(Scroll down for postgame celebration video)
OMAHA, Neb. — When Matt Boyd took the mound in the bottom of the ninth inning Wednesday night against Indiana needing just three more outs to keep Oregon State’s baseball season alive, he knew it was his game to win or lose.
After tossing eight masterful innings of three-hit baseball, Boyd wouldn’t have it any other way.
This is the reason he came back to OSU — to help the Beavers challenge for a national title.
“No, it would be hard to take Matty out in that situation, as well as he was pitching,” coach Pat Casey said. “And we were going to win or lose with him on the mound. And I think he would have been a hard guy to take out in that situation.”
No need to worry. There was no way Boyd was going to let this opportunity slip away.
Boyd picked up his 11th strikeout of the game for the first out, then got a fly out to right for the second. After a single, he got a ground ball to Kavin Keyes at third to end the game.
Final score at TD Ameritrade Park: Beavers 1, Hoosiers 0.
OSU lives to play another day.
Thanks to Boyd’s four-hitter — the 12th shutout of the season for the Beavers — OSU will get another crack, or two, at Mississippi State after the Bulldogs scored twice in the eighth off Boyd in Saturday’s College World Series opener.
The Bulldogs and Beavers (52-12) meet at noon on Friday. If OSU wins, the teams play again on Saturday for a trip to the best-of-three championship series beginning Monday.
“My curveball and slider were working very well today,” Boyd said. “And being able to put it on both sides of the plate and get ahead with it early, down in the zone, opened up both sides of the plate for my other pitches as well.”
Boyd was in the zone almost from the start, striking out six of the first eight batters he faced. He walked two of the first nine batters, but picked off both runners by persistently throwing to first.
He took a no-hitter into the fifth when the Hoosiers (49-16) got back-to-back singles, including one on a bunt.
Boyd gave up a one-out walk in the sixth, but a double play ended the inning. After a one-out single in the eighth, Boyd stranded the runner at first.
The Hoosiers had just one runner reach second the entire game.
“Matt obviously, he talked about getting ahead with his off-speed pitches, but his fastball was great today,” catcher Jake Rodriguez said. “I think he got ahead more with his fastball, worked both sides of the plate with his fastball. He was down with all of his pitches. That’s why he was so successful. And we needed him to throw the offspeed pitch early or late in the count and he hit his spot and threw balls in the dirt and did a great job all night keeping them off balance.”
When asked to describe Boyd’s performance, designated hitter Ryan Barnes said: “Single-handedly winning us that game, how does that sound?”
Boyd had the Hoosiers confused most of the game, and handed the Hoosiers their only shutout of the season.
“We wanted to jump on his fastball, but a lot of times when his fastball was in the zone, it was right on the inside corner, outside corner,” said IU’s Michael Basil, who had one hit. “(He) didn’t really leave too much right over the heart of the plate, just really spotted the fastball and kept us off-balanced.”
While Boyd was tossing a gem, Indiana starter Aaron Slegers was equally impressive. Slegers went all nine innings, allowing seven hits and one run while striking out five and walking two in the tough loss.
“He threw a great game,” Rodriguez said. “But we were able to scratch a run there, but it was two good pitching performances.”
The Beavers’ only run came in the fourth. Kavin Keyes opened with a single and Barnes came through with a slap double to left to put runners at second and third with no outs.
“Case just called the slap and they overcommitted and I got a pitch down the middle,” Barnes said. “On a slap, you are looking to pull the ball left side and I got a pitch to do that.”
Rodriguez delivered a fly ball to right that was just deep enough for Keyes to score on from third.
“I didn’t know if it was going to get deep enough or take him far enough left that I would be able to tag,” Keyes said. “But (third base coach Andy Jenkins) is over there and he’s saying yes, yes, yes and making sure that I was going to get there.
“And the ball was on the left side of the plate, I think, and so it was away from me, but I still think I would have been in there safe.”
Boyd wasn’t concerned that the game was close throughout.
“I really tried to focus not on the scoreboard, just making pitches,” Boyd said. “With the 0-0 game, 1-0 or 10-0, score shouldn’t matter or dictate how you pitch. Still go after guys, try to get ahead and just get outs.
“And the whole game that was my focus, just really trying not to focus on the score, just making pitches, focus on one pitch at a time.”
OSU is now 4-0 in elimination games this postseason, and 16-5 all-time under Casey.
“We’ve got a lot of seniors and a lot of older guys and we’re just not ready to hang them up,” Barnes said.
Oregon State 1, Indiana 0
OREGON STATE 000 100 000 — 1 7 0
INDIANA 000 000 000 — 0 4 0
Boyd and Rodriguez. Slegers and Schwarber. WP: Boyd (11-4). LP: Slegers (9-2). 2B: Conforto (OSU), Barnes (OSU)
Hits: OSU 7 (Smith, Conforto, Keyes 2, Barnes 2, Hendrix). IU 4 (Travis, Basil, DeMuth, Smith)
RBIs: OSU 1 (Rodriguez)