Sunday, June 13, 1999 • Box score
A big reason Oklahoma State is the first team to leave the 1999 College World Series is because the Cowboys couldn't get their big guns drawn.
OSU's top two hitters - right fielder Lamont Matthews and shortstop Billy Gasparino, who had produced 54 home runs and 196 RBIs entering Sunday's 7-2 elimination loss to Rice - went a combined 1 for 15 in the tournament.
Matthews, a .391 hitter and the national RBI leader entering the CWS with 105, struck out three times looking in an opening-round loss to Alabama. The first of those came in the first inning with the bases loaded.
Against Rice on Sunday, Matthews struck out with the bases loaded in the first, hit into a double play in the third and struck out to end the game. He finished the CWS 0 for 7.
Gasparino, batting .369, was 1 for 8 in the CWS with an RBI single.
"This was really frustrating," Gasparino said. "We really felt we were going to get that guy tonight. We thought we were just one pitch away two or three times from getting five or six runs.
"Instead, we didn't get anything after having the bases loaded the first two innings."
Oklahoma State Coach Tom Holliday didn't point fingers at his seasonlong hitting stars, and warned others not to, either.
"I wouldn't trade those two guys for anything I've seen in the College World Series to this minute," Holliday said. "The bottom line is the people around them have to pick them up.
"It's obvious Billy and Lamont came in with big numbers, and people were going to pitch them tough. The supporting cast has to pick it up, and that didn't happen."
Gasparino said his third-inning at-bat Sunday against Rice was a sign that nothing was going the Cowboys' way.
The second-team All-American launched a long drive to left field that nearly everyone in the Rosenblatt Stadium press box thought would be a home run. But an 18-mph north wind - a rare sight in June in Nebraska - stopped the ball at the wall and Rice's Charles Williams caught it pressing against the fence.
"When the wind knocked that ball down, I knew we were in trouble," Gasparino said. "All I've heard about since I've been in college is how great the hitting conditions are in Omaha, and then that happens.
"I really think I was a whisker away from having five or six RBIs tonight. Instead, we're done."
Gasparino said he thought the Cowboys were more nervous in the opening game than Sunday night.
"I didn't think we pressed that much tonight," he said. "We just didn't get the hits we needed. And their pitcher threw well. He had control and kept the ball down."