Oklahoma State's historic 2014 season came to an end Saturday night at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium as the Cowboys dropped a 1-0 contest to UC Irvine in the NCAA Stillwater Super Regional.
With the loss, the Cowboys end the season with a 48-18 record, their most wins since 1994. Along the way, OSU captured its first-ever Big 12 Conference regular season title and celebrated the first NCAA Regional championship for the program since 2007.
Saturday's loss marked the first time this season OSU had not won a one-run ballgame. The Cowboys entered the game 11-0 in one-run contests.
Despite the tough end to the season, head coach Josh Holliday is proud of what his team accomplished in just his second year at the helm.
"Just look at this place — that's enough said," Holliday said. "We have sellout crowds after averaging 200 fans a game. People care about these kids. We play a lot of meaningful baseball. I'm not going to sit here and rehash it because I can't give it it's proper due, but I believe we won the Big 12. That's pretty remarkable considering the depth of the conference and what teams are doing. We're very proud of that.
"More than anything, I am proud of the accomplishment of a group of people to 100 percent give to each other. I don't know how to explain that to you guys because it's something that when you're with them every single day, you see it in every single fashion. It is something for many of us that we will always cherish. We don't get to keep playing, but it's going to last forever because of what we earned."
UC Irvine (40-23), which advances to the College World Series for the first time since 2007, rode the right arm of ace Andrew Morales to the win.
Morales improved to 11-2 with his third complete game of the season as he allowed just five hits, all singles, and struck out eight.
"Credit to UC Irvine. Andrew Morales pitched a tremendous game, he's an outstanding competitor and showed you why he's the pitcher of the year in their conference — very gutty college performer, it was his night." Holliday said. "(UC Irvine) came in here and played really well, and I compliment them. Well-coached, they have spirit and they will go to the College World Series with everything a ballclub should so congratulations to them.
"We know how hard it is to get to this point, how hard it is to win at this point, and they did the things necessary to win so I compliment them and their staff. It was a tough ballgame, it was hard fought."
The Anteaters scored the game's lone run off OSU starter Vince Wheeland in their first at bat when Jonathan Munoz delivered a two-out RBI double to left field.
From that point, Wheeland matched Morales as he continued to pile up zeroes on the scoreboard. The senior right-hander, making just his third start of the season, worked 6 2/3 innings and recorded a career-high 110 pitches. Despite the effort, he suffered the loss to end the season with a 10-1 mark.
"We had tremendous effort from Vince Wheeland, an extremely courageous effort," Holliday said. "Extremely proud of the way he responded to the start. He has been a fantastic, fantastic performer here. Probably if you sat down and looked at him, he's one of the top-10 pitchers to ever pitch here. Maybe even better than that, if you look at what he's done over four years in terms of appearances and victories and key moments that he's pitched in. Awfully special."
OSU had several scoring chances against Morales but left seven runners stranded on base in the game.
In both the third and fifth innings, Bryan Case collected leadoff singles, advanced to second on bunts and reached third with two outs, but the Cowboys could not find a way to plate him.
The Cowboys' final hit in the contest came on a sixth inning single by Arakawa, who was 2-for-4 on the night.
Morales would retire the Cowboys in order in each of the final three innings to seal the win.
"We were a fantastic team all year long, and tonight was no different," Holliday said. "We just ran into a young man that pitched one heck of a baseball game. And sometimes you just have to tip your cap to that, as painful as that may be, and as much as we fight like crazy to not accept that in terms of our team's approach, that young man pitched a fantastic ballgame."