Oklahoma State threw its best pitcher against the Arizona Wildcats yesterday in a win-or-go-home game at the College World Series in Omaha.
The Cats obviously weren’t too impressed.
Before Thomas Hatch, the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year, could get to the fourth out of the game, the Wildcats had scored three runs and, with one out in the second inning, coach Josh Holliday began warming up his bull pen.
Before the third inning was over, Hatch was gone.
The Cowboys never did recover from being smacked around early and the Wildcats went on to post a 5-1 victory to earn a berth in the College World Series finals, where they will play Coastal Carolina for the national title. The Chanticleers beat Texas Christian, 7-5, to earn their berth in the finals.
First game of the best-of-three series is tomorrow (Monday) afternoon at 4 p.m. Arizona time.
In yesterday’s game with OSU, Arizona jumped on the Cowboys early for the second straight game. In Friday’s 9-3 win, they were up 3-0 by the end of the second inning and yesterday they had pushed across four runs before the start of the third.
Hatch, a third-round draft pick of the Chicago Cubs, lasted just two batters into the third inning. With no outs and two runners on base, he was replaced with junior right-hander Trey Cobb.
This is the same Thomas Hatch, mind you, that had pitched 25 scoreless innings since the Big 12 Tournament.
And this is the same OSU team that had allowed just six runs in 63 innings of post-season play before Arizona began beating on them in Friday’s game. In two days, the Wildcats hung 14 runs on them.
In yesterday’s game, there was never an inning when the Cats didn’t put at least one runner on base and at game’s end had left eight runners on base. After tagging the Cowboy pitchers for 14 runs Friday, they collected nine more in yesterday’s victory.
This is definitely a team that is peaking at the right time.
OSU’s only score came in the third inning when a sacrifice fly by J.R. Davis scored Jon Littell, who had opened the frame with a single and advanced to third on a Corey Hassel double.
While Hatch struggled, Arizona’s starter, Bobby Dalbec, was busy keeping a lid on the Cowboy offense and going for seven innings to earn the win and push his record to 11-5.
For the junior righty from Colorado, the victory was sweet revenge after pitching eight innings against the Cowboys last Monday, only to lose the game, 1-0. He struck out a career-high 12 batters and scattered five hits, but the offense couldn’t get on track to give him enough support for the win. The loss dropped the Cats into the elimination bracket.
But yesterday afternoon Dalbec, a fourth-round draft pick by the Red Sox, struck out six and held the Cowboys to four hits scattered over his seven innings.
And this time, he got plenty of support at the plate. Zach Gibbons went 2-for-4 with three RBIs, Ryan Aguilar and Jared Oliva added a couple of hits apiece, and Louis Boyd scored twice.
Kevin Ginkel took over for Dalbec in the eighth inning, faced eight batters, and pitched all but the last out. That honor went to Alfonso Rivas, who was called in from his position in left field to take the mound. When OSU sent Colin Simpson in to pinch-hit with two outs, Arizona coach Jay Johnson countered the move with the southpaw thrower Rivas.
Rivas fanned Simpson to end the game and earn his third save of the season.