Beavers blank Indiana 1-0, set up rematch with Mississippi State
Oregon State's 2013 return to Omaha began in one of the most gut-wrenching ways possible against Mississippi State this past Saturday. The Beavers blew a late lead before Danny Hayes' walk-off homer attempt ended the game in defeat, caught painfully close to the wall.
[Related video: Behind the scenes - Oregon State's win over Louisville in Omaha]
Close, but no cigar. For Pat Casey's club, it was desperation time from the get-go.
Optimists contended that Oregon State was a team built to be able to come back through the losers' bracket. So far, they've been proven correct. The Beavers' ferocious starting pitching has paved the way to consecutive bounce-back victories, and now this juggernaut has earned its shot at revenge against Mississippi State.
Oregon State punched its ticket to college baseball's final four behind a sensational complete game effort from ace Matt Boyd on Wednesday. The Beavers eliminated Indiana on the strength of his 11 strikeouts. Boyd completely handcuffed a previously scalding Hoosier order, and the only offense Oregon State would need came courtesy of Jake Rodrigruez's sacrifice fly. That RBI supplied the winning difference in the fourth inning.
[Related video: Pac Profiles - Matt Boyd]
Oregon State will get its second crack at Mississippi State at noon PT Friday. Since they lost to the Bulldogs to open their stay at TD Ameritrade Park, the Beavers must beat their SEC rivals twice to advance to the best-of-three national championship series, which begins Monday. If Oregon State manages to win Friday's elimination game, it'll have a chance to completely dispatch of Mississippi State in yet another rematch at noon PT Saturday.
Despite the loser's bracket positioning, Casey should be supremely confident in his team's chances. He has the luxury of throwing Andrew Moore (14-1, 1.57 ERA) Friday and lefty Ben Wetzler (10-1, 2.25 ERA) should matters extend to Saturday, and that's a scary prospect for Mississippi State, which beat Oregon State 5-4 only after squeaking by the Beavers' bullpen in Moore's start this past Saturday.
With Wednesday's win, the Black and Orange have kept the prospect of an all-Pac-12 championship series intact. UCLA is one win away from advancing on their side of the bracket, while Oregon State is clearly still alive and kicking.
David Lombardi has covered Pac-12 baseball since 2007. He’s a play-by-play voice and on-air reporter in the San Francisco Bay Area. He’s on Twitter @DavidMLombardi.