OMAHA, Nebraska — It was a gamble. Oklahoma State lost.
But Saturday, the Cowboys can go double-or-nothing, winner take all.
OSU’s perfect postseason came crashing down on Friday in the College World Series in a 9-3 loss to Arizona at TD Ameritrade Stadium, ending a string of seven consecutive NCAA Tournament victories.
OSU hadn’t trailed in 72 postseason innings this season, but fell behind 1-0 in the first inning and 3-0 in the second.
The gamble was on freshman pitcher Jensen Elliott, who lasted just two innings and gave up three runs on five hits and a walk.
OSU’s pitching in its first two games had been spectacular behind ace Thomas Hatch and reliever-turned-co-ace Tyler Buffett. The duo combined to throw 17 shutout innings in their two starts.
Hatch could have returned on five days’ rest, but pitching coach Rob Walton instead chose to stay within his rotation of Hatch-Buffett-Elliott.
But all is not lost. In the double-elimination bracket, the Cowboys and Wildcats rematch on Saturday at either 2 p.m. or 7 p.m., depending on the outcome of Friday night’s TCU-Coastal Carolina game. (If TCU wins, OSU-Arizona begins at 7.)
OSU beat Arizona 1-0 in their previous meeting Monday night — the same score by which the Cowboys opened the CWS against Cal-Santa Barbara.
But that lack of offensive production caught up with the Cowboys on Friday.
OSU managed just two hits against three Wildcats pitchers, despite what looked like a golden opportunity.
Arizona ace Nathan Bannister left the game in the third inning with an undisclosed injury.
OSU touched up reliever Kevin Ginkel for two runs in the fourth inning, but that was it.
Compounding the Cowboys’ problems, the defense — better than perfect in its first two games — committed two errors that allowed four unearned runs.
Elliott, Remey Reed, Carson Teel and Blake Battenfield each gave up runs among OSU’s six pitchers. Nine Arizona batters accounted for 14 hits — fourth-most allowed by Cowboy pitchers this season and the most in a game since TCU collected 17 hits on May 26.