OSU falls one game short of College World Series finals

Dreams of a national baseball title for Oklahoma State were dashed Saturday as the Cowboys fell to Arizona 5-1 in Omaha at the College World Series.

A win would have placed the Cowboys in the finals but Arizona (48-22) won two out of three games with OSU (43-22).

“Congratulations to Arizona,” said OSU coach Josh Holliday. “They took a tough road through the bracket, and compliments to their kids for coming back after losing a ballgame and beating us a couple of times there. It’s not an easy thing to do. So hats off to Arizona.

“I just really want to celebrate my team. What an amazing accomplishment for us. When you think about it, I don’t think since 1990 has Oklahoma State played this deep into the College World Series. That’s a long time ago. And 26 years; is that right? I’m not great with math. Yeah, 26, right? There you go.”

OSU pitcher Thomas Hatch gave up a pair of runs in each of the first two innings and was pulled. Hatch, the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year who has been stellar in the playoffs, finished the year at 9-3.

“I think Thomas pitched us here,” said Holliday. “I think he pitched us all the way here. And we certainly enjoy the ride he took us on. He might have elevated a few balls today. They’re a very good offensive team. They’re similar to the Texas Tech/TCU offensive squads we saw in our league where when you play them for a three-game series, their lineup is good one through nine. They can run, bunt, hit. They did not miss mistakes. They’re a good team. They didn’t get here by accident. Those guys can hit.

“I’ll tell you what, Thomas Hatch, what a remarkable season. Conference Pitcher of the Year. He missed last season due to injury. He bounced back and became an ace and a First-Team All-American and Big 12 Pitcher of the Year. I just can’t tell you how proud I am of him and what he did for OSU baseball, because, again, that kid walked in and twirled big-time games at big-time moments that allowed this team to get here.”

Hatch pitched complete game shutouts against five outstanding teams this year.

Hatch saw his scoreless inning streak end at 26 in a row after giving up a pair of runs in the first inning.

The start by Hatch was his 19th of the season, tying the school’s single-season record held by four players.

How did Holliday rebuild the baseball program?

“Well, it starts with the kids,” Holliday said. “And I think it starts when two or three of them fall in love with Oklahoma State and then it starts with a group, maybe a particular group of recruits, that comes in that starts to get some leadership from those kids.

“And I think over the last four years that process of passion for your school, bringing in new people and welcoming them in, having a common belief system about what this is really about, which for us was to be great at everything we did — school, life, baseball, how we treat people — and then they look around and they see kids like Corey (Hassel), four years, Trey Cobb three years, first commitment to our staff when we were hired, Donovan (Walton), who in my opinion is one of the most important players at OSU in the last 26 years. Kids that have a love for their program that makes them play proud.

“And then it spreads, because now it’s not just, well, that’s where I go to school and I played at Oklahoma State and that means something and they stayed their senior year because they looked at the opportunity to turn pro and decided this was an experience they weren’t willing to turn the page on, and then that cumulative effect of that many people feeling passionate about your team led us here.”

Cobb praised the togetherness of the team.

“Just the brotherhood that we have, it’s incredible,” Cobb said. “And just out there thinking how cool it was that we’re not just going to be a team that’s going to be a brotherhood forever because we were a team, we have that and then we also have this that’s going to bond us forever, not only personally but with the university and with our fans.

“We’ll always think of this team and the tightness, and it’s unbelievable. It’s hard not to tear up out there when you’re hugging your best friends. But it was a heck of a season. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

“These are all my best friends,” said Hassel. “And I’m going to look forward to continuing our relationship on past this. This is just baseball. It’s just a game. And I was just thanking them for loving me as much as I love them and just having such a great brotherhood. And I was just so proud of every one of those guys, from the freshmen all the way up to the seniors, the way they played.”

OSU made its 20th CWS appearance and first since 1999. The Cowboys now own a 40-38 mark at the event.

The loss marks the first time in six tries the Cowboys have started the CWS 2-0 and not reached the championship game (1959, 1961, 1981, 1987 and 1990).