Tyler Buffett has a message for teammate Thomas Hatch – anything you can do, I can do better. Just two days after Hatch threw a five-hit, complete-game shutout to lead Oklahoma State to a 1-0 victory over UC-Santa Barbara, Buffett was outstanding in allowing only three hits over eight innings as OSU defeated Arizona 1-0 in the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska.
The Cowboys, 43-20, became the first team in CWS history to win back-to-back 1-0 games, and now advance into Friday’s bracket championship game. They are now just one victory away from playing in the College World Series best-of-three championship series starting next Monday.
Buffett only allowed three hits to the Wildcats before giving way to Trey Cobb, who allowed a two-out walk in the ninth inning before closing it out to get the save for the Cowboys. Buffett struck out six and only walked two to improve to 9-3 on the season, while Cobb earns his sixth save.
"Well, unbelievable college baseball game. Pitching and defense are at a premium, safe to say," siad Cowboys head coach Josh Holliday. "Tyler Buffett was outstanding. His teammates played great defense behind him. And we did just enough on offense against an outstanding starting pitcher who really had his ball all over the place.
"So very proud of the kids. They continue to play at a high level. We're pitching the ball, catching the ball and playing good team baseball. So that's a strong recipe, I think, especially considering the elements, couple of balls got hit in the air tonight pretty good. And it wasn't a night to hit the ball in the air.
"So ground ball defense and one run proved to be the difference along with just a Big League outing by Tyler Buffett and Trey Cobb."
Buffett, a junior from Albuquerque, New Mexico, outdueled Arizona starter Bobby Dalbec, who only allowed five hits while striking out a career-best 12.
But shortstop Donnie Walton and third baseman Garrett Benge gave Buffett all the support he would need in the top of the fourth inning.
Walton led off the fourth with a double over the head of Arizona leftfielder Alfonso Rivas. Benge followed by singling over second baseman Cody Ramer’s head to drive in Walton with what proved to be the game-winning run.
"I felt all right. First couple of innings a little bit not as sharp as I wanted to be, and then around the fourth inning I felt I got a little bit of tunnel vision toward the glove and started finding the command that is necessary at this level," Buffett said. "And then having those guys make the plays behind me just helped everything out. The first play of the game, [Ryan] Sluder makes one of the best plays of the game that I've ever seen. So that definitely helps."
The Cowboys have never trailed during their seven-straight NCAA Tournament victories, and the OSU pitching staff has allowed only six runs in those seven games.
Buffett improved to 3-0 over the last three weeks, and has now allowed two runs in 22 innings, striking out 16 while walking six. He lowered his earned-run average in postseason play to 0.82 with his impressive performance against the Wildcats. Hatch (3-0), Buffett (3-0) and freshman Jensen Elliott (1-0) have allowed only three earned runs and have a combined 0.53 ERA in the NCAA Tournament.
In Saturday’s 1-0 win over UC-Santa Barbara, Hatch became the first Cowboys pitcher to throw a shutout in the College World Series since pitching coach Rob Walton started a 1986 game against Indiana State.
It only took Buffett (with ninth inning help from Cobb) two days to do so again.