OMAHA, Neb. – The way Bobby Dalbec has pitched lately, it was going to take an extraordinary performance to beat him.
Oklahoma State’s Tyler Buffett delivered one Monday night.
The junior right-hander kept Arizona off balance all night, spurring the Cowboys to a 1-0 victory over the Wildcats in the second College World Series game for both schools.
The loss puts the UA into do-or-die mode. Arizona will face UC Santa Barbara in an elimination game Wednesday. Oklahoma State will face the winner of that game Friday. UCSB ousted No. 3 national seed Miami earlier Monday.
Oklahoma State snapped Arizona’s six-game winning streak. It was the Cowboys’ second consecutive 1-0 triumph.
Arizona appeared to have the makings of a rally in the bottom of the ninth when first-base umpire John Haggerty ruled that Dustin Williams’ foot was off the bag on Zach Gibbons’ one-out grounder to third. But after conferring, the umpires overturned the call. The previous inning ended with first-base coach Sergio Brown insisting that Williams’ foot was off the bag on Louis Boyd’s 6-4-3 double play.
Dalbec couldn’t have pitched much better. He allowed one run and struck out a career-high 12 batters – with only one walk – in eight sparkling innings. That performance came on the heels of Dalbec pitching 8 2/3 scoreless innings in a 1-0 victory over Mississippi State in the Super Regional round.
Oklahoma State – which has yet to trail in seven consecutive postseason victories – took advantage of a brief lapse in the top of the fourth. Switch-hitter Donnie Walton, batting from the left side, hit an opposite-field double over the head of left fielder Alfonso Rivas III, who wasn’t playing particularly deep. Garrett Benge followed with a single to right-center to drive in Walton.
Dalbec then hit Oklahoma State’s Conor Costello, putting runners on first and second with no outs. But Dalbec pitched out of the inning and kept the Wildcats within a run before giving way to Cameron Ming in the ninth.
Buffett pitch eight scoreless innings, allowing only three hits. He got help from his defense. Oklahoma State center fielder Ryan Sluder set the tone for the evening with an incredible catch of leadoff Cody Ramer’s blast to right-center. Sluder made a full-extension dive just shy of the warning track to rob Ramer of a sure double and possible triple.
It turned out to be the hardest ball the Wildcats hit all night.