It is do or die tonight at 8:00 on ESPN. The Indiana Hoosiers' College World Series hopes will either continue on to Friday or screech to a halt here. You can bet your last dollar that Tracy Smith and company will be coming into this game prepared and ready for anything. The Hoosiers have been victims of mental lapses in key hitting situations but I wouldn't expect that to continue tonight. IU will be ready.
Indiana will be taking on the Oregon State Beavers tonight to see who gets to advance on to try and beat Mississippi State twice to advance to the finals. The Hoosiers are at a point where losing isn't an option. They must win out to see their national title dreams become reality. But first Oregon State will have something to say about it.
Oregon State is a team chocked full of MLB draft picks (8 total) with a tendency to put together runs. They started their season this year by winning 15 straight. That strong run eventually led them to winning the Pac-12 by two games over the Oregon Ducks. The Beavers continued through their regional and super regional without much of a road bump before falling to Mississippi State in the first game of the CWS. From there they blasted Louisville to find there way here.
The Beavers are expected to run out left handed senior Matt Boyd. Boyd owns a 10-4 record with a 2.18 ERA. Boyd has already thrown once in this CWS in a relief role. He was brought in late in the game against Mississippi State and gave up the winning run in the eighth inning. He will be more in his element this go around. It will be interesting to see how he can hold up against this consistently brutal IU lineup. The Hoosiers come into the game batting .306 on the year and have had no problem getting on base in Omaha. Converting is another problem. Stringing together hits will be where IU makes or breaks the strengths of OSU's pitching.
For Indiana, they'll run their best pitcher of the season out to the mound as a counter. Aaron Slegers, the owner of a season 9-1 record with a 2.13 ERA, will be trying to keep Oregon State from manufacturing runs. Situational hitting is Oregon State's strength. They're only 74 in the nation in runs scored and 55th in batting average but they come through when it counts. Slegers just has to find the strike zone with regularity and he should be in good enough shape to let the offense do its job.
The confidence for this game isn't running nearly as high as it was on Monday. I don't know if that is the symptom of the situation or of the match-up. Oregon State and Mississippi State feel like very similar teams to me and I like our chances with both of them in a vaccum. But until we can start driving in runners in scoring position my confidence will continue to be shaken. Luckily I am still a homer and say we win a close to get to play the Bulldogs on Friday.