday.
In addition to Rallo’s solo home run in the third, James Boone and Gary Arndt hit home runs. Boone’s two-run home run in the fourth was still rising when it cleared the right field fence.
“It felt good,” Boone said. “It was the best ball I’ve hit this year so far.”
The home run, Boone’s third, was the first he has hit left-handed this season.
After Oklahoma State’s Scott Kirby hit a two-run home run in the top of the sixth to trim Missouri’s lead to 6-3, Arndt led off the Tigers’ half with a home run.
“The momentum finally went to their side, and we were kind of down and (Arndt’s) home run put the momentum back on our side, and we kept it the rest of the game,” Rallo said.
Missouri coach Tim Jamieson said the sweep was important because it puts the Tigers on the opposite side of the bracket from Texas. The Longhorns are No. 2 in the country, but Missouri won two out of three games in the series against Texas at Taylor Stadium earlier this month.
“I like (Missouri’s) side of the bracket a lot better,” Jamieson said. “I was concerned about matchups, not that we did well against Oklahoma, but it’s hard to beat the same team four times in one year.”
The Sooners swept Missouri earlier this season in Norman.
“We haven’t beaten (Oklahoma) yet and I like that,” Jamieson said. “I also like the fact that they haven’t seen us play our best game yet.”