Gauchos Edged 1-0 in College World Series Debut

Shane Bieber was a tough-luck loser in UCSB's first ever College World Series game, allowing one run in a 1-0 defeat (photo by Vic Neumann)
Shane Bieber was a tough-luck loser in UCSB's first ever College World Series game, allowing one run in a 1-0 defeat (photo by Vic Neumann)

OMAHA, Neb. – Tasked with making the start in UC Santa Barbara's first ever College World Series game on Saturday afternoon, ace right-hander Shane Bieber was in top form, scattering six hits and giving up just one run in an eight-inning effort. 

Unfortunately for him and the Gauchos, Oklahoma State right-hander Thomas Hatch fared slightly better, allowing just five hits and striking out seven in a complete game shutout to deliver the Cowboys a 1-0 victory on a warm and muggy day at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. 

The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for UCSB (42-19-1) which will next play either Miami or Arizona on Monday at 1:00 PM CT in an elimination game televised on ESPNU. 

"I thought our guys battled really well," said UCSB head coach Andrew Checketts. "I thought they were in character early. Put some pressure on them a little bit offensively. I thought our at-bats early in the game were good. We couldn't string them together or capitalize on any of them. And then once they scored the momentum changed a little bit.?

Oklahoma State laced three straight singles to start the fourth inning, bringing in the game's only run. Garrett Benge had the decisive hit in that rally, driving one back up the middle to plate Corey Hassel. 

With runners on second and third and still nobody out in the inning, junior shortstop Clay Fisher made a nice leaping catch of a Conor Costello line drive and then beat the runner back to second for an unassisted double play. Bieber escaped the jam without further damage by inducing a lazy fly ball to center from Dustin Williams. 

Hatch put his foot on the gas pedal once the Cowboys had the lead, surrendering just two singles and facing one over the minimum in the final five frames of the contest. After struggling with his command early on, he threw a first pitch strike to 14 of the final 16 batters he faced, including 10 straight at one point. 

Besides that one inning, Bieber matched Hatch step for step on the mound. Following OSU's go-ahead single, the Laguna Hills, Calif. native responded by retiring nine straight and 14 of the last 16 batters of the game. 

UCSB, which is now 5-1 in the postseason, had its best chances to score in the first two innings of the game.

Sophomore second baseman JJ Muno put the Gauchos in business in the second when he looped a one-out double into the left-center gap, then sophomore catcher Dempsey Grover followed by yanking a grounder through the left side to put runners on the corners. 

The next batter, Kyle Plantier, got a good swing on a 1-0 pitch, but his hard-struck line drive was right at OSU shortstop Donnie Walton. Hatch then halted the scoring threat by freezing Josh Adams on a backdoor slider for an inning ending strikeout. 

Hatch had to labor in the first despite facing just three batters, falling into a three-ball count with all three batters. He received some help from catcher Collin Theroux who gunned down Fisher trying to steal second following his one-out walk. 

Oklahoma State leadoff hitter J.R. Davis was the sole batter in the game with two hits, both singles. 

NOTES – UCSB is the fourth different team from the University of California system to qualify for the College World Series, joining UCLA, California and UC Irvine … UCSB is the third different Big West Conference representative in the last three years, joining UC Irvine (2014) and Cal State Fullerton (2015) … Shane Bieber's 98 pitches are tied for third-fewest in a complete game (minimum 8 innings) in CWS records (with pitch counts) that date back to 1981 ... Bieber's 98 pitches were his fewest since throwing 80 on April 29th at Hawaii in 7.0 innings ... Hatch has now gone 23 consecutive innings without allowing a run in the postseason ... Bieber was named a Rawlings Second Team All-American about an hour before first pitch.