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Ex-Knight Matt Boyd Bidding for Spot in Oregon State Rotation.

January 29, 2013

Injury to Alum Jace Fry Creates Opportunity for Senior Lefty

Ex-Knight Matt Boyd Bidding for Spot in Oregon State Rotation.

An unfortunate injury to one former Corvallis Knights' left-handed pitcher may lead to a starting opportunity for another ex-Knights' southpaw.

With 2011 alum Jace Fry - a 13-game starter at Oregon State in 2012 - sidelined indefinitely by Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery, his place in this year's starting rotation could be filled by 2010 alum Matt Boyd (pictured left, pitching in 2010), primarily a reliever to this point.

Now a senior, the 6-foot-3, 217-pounder from Eastside Catholic High School in Bellevue, Wash., is anticipating a huge final year for the Beavers, who are ranked as high as No. 6 in the five preseason Top-25 polls.

"I'm feeling the best going into a season since I've been here," Boyd said Tuesday, speaking at OSU's annual media day function. "We've got an opening in the rotation and I'd love to be part of that."

Boyd turns 22 years old on Saturday. The fact he'll celebrate his birthday in Corvallis is an added bonus for the Beavers, who open Feb. 15 against Utah Valley State at the Palm Springs Classic in Palm Springs, Calif. He was selected in the 13th round by Cincinnati in the 2012 MLB draft, so many figured his 4-0, 3.41 2012 season would be his OSU swan song.

However, he eschewed a shot at pro ball for another chance at an NCAA championship. OSU returns the bulk of a club that went 40-20 overall and advanced to the finals of the NCAA's Baton Rouge Regional before losing a 6-5 heartbreaker to host LSU.

"It was one of the toughest decisions in my life, outside of deciding where to go to college," Boyd said of his choice to remain in school. "It's always been a dream of mine to play major league baseball, but it's also been a dream to win a national championship.

"When it came down to it, I would have forgone that national-championship dream by signing. The way I see it, after this season I'll still get a chance to play major-league baseball. So I wanted to leave my stamp and bring a national championship to Oregon State.

"It had nothing to do with who drafted me. It was the opportunity to come back. I wanted to win a title more than anything."

So instead of reporting to Cincinnati's short-season Class A Pioneer League affiliate in Billings, he headed east to the Cape Cod League for an encore summer with the Orleans Firebirds. He went 2-1 with a 4.33 ERA in 27 innings with an outstanding 39-7 strikeout-walk ratio, and made the all-star team.

"Simply put, Boyd knows how to pitch," Orleans manager Kelly Nicholson said. "It's a good velocity, a good breaking ball and he really, really competes. He loves to be on the mound."

After beginning the summer as a reliever, he made three starts and increased his velocity significantly. He had 12 strikeouts and allowed just one hit in six innings against Chatham in his starting debut, then fanned 11 and allowed just three hits over seven innings against Harwich in his second start to earn CCL Pitcher of the Week honors.

"I told them if an opportunity came about, I'd love to start because I need to get it under my belt," Boyd said. "(Starting) was something I wanted to do at Oregon State this year and I needed to start preparing for it.

"The opportunity arose; I made the most of it and took advantage of it, and really made some strides. My velocity has always been there," and the extra rest between outings kept him fresh so he could maintain it deep into the game.

"Knowing I'd be throwing every six days, instead of back-to-back days, or back-to-back-to-back days, made it easier to get into a regular routine and training regimen and get everything under your belt."

Does he think he enhanced his professional prospects? Will he be drafted before the 13th round this June?

"You know, people say that, but to be honest it's not even on my mind at all," he said. "My focus is to win a title, and to help my team more than anything."

Matt also played for Orleans in 2011 and was 0-0, 1.71 in eight games. He joined the Firebirds after spending the first half of the summer playing for the touring USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, where he was 0-0, with a 1.42 ERA and eight strikeouts in 6.1 innings.

This year's draft is June 6-8, so barring a deep run in the NCAA tournament he should be pitching professionally by July. He said he'll accept either a starting or relief role wherever he signs.

"I'd love to start, I love to control the game," he said. "But I love being the guy who comes out of the bullpen for the save situation, or when the bases are loaded with nobody out and you need to get out of it. I love being that guy too.

"It really doesn't matter. It's out of my control anyway. You just have to make the most of every opportunity you get and things will work out."

Matt was an honorable mention All-West Coast League selection with the Knights in 2010. He was 0-1 with a 1.55 ERA in 14 appearances, with 33 strikeouts in 29 innings, and also hit .196 in 23 games as a first baseman, with a homer and seven RBIs.

The Knights won the West Division regular-season title, but were eliminated by Bend in the divisional playoffs and did not advance to the Championship Series for the only time in the six summers they've played in Corvallis since moving here from Gresham for the 2007 season.

Boyd said games against the Elks are his top WCL memory.

"Packed houses, real rivalry games, players getting chippy and emotional, you don't see that kind of emotion in summer ball anywhere else," he said. "That was awesome. Playing in front of my home fans and having all that, it could not have been any better."

Check out Matt Boyd's "Inside Corner" video episode two by clicking here. Matt interviews future Knight frosh Gabe Clark and ex-Knights' Braden Wells, John Wallace and James Nygren.