Coming into the College World Series opener between two pitching-heavy squads in the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos, it was assumed that runs would be at a premium.
As it turned out, one run was all it took for the Cowboys to pick up the first victory in the 2016 College World Series.
Garrett Benge stroked an RBI single in the fourth inning, and that was enough for Oklahoma State starter Thomas Hatch, who scattered five hits over a complete game shutout, handing the Gauchos their first loss of the NCAA Tournament. J.R. Davis had two hits for the Cowboys, the only player for either side to record multiple hits.
Hatch, Bieber, settle into pitcher's duel
Neither team boasted prolific offenses coming into the game, but they did feature a pair of very good pitchers. Bieber, the Gauchos' ace and a 12-game winner, dueled with Hatch, who would improve his record to 9-2. The Gauchos drew a one-out walk but had a runner cut down trying to steal in the first inning. Santa Barbara produced possibly their best scoring chance in the second inning. JJ Muno ripped a one-out double and advanced 90 feet on single, placing runners on the corners with one out.
Hatch wormed out of trouble, inducing a lineout and picking up his first K of the day to end the inning. It was the beginning of a dominant outing for Hatch, who surrendered just three hits the rest of the day. He induced double plays in the third and eighth innings, stranded a runner in the fourth, and retired nine straight from the fifth through seventh innings. He allowed a two-out single in the ninth inning, but he quashed the rally with his seventh strikeout of the day. With the shutout, Hatch, a 3rd round draft pick of the Chicago Cubs, extended his scoreless streak to 26 innings.
Meanwhile, Bieber nearly managed to match his counterpart on the bump, hurling an eight inning complete game, allowing six hits and one run. He stranded a runner at third in the first inning, set the Cowboys down 1-2-3 in the second inning, and was the benefactor of a Cowboy runner caught stealing in the third, keeping the game scoreless into the bottom of the fourth.
The Cowboys did just enough in the fourth frame to walk away with the victory. Corey Hassell, Donnie Walton, and Benge roped consecutive singles to bring home the lone run of the game. Bieber escaped further trouble after a passed ball put Hassell and Walton in scoring position, inducing a line drive double play. Bieber went on to retire 12 of the final 13 batters he faced, but it wasn't enough to pioneer the stagnant USCB offense to victory.
The Cowboys advance into the winner's bracket. They will face another upset squad in the Arizona Wildcats, who defeated the Miami Hurricanes 5-1. The Gauchos will do battle with the Hurricanes in a loser's bracket game. The winner continues on to face the loser of Arizona-Oklahoma State, but the loser will head back home, after just a two-game stint in Omaha.