Hatch, Costello Lead Cowboys To 6-0 Victory

Thomas Hatch and Trey Cobb combine to shut out Nebraska, and Conor Costello ties a career high with four RBIs as Oklahoma State defeated Nebraska 6-0 in an opening round game at the NCAA Clemson Regional.

CLEMSON, S.C. – Behind a strong pitching performance from Thomas Hatch and a career day at the plate for Conor Costello, second-seeded Oklahoma State opened the NCAA Clemson Regional with a 6-0 win over No. 3-seed Nebraska Friday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

With the win, the 16th-ranked Cowboys improved to 37-20 and moved into Saturday’s winner’s bracket game where OSU will play the winner of tonight’s Clemson-Western Carolina game at 6 p.m. (CST).

Hatch worked seven innings and racked up 10 strikeouts while allowing just six hits – all singles – and two walks as the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year improved to 7-2 on the season. Trey Cobb kept NU (37-21) off the scoreboard over the final two frames to seal OSU’s eighth shutout of the season.

Costello smashed a two-run home run en route to a 3-for-4 day at the plate and tied a career high with four RBIs, while J.R. Davis tallied three hits and an RBI. Jon Littell also tied a career best with three hits for the Cowboys.

“Obviously when you throw a shutout, that’s a good place to start,” said OSU head coach Josh Holliday. “Most important games start there on the mound, and Thomas (Hatch) was outstanding once again as he has been for us really all year long. Compliments to Thomas for pounding the strike zone against a quality Nebraska team, and we played error-free defense which helped him control the pitch count and pitch deep into the ballgame, which is important in a tournament setting.

“From there, we were in position offensively, and (Costello and Davis) had a couple of big hits that helped us create some offense. That’s the story of the game – great pitching, quality defense and offense throughout the ballgame that gave us a chance to build the lead.

“That’s the way we would draw it up – if we had a chance to draw it up this morning, I would have taken exactly what we got.”

OSU jumped out to an early lead against NU right-hander Matt Waldron, who entered the game having gone 24 1/3 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run over his last four appearances.

But OSU quickly ended that streak. Davis led off the bottom of the first with a single, and after Corey Hassel was hit by a pitch and Donnie Walton singled, the bases were full of Cowboys with no outs. Up next, Garrett Benge brought home the Pokes’ first run with a single before Costello stepped to the dish and picked up an RBI single to make it 2-0 before Waldron escaped further damage by retiring the next three hitters.

The Cowboys would double their lead in the third when, with one out, Costello blasted his fourth home run of the season over the wall in left-center field. The two-run shot extended OSU’s advantage to 4-0.

With Hatch cruising on the mound, OSU added its fifth run on an RBI single by Costello in the fourth before completing the scoring in the seventh when Davis drove in a run with a two-out single to make it 6-0.

Hatch’s 10-strikeout performance brought his season total to 102 as he became just the 13th pitcher in OSU history to record 100 strikeouts in a season and the first since Andrew Heaney, who had 140 in 2012. The Cowboys have now had a pitcher reach 100 strikeouts in a season 16 times (three players have done it twice).

“I felt really good and getting ahead in the count allowed me to keep my pitch count down and go deep into the game – that was big,” Hatch said. “For me to be successful, I have to have my fastball command and pound the zone with that. And today my slider was as good as it’s been all season. A combination of those two and then flipping a changeup in there every once in a while.”

The Huskers left nine runners on base in the contest, including leaving the bases full in the sixth. In that inning, Hatch faced a bases-loaded situation with only one out but struck out Jesse Wilkening and Jake Placzek to end the threat.

OSU’s eighth shutout marked the second-highest single-season total in school history. The Cowboys also had eight shutouts in 1986, with the 1984 club owning the record with 13.

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