Arizona State head coach Jim Brock made the decision to start left-hander Rusty Kilgo in that opening game of the 1988 College World Series and it paid off with Kilgo going eight innings and the Sun Devils taking the game 4-2.
It paid off despite that start being the reliever Kilgo's first start of the year, and despite Brock bypassing 17-game winner Linty Ingram for that start, The Associated Press wrote.
"Any time you've got an All-American who leads the nation in wins and you don't start him in the opening game of the College World Series, the guy you start better pitch awfully well," Brock told The AP. "Kilgo was brilliant."
Kilgo would continue to help the Sun Devils in that starter role, helping them to the championship game. But his luck - and his team's - would run out there.
From there, Kilgo went on to an eight-year career as a reliever in the pros, one where he made AAA, but never made the majors.
Kilgo's career began in 1989, taken by the Expos in the 22nd round of the draft, out of Arizona State.
At Arizona State, Kilgo helped his team to that 1988 College World Series as a reliever. He then became the unexpected star, as a starter.
After that win in the tournament opener, Kilgo went on to get three others. Then, in the championship game against Stanford, Kilgo got the start again. This time, though, he didn't get out of the first inning and Stanford went on to win the game and the title.
With the Expos, Kilgo started at short-season Jamestown, getting 30 outings, three starts. He posted an ERA of 1.39. He also saved eight games.
He moved to single-A Rockford for 1990, then high-A West Palm Beach and AA Harrisburg for 1991. Between West Palm Beach and Harrisburg, Kilgo had a 2.08 ERA and six saves.
Kilgo moved to the Reds system shortly into 1992, playing the year at AA Chattanooga and single-A Cedar Rapids. After another year at Chattanooga, Kilgo played all of 1994 at AAA Indianapolis. There, over 50 outings, Kilgo posted a 4.04 ERA.
He returned to Chattanooga again for most of 1995. He also became a closer. Over 54 outings, and a 2.52 ERA, Kilgo saved a total of 29 games. He didn't get his first save until early May. He got his 28th in a late-August outing, without allowing a base runner.
Kilgo's final season came in 1996, with the Padres at AA Memphis. Over 48 outings, he had a 3.65 ERA and two saves, ending his career.
- Prescott Courier, Associated Press, June 5, 1988: Devils top Bears; face Shockers next