Although emotions and momentum were at an all-time high for UCSB heading into the opening round of the College World Series, it proved not to be enough as Oklahoma States’ sophomore pitcher Thomas Hatch tossed a complete game, five-hitter shutout to hand Santa Barbara its first loss of the postseason.
The Gauchos fall to 42-19-1 on the season and now face elimination from the tournament as a loss on Monday against Miami would spell the end of their College World Series run. The Cowboys are now 42-20 on the season and are two wins away from securing a position in the championship round. They take on Arizona on Monday following the Santa Barbara/Miami match.
The game was a pitchers’ duel to the very end as Hatch and junior Shane Bieber both pitched the entire length of the game and were absolutely spectacular.
Bieber went eight innings, surrendering only six hits and one earned run while striking out six Cowboys. On most occasions, that stat line would have been enough for a win. However, the one run given up by the junior in the fourth frame proved to be enough for Oklahoma State to hand Bieber his fourth loss of the season.
Senior Corey Hassel scored the winning run after sophomore Garrett Benge singled up the middle to bring him in. After the Benge RBI in the fourth, Bieber retired 14 of the final 15 batters he faced on the day and gave up only one hit to keep his team in the game.
Hassel and Benge were both only able to register one hit on the evening. In fact, the pitchers’ duel was so intense only one hitter on both teams was able to register more than one hit, with that batter being junior second baseman J.R. Davis, who went 2-4 (.500) for the Cowboys.
On the Oklahoma State side, Hatch was simply magnificent and proved to be too much for the Gauchos to handle on the evening.
The sophomore right-hander went the full nine innings and allowed only five hits, no runs and one walk with seven strikeouts. This postseason, Hatch has been nothing short of amazing; he has still not allowed a single run in the three games — 23 innings — he has pitched.
The Gauchos’ best chance to score came early in the match —the second inning — as thanks to hits by redshirt sophomores JJ Muno and Dempsey Grover they had runners on first and third with only one out in the inning.
What looked to be a single by sophomore Kyle Plantier ended up being a great catch by senior shortstop Donnie Walton to get the Cowboys’ second out and keep the runners at bay. A strikeout by Hatch was the third and final out to get them out of the inning with no damage done.
In the final frame, the Gauchos looked to continue the postseason magic that has come through for them so far, but this time it was not meant to be. After a two-out single by redshirt junior Devon Gradford, sophomore Austin Bush struck out, ending the game in a 1-0 win for Oklahoma State.
Although the loss was tough, it’s not all bad for UCSB. It still has a chance to continue in this tournament with a win on Monday against Miami. With Bieber pitching the full game, the Gauchos will need their entire bullpen, including sophomore Kyle Nelson, to be ready for the win-or-go-home match.
The Gauchos will play an elimination match against Miami Monday, June 20 at TD Ameritrade Park, in Omaha, Nebraska at 11 a.m. PDT. The game will be televised live on ESPN U and streamed on the WatchESPN app.
Jorge Mercado is the current Editor in Chief and was a Sports Editor before that since freshman year. He prefers to be called Merk as that was his nickname given to him by the gods. Sometimes, his evil twin Mork appears. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.