#3 Oregon St. (51-12, 24-6 in the Pac-12) vs. Indiana (49-15, 17-7 in the Big Ten) / 7 PM CDT (5 PM PDT) / TD Ameritrade Park, Omaha, NE / ESPN / KEJO 1240 AM & KPOJ 620 AM / SiriusXM Channel 91
Oregon St. and Indiana meet with a common goal; get another shot at Mississippi St. Ninth inning comebacks are nearly impossible in Omaha (there hasn't been one sine 2009), but the Bulldogs are pretty good in the 8th inning, which is when they staged comebacks against both the Beavers and Hoosiers. As a result, one of the two will head home in the morning, and the other will get a second shot at Mississippi St. Friday afternoon.
The Beavers bounced back from their 5-4 loss to Mississippi St. in the 2013 College World Series opener with a pair of mistake-aided big innings early on Monday afternoon, and rolled to a record setting 11-4 win that eliminated Louisville, which resulted in the team setting a school record in wins in a season.
The Hoosiers, who are making their first ever trip to the CWS, had shut down the Cardinal 2-0 Saturday evening, behind a complete game gem by Joey DeNato, and had taken a 3-2 lead Monday night against Mississippi St, only to have the Bulldogs rally for 3 runs in the top of the 8th inning, on their way to a 5-4 win. Beaver Nation can relate to that; it was a 2 run top of the 8th inning rally by Mississippi St. that sent Oregon St. into the losers bracket.
But before the Beavers can worry about another shot at the Bulldogs, they have to handle the Hoosiers, and so they plan to turn to their senior leader of the pitching staff, sending LHP Matt Boyd (10-4, 2.18) to the mound. Boyd, who filled every role imaginable in the bullpen in his first 3 years, before becoming the Beavers' "Friday Night Guy" this season, went back to the bullpen, and came in to close Oregon St.'s 4-3 win over Kansas St. in the deciding game of the Corvallis Super Regional, and then came in to try to prevent the Bulldog rally Saturday, after freshman Andrew Moore had given up a 1 out single.
Boyd allowed another single, and then, after getting a strikeout, gave up the 2 RBI single by Wes Rea that won the game for MIssissippi St., and pinned only the 4th loss of the season on Boyd.
Indiana, who will be the home team, via a coin flip, will get to throw the first pitch today, though, and will have sophomore RHP Aaron Slegers (9-1, 2.13) do it. While DeNato got the well deserved attention for his complete game shutout, Slegers, who, like Boyd, is a 3rd team All-American, has the lowest ERA and best winning percentage of the Hoosiers' 3 regular starters.
So for the second game in a row, Oregon St. will face arguably the opposing staff's ace.
Slegers, a 3rd round choice by the Minnesota Twins in this year's MLB draft, left the game tied 5-5 in his last outing, in the 5th inning of Indiana's eventual Super Regional winning 11-6 victory over Florida St.
Indiana won the Big 10 regular season campaign by 2 games over Ohio St. and Nebraska, but then had to play the Huskers twice in the Conference Tournament, losing 7-6 before claiming the Big 10's only bid to the NCAA Tournament with a 4-3 win.
The Hoosiers dominated the Bloomington Regional, beating Valparaiso 5-4, but then really turning up the heat, beating Austin-Peay twice, 15-6 and then 6-1.
Indiana really got the country's attention in the Tallahassee Super Regional though, overpowering high scoring Florida St. 10-9 and 11-6 to become the first Big 10 team to reach the CWS in 18 years.
The Hoosiers represent another team that statistically out-hits the Beavers, both for average and power. Indiana has hit 53 home runs compared to Oregon St.'s 30, not that that is particularly relevant at TD Ameritrade Park, but the Hoosiers also have 13 triples and 134 doubles compared to the Beavers' 11 and 106, and that does matter in spacious TDA.
Indiana has 675 hits, contrasted with Oregon St.'s 620, and a team batting average of .303, whereas the Beavers as a team hits .291.
Dustin DeMuth leads Indiana, with 91 hits, and a .378 batting average, but Kyle Schwarber is the most dangerous Hoosier. Schwarber is has a team high 18 home runs, but also hits for average, and is second on the squad behing DeMuth, at .372. He also leads Indiana in runs scored, having crossed the plate 65 times.
The Hoosiers' 2 best RBI hitters are Scott Donley, who is hitting .361 with 61 RBIs, and Sam Travis, who has 57, while hiting .317.
Boyd will clearly have to pitch carefully, and he won't be able to sneak ahead on many counts, as Indiana is noted for swinging freely and early.
A good dose of offensive support would help, so if Michael Conforto, who is 6 for 8 with 2 walks in 2 games in Omaha, 3 of them doubles, can stay hot, it would certainly help the Beavers today.
Tyler Smith is having a good series for Oregon St. as well, hitting .400 on 4 of 10 hitting, but the middle of the lineup backing up Conforto needs to step it up. Cleanup hitter Dylan Davis is 1 for 9, Danny Hayes is 2 of 7 (though he does have 3 walks), and both Ryan Barnes and Jake Rodriguez are 0 for 7. That core group hitting .100 will not get a third National Championship for the Beavers.
The Beavers were going to stay with the same batting order today, but at the plate meeting, head coach Pat Casey inserted Jeff Hendrix in center field and the #9 slot in the batting order, in place of Max Gordon.
Max Gordon Jeff Hendrix-CF
Here's Indiana's lineup:
It's warmer than it has been for previous games, with the temperature in the upper 80s as game time approaches, and the wind is blowing in from center field. TD Ameritrade will hold fly balls in again tonight.