Indiana hadn't been shut out all year, but then they hadn't encountered Matt Boyd on a mission either. The Oregon St. senior left-hander turned down pro baseball money to come back to make a run to Omaha, and turned in one of his best performances of the season. It wasn't the fewest hits allowed; a 1 hitter was, but considering the stakes of an elimination game in the College World Series, and the hitting prowess of the opponent (Indiana averaged nearly 9.5 runs per game this season), it was a 4 hitter, and it was spectacular.
And it had to be; his counterpart Aaron Slegers also turned in a complete game, and limited Oregon St. to just 7 hits, and only 1 run. It was arguably Slegers' best outing ever as well.
That run came in the 4th inning, when Kavin Keyes picked up his second single of the game, advanced to third when Ryan Barnes, who had been held hitless previously in the CWS, belted the only extra base hit of the game down the left field line, and scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Jake Rodriguez. Both Barnes and Rodriguez hit the first pitch thrown to them, highly unusual for Oregon St. hitters.
"I didn't [initially] know if it was going to be deep enough," Keyes said, "but "Jenks" (Oregon St. third base coach Andy Jenkens) was saying 'Go, Go, Go!', so I took off and tried to time the slide."
Oregon St.'s Kavin Keyes starts to slide in for the only run of the game.
(Photo via OSU Baseball)
"I just like to watch Kavin run," Oregon St. head coach Pat Casey added.
The play was close at the plate, but Indiana catcher Kyle Schwarber didn't hold onto the ball.
Against Boyd, it was more than the Hoosiers could overcome.
"You have those seasons where you just hate for it to end, and that's what we had here. It was a heck of a baseball game, these guys have nothing to hang their heads about," Indiana coach Tracy Smith said.
It was the second straight game Indiana has lost to a left-hander, but "These are some of the best pitchers in the country. We are a good hitting team, and he stifled a good hitting team," Smith said.
Boyd struck out 11 Indiana batters with the 121 pitches he threw, and also picked off a couple of Hoosiers who drew walks, ending any further thought of running by a team known for being aggressive offensively. Boyd set Indiana down in order 4 times in addition to the 2 innings where the pickoffs eliminated the Hoosiers' only base runner.
"He was spotting his fast ball and getting his breaking ball over for strikes," Schwarber said. We wanted to jump on the fast ball, but when we didn't, he was getting his breaking ball where he wanted it."
Oregon St. kept the crowd of 26,035, and especially the orange-clad Beaver Nation members, on the edge of their seats, though, leaving 6 runners on base in the first 4 innings, 4 of them in scoring position. It made for a nervous second half of the evening, as the Beavers were subsequently set down in order 4 innings in a row, and Slagers retired 17 batters in a row after Keyes scored what turned out to be the only run of the game.
"I tried not to focus on that," Boyd said. "I just focused on the next pitch, and relied on the guys behind me. My defense was awesome."
"When you coach young men, it can be difficult, but Matt is a no-maintenance guy. He goes to school, trains, and he's a great man. When he throws shutouts, he's really a great guy." Casey added.
The other half of the "Killer Bs", Tony Bryant, did get up briefly in the bullpen in the 8th inning, but there was no action in the 9th, as Boyd went for the complete game, but facing the top of the Indiana order.
Boyd got Chris Sujka for his 11th strike out, and then the same cavernous TD Ameritrade Park right center field that robbed Oregon St. and Danny Hayes of what would have been a walk off home run against Mississippi St. that would have kept the Beavers out of the losers bracket in the CWS opener returned the favor, as Schwarber mashed a ball that Barnes easily moved in under for the second out.
Sam Travis kept Indiana's first appearance in the CWS going with a bloop single to right, but Boyd got pinch hitter Nick Ramos to ground to a charging Keyes, who threw to Hayes for the out that sent Indiana home, and earned Oregon St. a rematch with the Bulldogs Friday at 2 PM CDT (Noon PDT). A Beaver victory Friday will result in a rematch Saturday at the same time, with a spot in the CWS finals at stake.
"Matt had only thrown about 20 pitches in 10 days since he started against Kansas St., so he was plenty rested," Casey said when asked about Boyd's pitch count.
"It would be hard to take Matty out in that situation, as well as he was pitching," Casey said. "And we were going to win or lose with him on the mound."
Boyd improved to 11-4 for the season. It was his third complete game shutout win, and with the Utah victory, his second 1-0 complete game win this season for the senior known as "MattyIce".
"I can't say how well Matt pitched," Casey said. "He was amazing. He was just a couple of pitches better than their guy tonight. That was as good as I've ever seen anyone throw in the CWS."
"He single-handedly won us that game, how does that sound?" Barnes added.
It was also the first 1-0 game in the CWS in 28 years, since Arkansas beat South Carolina in a 14 inning affair in 1985. The shutout, the 12th of the year by the Oregon St. staff, tied the Beavers with Rice for most in the nation this season.
It was only the second loss this season for Slegers, who finished the year 9-2. The duel of complete games was the first at the CWS since 2006, when Clemson's Stephen Faris and North Carolina's Robert Woodard did it, and both Boyd and Slegers more than lived up to their Third Team All-American status.
Indiana, the first team from the Big Ten to reach the CWS in 30 years, finished their best season ever, and first conference championship season in 64 years with a record of 49-16, while Oregon St. improved to 52-12, eclipsing the program single season win total set previously by the 2006 National Championship team for the second game in a row.