After crushing Louisville, 11-4, in the loser’s bracket of the College World Series, Oregon State met Indiana in a quarterfinal tilt on Wednesday night to determine who would play Mississippi State in the semifinals.
With both teams facing elimination with another loss, the Beavers rose to the occasion as Matt Boyd pitched the game of his life, going the distance in a four-hit effort to hold Indiana scoreless in a 1-0 shutout.
Catcher Jake Rodriguez provided Oregon State with its only RBI to propel the No. 3 seed into the next round.
Having already lost to Mississippi State on Saturday, Oregon State faces another must-win contest against the Bulldogs in a rematch with a team it fell to 5-4 less than a week ago. If the Beavers can get another pitching performance like they got on Wednesday, they’ll be poised to fight another day in pursuit of a national championship.
Let’s take a look at the final matchups before the championship round and highlight two teams playing tremendous baseball at this point in the tournament.
|NC State vs. (1) North Carolina||Thursday, June 20, 8 p.m. ET|
|Mississippi State vs. (3) Oregon State||Friday, June 21, 3 p.m. ET|
|UCLA vs. TBD||Friday, June 21, 8 p.m. ET|
UCLA has arguably been the biggest surprise of the College World Series.
The Bruins aren’t an explosive offensive team, but they’ve gotten exceptional pitching throughout the tournament, to find themselves in position to battle for the national title next week with a win in the semifinals over either NC State or North Carolina.
Starting pitchers Adam Plutko and Nick Vander Tuig—as well as reliever David Berg—stifled LSU and NC State in their last two contests, holding both teams to just a run apiece. In both wins, UCLA's pitching allowed a combined total of 10 hits while striking out 12 and walking just three.
The Bruins feature a fairly unspectacular lineup that doesn’t boast a single player batting better than .280, but when they can get pitching like they got against LSU and NC State, hitting really is not an issue.
If No. 1 North Carolina gets past NC State on Thursday, UCLA could find itself in some trouble in the semifinals. As good as UCLA’s pitching staff has been, the Tar Heels are an explosive offensive team with a bevy of big bats, and they present a difficult matchup for a Bruins team struggling to score runs in the tournament.
There are a lot of ways to win a baseball game, and Mississippi State isn’t picky. The Bulldogs simply find ways to get the job done.
Mississippi State has won each of its last two games by a final score of 5-4. In both contests, the Bulldogs have come from behind with late-inning rallies. If the last two games are any indication, the eighth frame is Mississippi State’s magic inning.
Part of that success has stemmed from timely hitting from a lineup that features four .300 hitters. Part of it also stems from a bullpen that simply doesn’t allow late-inning runs.
In the last two games, Mississippi State reliever Jonathan Holder has combined for two scoreless innings and three strikeouts, allowing just one hit. If the Bulldogs can reach the ninth inning with a lead against Oregon State, the Beavers won’t have many opportunities to even the score.
Teams like Mississippi State are especially dangerous at this point in the tournament. There’s something to be said for momentum and confidence, and the Bulldogs certainly have plenty of both.