Oklahoma St. 4, Princeton 1

Friday, June 2nd 2006, 9:24 pm
By: News On 6

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ Matt Clarkson hit a two-run home run in the second inning, leading the Oklahoma State Cowboys to a 4-1 victory over Princeton in the first round of the NCAA Fayetteville Regional on Friday.

Oklahoma State (40-18) will now advance to play the winner of an evening game between Oral Roberts and Arkansas, while Princeton (19-25-1) will play the loser.

Oklahoma State pitcher Matt Gardner (7-3) struck out a career-high six batters and gave up seven hits in nine innings of work.

Gardner ``moved the ball around the plate,'' Oklahoma State coach Frank Anderson said. ``He did what he does best, which is throw the ball over the plate and let us play defense.''

Anderson said the complete-game performance by Gardner kept the options open for the Cowboys' pitching rotation.

Gardner said he was pleased that Princeton's batters were only hitting his fastball and not his slider.

``I'd rather them hit a fastball that's moving than a hanging slider,'' Gardner said. ``I feel if I can locate (my fastball) and keep it down in the zone that the hitters will get themselves out.''

The Cowboys jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning when centerfielder Keanon Simon scored after Deik Scram reached base on a fielder's choice. The Cowboys extended their lead to 3-0 in the second inning when catcher Jordy Mercer reached base on a hit to right field and Clarkson hit his third homer of the season over the right field wall.

Princeton pitcher Erik Stiller (4-4) struck out 10 batters and gave up six hits. Friday was Stiller's first outing since May 6, when Princeton beat Harvard 9-3 for the Tigers' third Ivy League championship in four years.

``The key for me today was being able to throw my curve ball for strikes and being able to throw it on any count,'' Stiller said.

Princeton's only run of the game came in the fourth inning when Sal Iacono hit his fourth home run of the year over the center field wall.

Princeton, which left six baserunners stranded, got two hits each from Dan DeGeorge, Iacono and Micah Kaplan.