OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — In the kind of pitchers’ duel the College World Series hadn’t seen in three decades, Matt Boyd was just a bit superior to Aaron Slegers.
Boyd threw a four-hitter and Oregon State ended the Hoosiers’ first appearance in Omaha with a 1-0 victory Wednesday night.
“Matt was just a couple of pitches better,” Beavers coach Pat Casey said. “Fortunately for us, Matt was as good as I think anybody we’ve seen throw here in the College World Series.”
Boyd struck out 11, and the Beavers made a fourth-inning sacrifice fly stand in the first 1-0 game at the CWS since 1985. The Beavers (52-12) now face Mississippi State on Friday needing to beat the Bulldogs twice to reach next week’s finals.
Slegers, the Big Ten pitcher of the year, allowed seven hits in his first career complete game. But that wasn’t enough to extend the stay of an Indiana team making its first CWS appearance. The Hoosiers (49-16) were shut out for the first time this season.
“Entertainment value, I think it was off the charts,” Indiana coach Tracy Smith said. “It’s just one of those where you had two guys who were on tonight. Unfortunately, we came out on the wrong end of that. As a coach you could be disappointed with the lack of effectiveness in the batter’s box, but I think a lot of that had to do with what their guy was doing.”
Boyd (11-4), who pitched his fourth complete game and third shutout this season, flummoxed the Hoosiers by using breaking pitches to get ahead in counts and working both sides of the plate effectively.
The senior left-hander faced the minimum through four innings, holding the Hoosiers hitless until Michael Basil looped a ball into short right field in the fifth. Basil moved to second on Dustin DeMuth’s bunt single, but no Hoosiers runner advanced farther.
Boyd was the loser in relief in the Beavers’ 5-4 CWS-opening loss to Mississippi State on Saturday. Wednesday marked the first win in five starts since May 10 for the Toronto Blue Jays’ sixth-round draft pick.
“I’ve been dreaming of this as a little kid, pitching in the College World Series,” Boyd said. “Whatever capacity — starting, closing, playing first, DHing and everything like that — I love to help out the team with whatever is needed. And I’m grateful for the opportunity.”
The Beavers scored in the fourth when Kavin Keyes singled, went to third on Ryan Barnes’ double and came home on Jake Rodriguez’s sacrifice fly. Casey Smith’s throw from right field was wide of the plate, and Keyes made it home easily.
“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. “The ball was on the left side of the plate, and so it was away from me, but I still think I would have been in there safe.”
The Beavers played error-free defense behind Boyd, picked off runners in the first and third innings and turned a double play in the sixth.
Slegers (9-2) said he realized early that he would have to match Boyd’s performance if the Hoosiers were going to win.
“When you know the guy on the other side is throwing well,” Slegers said, “it gives you a little bit more motivation to make those pitches because you know runs are going to be at a premium.”
Big Ten champion Indiana was the first team from the conference to make it to the CWS since Michigan in 1984. The Hoosiers were the first from the Big Ten to win a game here since the Wolverines beat Stanford in 1983.
But they struggled offensively, particularly against left-handed pitching, after batting .309, averaging 9.4 runs and hitting six home runs in their first five tournament games. The Hoosiers batted .211 and scored a total of six runs in three CWS games.
Smith said he hopes the trip to Omaha brings respect for Indiana and Big Ten baseball.
“I said to some of the guys who are going to return that now we’ve seen the blueprint,” he said. “We know what areas we need to improve on. We know what it takes to get here.”