NU MEDIA RELATIONS:
Clemson, S.C. – Making its 14th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and the second in three seasons, the Nebraska baseball team (37-21) dropped its opening game of the tournament to the #18 Oklahoma State Cowboys (37-20) by a score of 6-0 on Friday afternoon at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
NU’s offense had the task of facing Big 12 Pitcher of the Year Thomas Hatch, and the Huskers were unable to score a run off the sophomore right hander. Hatch scattered six hits over 7.0 shutout innings and struck out 10. It’s the first time an opposing pitcher has record 10 or more strikeouts since March 29, 2014, when UNLV’s John Ricky also struck out 10 Huskers. On the day Hatch went over 100 strikeouts on the season, becoming the 13th player in OSU history to reach the mark.
Making his NCAA Tournament debut, freshman Matt Waldron lasted a season-low 3.2 innings, he had gone at least 5.0 innings in previous 10 starts of the year. The Cowboys scored five runs off Waldron on eight hits and two walks, while the right hander notched four strikeouts. Waldron entered the game with a streak of 24.1 straight innings without allowing an earned run, but saw that come to an end in the first inning.
Sophomore Garett King tossed 3.1 innings of one-run relief behind Waldron and struck out six, but NU’s offense was unable to get back in the game. Freshman Robbie Palkert also tossed an inning of perfect relief.
NU’s pitchers recorded 11 strikeouts on the day, but did allow 13 hits. Hatch and reliever Trey Cobb combined for 12 strikeouts, while allowing six hits.
Sophomore Jake Meyers was 2-for-3 at the plate and was on base three times, while fellow sophomore Scott Schreiber was 2-for-3 with a pair of singles after missing NU’s last four games.
OSU designated hitter Conor Costello put on a show at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs. J.R. Davis and Jon Littell also produced a three-hit day.
After Hatch stranded a pair of Huskers to start the game, the Cowboys jumped out an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, but it could have been worse for the Huskers. A leadoff single, hit-by-pitch and another bloop single loaded the bases with no outs. The Cowboys’ No. 4 and 5 hitters delivered back-to-back RBI singles, getting OSU the early lead. With the bases still loaded and no out, Waldron got out of the jam by striking out consecutive batters looking before getting an inning-ending 6-3 groundout.
Nebraska got the tying runs on base in the second with singles from Jesse Wilkening and Luis Alvarado, but Hatch stranded both by getting a groundball off the bat of Ryan Boldt.
Following a rocky first inning, Waldron bounced back with a 1-2-3 second inning, but then the Cowboys struck again in the third. With a runner on and one down, Costello belted a 2-1 offering into the left-field seats, increasing OSU’s lead to 4-0. The Cowboys had a pair of runners on later in the inning, but Waldron stranded both with his third strikeout of the game.
After Nebraska couldn’t take advantage of a leadoff single from Schreiber in the top of the fourth, OSU tacked on a run in the bottom of the frame. Waldron got the second out of the frame and with two on the Huskers went to King. Costello welcomed him with a RBI single, his fourth RBI of the game, and OSU took a 5-0 lead. King struck out Dustin Williams to end the inning.
The Huskers mounted a scoring threat in the sixth when they had the bases loaded with one down, but Hatch dug in. After a single by Meyers, a walk to Ben Miller and a single by Schreiber loaded the bases, Hatch left them loaded with consecutive strikeouts of Wilkening and Jake Placzek, Hatch’s seventh and eighth of the game.
OSU added an insurance run in the seventh to take a 6-0 lead and the Huskers failed to get another hit after Schreiber’s single in the sixth.
With the loss the Huskers fall to the loser’s bracket and will play the loser of tonight’s game between Clemson and Western Carolina. The Huskers will play in an elimination game tomorrow at 11 a.m. (CT) and the game will be streamed live on ESPN3.