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Phansalkar Puts TCU to Sleep, Keeps Oklahoma State Alive



ARLINGTON, Texas — If you’re going to make a deep run in the postseason, you need a pitcher like Roman Phansalkar.

You know the type. The do-everything steady hand who has the stuff to get you out of a particularly sticky jam, the stamina to give you an extended relief appearance and the unflappable demeanor to deal with both situations.

That’s been Phansalkar all year.

In his 26 outings this season, he’s gone at least two innings 16 times. Just twice this season has he allowed more than one run in a single outing. And there’s a real argument he’s been the best pitcher on the Oklahoma State staff not named Justin Campbell, with his 2.44 ERA the best of any pitcher with more than 24 innings. He’s also just one off the team lead in appearances, with 26.

“Roman has been one of our best pitchers the entire year,” said Oklahoma State coach Josh Holliday. “We’ve just had the luxury of bringing him out of the bullpen to put him in a position to shorten ballgames and he’s done a tremendous job.”

Pitchers like Phansalkar also go up in value when a team ends up in a proverbial rock fight-type of game where the offenses are going back and forth early on, and those games are a dime a dozen once you get into the postseason and pitching staffs get taxed. In those situations, a guy like Phansalkar can settle things down.

Friday’s game against Texas Christian was one such game, and he did precisely that in an 8-4 win that sent the Cowboys (38-19, 15-9) to the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament.

TCU was all over OSU starter Mitchell Stone, scoring three runs against him in the first two innings to jump out to a 3-0 lead. After Oklahoma State responded by scoring four runs in the top of the third to take the lead, Phansalkar took the mound beginning in the bottom of the third and immediately went about settling the game down.

The Horned Frogs did get him for a run in his first inning, but that was it on the way to the righthander giving up one run on two hits with one walk and six strikeouts in five innings, while using his entire repertoire effectively.

By the time he exited, the game had completely changed. OSU held a comfortable 8-4 lead, a potential slugfest had been averted and he successfully bridged the gap to late-inning arms like Ryan Ure, Kale Davis and Nolan McLean.

“My arm felt really good,” Phansalkar said. “Sinker was working, we mixed in and out, up and down, high fours (four-seam fastballs). I don’t throw the changeup a lot. It’s mainly a pitch I throw to lefties and I just don’t face as many lefties as we saw with TCU today, so they kind of forced me to have to be good with that pitch.”

It’s hard to overstate how vital Phansalkar has been for this Oklahoma State pitching staff, one that has had to search for answers at times around ace Justin Campbell and is still doing some of that as it deals with an injury to righthander Bryce Osmond that has kept him out of action in the Big 12 Tournament and inconsistent performance from righthander Trevor Martin, who has seen his role shift late in the season in an effort by OSU to get the best arms in the most important spots.

Through it all, Phansalkar’s role has only grown.

“It’s just the preparation that we’ve gone through,” Phansalkar said. “I’ve kind of been that middle relief guy and that’s evolved into the high-leverage style. I think almost every time I’ve gone somewhere around 30 pitches, so I think that pitch count is just slowly bouncing up and down and as the season has gone on, it’s continued to be extended.”

And now, it’s easy to see this performance against TCU being the precursor to yet another jump in role for Phansalkar.

Friday’s outing represented his longest of the year in terms of innings pitched. It was also his high-water mark in pitches thrown, with 81. When the Cowboys get into a regional next weekend, it will have two starting pitchers set to go in Campbell and fellow righthander Victor Mederos. The third spot is less settled and could present an opportunity for Phansalkar.

“He’s now prepped and a real option, if he’s not used extensively in game one or two of the regional, to start a third game if necessary, because you’re going to play every pitch as if it were your last,” Holliday said.”You’re going to put who you think (is) the best competitor that gives you the best chance to win in there, and he’s certainly proven he’s one of those guys for us.”

There are still plenty of questions to be answered about what OSU looks like on the mound as it moves forward, but whatever it looks like, you can bet Phansalkar is going to be right in the middle of it.

Delucia Dylan Courtesy Of Ole Miss

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