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Vulture’ lives, so do the Beavers
Gunderson works final 5.1 innings to
close out Heels
By Sean Ryan
OMAHA, Neb. –
Early in his Oregon State career, All-American closer Kevin Gunderson
remembers entering a string of four games in the third inning or so, tossing a
few innings while the Beavers battled back and leaving with a win.
“They called me the
vulture,” said Gunderson, a lanky lefty who has saved 19 games for OSU this
season. “It seemed like every time we were down when I came in, and we seemed to
find a way to get some runs and get the lead.”
Go figure that the
biggest save of Gunderson’s career went down as a win.
pick of the Atlanta Braves entered in the top of the fourth inning with his
Beavers down 5-0 and tossed the final 5.1 innings to nail down the win, an 11-7
win over North Carolina that kept OSU’s season alive. Just like the Beavers,
“The Vulture” lives.
Gunderson was told
that he may enter the game as early as the sixth inning – OSU was in a must-win
situation after dropping the first game of the best-of-three championship series
4-3 Saturday night. Those plans had to be changed when the Beavers fell behind
5-0 and were in danger of being blown out.
“They weren’t going
to take me out,” he said of being put in with two outs in the fourth.
There appeared to
be a small window where that might happen. Oregon State scored four times in the
sixth inning to take an 11-5 lead after taking the lead in the fourth with a
“The only thought
we had was that we needed to win this game or we were going home a day earlier
than we want to,” OSU head coach Pat Casey said of possibly taking Gunderson out.
Gunderson allowed a
two-run homer to Tim Federowicz, but otherwise was splendid. He threw 78
pitches, much more than he usually needs to face his normal 4.8 batters a game.
“What more could we
ask for than to go out tomorrow night with one game on the line for a national
championship,” Gunderson said. “There’s no time to be sore and to be hurt right
now. It’s going to be one game tomorrow night. Oregon State vs. North Carolina.”