June 26, 2006

College World Series Capsules

College World Series Schedule and Recaps


Beaver Power!


By Sean Ryan

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder


OMAHA, Neb. – Move over Texas. Excuse me Cal State Fullerton. Pardon me, Clemson. Make way for Oregon State as Georgia, Miami, Rice and North Carolina did the past week at the College World Series.


There’s a new national power among us.


When exactly did the Beavers reach the upper echelon of college baseball?


“Tonight,” joked OSU coach Pat Casey near the plate of Rosenblatt Stadium, the Beavers’ home away from home for one season-saving win after another.


“When those guys came,” he elaborated, talking of guys like Jonah Nickerson, Dallas Buck, Kevin Gunderson and Cole Gillespie. “A lot of them had options to go other places. I said: We can do it, we can win a Pac-10 championship. [OSU sophomore shortstop Darwin] Barney said to me: I remember you telling me that in my front room, I just thought you were kidding me or something.”


All joking aside, the Beavers, who boast 24 players from their home state, have arrived. They pushed their way to the College World Series a year ago, only to go 0-2 and prompt Gunderson to guarantee that they would be back this year. Oregon State was the only team from 2005’s Omaha octet to make it back.


This time, they stuck around a little longer.


“It’s an incredible turnaround,” Gillespie said. “We were here last year, and we wanted to come back this year and stay a little bit longer. After that first butt-whipping that Miami gave us, we just took it one game at a time. And got to this point and two teams battling their butts off.”


Oregon State edged North Carolina 3-2 to win its first national title in baseball.


“Coach Casey has done such a great job of recruiting,” said Nickerson, the CWS Most Outstanding Player. “He’s had some tough breaks with guys signing. Everything just kind of fell together. Freshman year, you could tell we made some improvements in the program. They were always just one step away from being in the regional and making things happen.”


Now, those freshmen are juniors, and the Beavers are national champions.




All-Tournament Team:

Catcher: Tim Federowicz, North Carolina

First Base: Bill Rowe, Oregon State

Second Base: Justin Turner, Cal State Fullerton

Third Base: Shea McFeely, Oregon State

Shortstop: Josh Horton, North Carolina

Outfield: Danny Dorn, Cal State Fullerton

Outfield: Cole Gillespie, Oregon State

Outfield: Jay Cox, North Carolina

Designated Hitter: David Cooper, Cal State Fullerton

Pitcher: Jonah Nickerson, Oregon State

Pitcher: Kevin Gunderson, Oregon State

Most Outstanding Player: Jonah Nickerson, Oregon State




Jonah Nickerson's pitching performance for OSU at the College World Series was reminiscent of John Hudgins' three victories for Stanford in 2003, throwing 350 pitches in three starts. The Cardinal fell to Rice in the championship series.




Oregon State became the third OSU to win baseball’s national championship, joining Oklahoma State and Ohio State. The Beavers kept North Carolina from winning its first national championship and becoming the first ACC team to win the title since Wake Forest in 1955.




Fans held their breath as Kyle Shelton’s seemingly routine ground ball to first with the go-ahead run on second took a tricky hop on Bill Rowe at first. Rowe speared it and underhanded to reliever Eddie Kunz for the final out of the inning.




The Beavers had a near miss as Tyler Graham was the first Oregon State batter to get good aluminum on Daniel Bard’s fastball in the bottom of the sixth. He hit the first pitch of the inning just foul down the line and out of the park. Bard was still throwing 97 mph in the sixth.




While OSU starter Jonah Nickerson’s pitch count escalated quickly in the fifth and sixth innings (39 pitches), UNC starter Daniel Bard tossed 13 pitches in getting six straight outs. Entering the seventh, Nickerson had 87 pitches – and more than 300 in his three starts in seven days – and Bard had 88 pitches.




OSU shortstop Darwin Barney’s throwing error from the hole in the top of the fifth was the Beavers’ first in 51.1 innings. The batter, Jay Cox, came around to score UNC’s first run. The Tar Heels added a run to tie the game at 2 on Mike Cavasinni’s single over third on a 1-2 fastball from Jonah Nickerson.




Coaches often preach to players not to make two errors on the same play. Tar Heels starter Daniel Bard fell victim to that rule as for the second straight game, North Carolina failed to handle the bunt. After Tyler Graham singled on a thigh-high slider and stole second, lefty John Wallace sacrificed toward third. Bard got off the mound fast and may have been thinking he might have a play at third. He misplayed a barehand, then forced a wild throw past Tim Federowicz at first. Second baseman Garrett Gore, backing up the play, corralled the ball and fired home, where Graham was able to slide around Seth Williams for the game’s first run. The official scoring was a sacrifice bunt with two errors charged to Bard – one for allowing Wallace to get first when it was assumed he would be an out from the sacrifice and another for the throwing error.  




OSU leadoff man Darwin Barney forced UNC starter Daniel Bard to throw 14 pitches in his first two at-bats (seven pitches apiece). Bill Rowe also saw seven pitches in his first at-bat, and Cole Gillespie saw seven in his second. Other than those four at-bats, Bard threw only 29 pitches to the other nine batters through the first four innings to total 57 (39 strikes). 




Oregon State second baseman Chris Kunda opened Game 3 with a bang, ranging to his left, laying out for a full-extension dive, spearing Mike Cavasinni’s grounder and getting up to throw him out. He nearly robbed Cavasinni again in the fourth on a chopper up the middle, but Cavasinni was able to beat it out. Kunda nearly made a ridiculous diving play up the middle Sunday night before making a diving play later in the game.




The Monday night championship drew a crowd of 18,565, nearly 8,000 less than Saturday night’s first game. For the entire College World Series, a record 310,609 fans filled Rosenblatt Stadium. The previous record was 263,475 last year in 11 sessions. The average per session was 22,186.




Entering Monday night, the ACC was 1-5 all-time in college baseball national title games. Wake Forest (1955) is the lone champ, while Florida State has lost three title games, Georgia Tech one and the Demon Deacons one.




Beavers coach Pat Casey got a smile and laugh from his players on the podium Sunday night when he commented about his team’s rocky start in falling behind 5-0. “I was just sitting there calm, cool and collected. I didn’t get upset or anything.” He glanced over at his players and smiled. Their smiles and laughs verified that there may have been a few non-publishable words and a little more emotion out of Casey.




A reporter asking a question after OSU’s win Sunday made the statement that Oregon State and the baseball national championship didn’t sound good together. While everyone knew what he meant, the Beavers’ Bill Rowe smiled and said: “Oregon State and national championship does sound good together.”




North Carolina and Oregon State each were shooting for their first national title in college baseball. The Tar Heels entered Monday night with 31 national titles under their belt. The Beavers had one (track and field).




A neat nugget courtesy of Kip Carlson in the OSU media relations department – Beavers fans may have been familiar with the name Chad Flack before meeting UNC’s corner infielder in the Championship Series. OSU gives the most improved wrestler the Chad Flack Memorial Award; the award is named for former wrestler Chad Flack (1993-96), who died in a car accident several years after graduating from OSU.




North Carolina entered Monday having lost two games in a row only three times all season, and Georgia Tech was the only team to win two in a row against the Heels. Oregon State also has lost back-to-back games three times all year after beating UNC Sunday night.




Oregon State snapped North Carolina’s nine-game postseason winning streak on Sunday night and improved to 5-0 in the College World Series when facing elimination.