June 23, 2007

College World Series Capsules

College World Series Schedule and Recaps


Beavers a win away from repeat

Oregon State takes Game 1 from North Carolina


By Sean Ryan

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder


OMAHA, Neb. - In its magical run to the 2006 NCAA college baseball national championship, Oregon State staved off elimination six times in the College World Series, including twice in the championship series against North Carolina.


It took three straight trips to the College World Series, but the Beavers are in the driver's seat.


The reigning champion landed the first blow in its best-of-three rematch for the national title in a big way, hammering the Tar Heels 11-4 Saturday night before a crowd of 26,887 at Rosenblatt Stadium. The Beavers are one win away from becoming the first repeat champion in college baseball since LSU in 1996-97.


"Nothing changes," said Beavers coach Pat Casey of his team's rare advantage. "We go out and we play. And if you play well, you’ve got a chance to win; if you don’t do the little things in the game, it makes it difficult. Fortunately for us, I think we have guys right now who are doing some of the little things that make it easier to minimize opportunities."


Doing those little things has helped Oregon State (48-18) immensely the past few weeks. The Beavers may have been facing extinction entering the final weekend of the year when they took two of three on the road against UCLA. Their reward was a No. 3 seed and a trip to the Charlottesville Regional, where they dropped a 13-inning affair to Virginia, and again faced elimination. OSU responded by winning three straight in the Regional to fuel a 10-1 postseason flurry and put itself in the unimaginable position to win another national title.


"We still feel like it's do or die for us," Beavers shortstop Darwin Barney said.


The Beavers took advantage of another solid start by freshman Jorge Reyes, who worked into the seventh inning and allowed three earned runs in outdueling fellow freshman Alex White of North Carolina. And they got a big lift from the bottom of the order, with 8-hole hitter Jordan Lennerton (2 for 4, 2 R, 2 RBI) staking them to a 2-0 lead with a long two-run homer to right-center in the second inning, and Scott Santschi (1 for 3, R, RBI in the 7-spot) and Lonnie Lechelt (2 for 3, 2 R in the 9-hole) also doing damage.


The Tar Heels (57-15) trailed only 3-2 after Reid Fronk delivered a two-strike, two-out, two-run double in the top of the sixth inning. But the Beavers answered in their half of the sixth with two runs to regain their three-run edge.


White (6-7) started the frame and got the first out but developed a blister and left after Mitch Canham (2 RBI) stroked a single to left. Matt Danford came on and was greeted by Barney, who singled to right field to put runners on the corner. JohnWallace delivered a sacrifice fly before Santschi singled in Barney to make it 5-2.


"For a club like us, we build off chemistry," Barney said. "It just takes a spark to get something going. We truly feel that if we get someone on base, we're going to be better hitters. If we get a hit, it makes the next guy feel more confident. It's just baseball, that's how it goes. And I think that our team really feeds off each other."


North Carolina imploded in the seventh.


Lechelt led off with a walk and stole second. Chris Hopkins, trying to bunt him to third bounced his attempt back to reliever Tyler Trice. Trice heard a call for third, looked that way, then fired low to first where Hopkins beat the short-hop throw. With runners on first and second, Joey Wong sacrificed back to Trice, who uncorked a wild throw down the right-field line, allowing two more runs to score and Wong to scamper all the way to third. Barney later drew a walk with the bases loaded, and pinch-hitter Jason Ogata lifted the Beavers' third sacrifice fly.


"We were beaten by a much better team tonight," Tar Heels coach Mike Fox said. "That's about all you can say. I thought every phase of the game, they did a lot better than we did."


And now, it's the Tar Heels who are fighting for their lives - as they have since losing their second game in Omaha to Rice. While North Carolina can't match Oregon State's six elimination wins from a year ago, two more would give them five for this College World Series and a feeling the Beavers aren't ready to relinquish.


"You've got to get the job done when you're playing for the national championship," said Fronk, who went 2 for 4 with two RBI. "We'll be ready tomorrow, we'll come out and we'll get the job done. It's like Coach said, he's got all the confidence in us and we've got all the confidence in each one of our teammates. So, we'll get the job done for sure."