Beavers Do It Again
Oregon State rolls
North Carolina to win second straight national title
OMAHA, Neb. – Oregon State was on a late-night ride home from Portland
after taking two of three at UCLA the last weekend of the regular season when
the bus made an unexpected stop.
“We had to pull over because Coach got a call from the committee,” remembered
Beavers left fielder John Wallace. “He told us they were still deciding on it.
Before the last game at UCLA, everyone was pretty confident about it, but I
think the mood kind of changed.”
State, the defending national champion who had fought off elimination six times
in the 2006 College World Series, had another fight on its hands – to get into
the NCAA tournament.
The Beavers won that fight – and remarkably – 11 of their next 12 fights,
culminated by a methodical 9-3 beating of North Carolina Sunday night to capture
college baseball’s national title for the second straight year. A crowd of
25,012 at Rosenblatt Stadium witnessed as Oregon State (49-18) became the first
College World Series repeat champion since LSU in 1996-97 and fifth all-time.
North Carolina (57-16) lost consecutive games for just the third time all season
in dropping their second straight championship series to the Beavers, just about
the only team in the country that has its number.
“People didn’t think we were supposed to be in the tournament, but look at our
record,” said catcher Mitch Canham, who went 2 for 4 with a pair of runs in the
clincher. “We won a lot of games, we deserved to be here, we deserved to win
this. We were good enough to do it.”
Added College World Series Most Outstanding Player Jorge Reyes as the Beaver
Nation erupted when the Beavers were honored at home plate: “Listen to this!
It’s the best feeling in the world, it hasn’t hit me yet.”
When it does, Reyes and the rest of the Beavers will recognize that they rolled
through the College World Series with an unblemished record, limiting its
opponents to four or fewer runs and winning by six or more in four of their five
“To be able to come to this tremendous tournament – the best athletic event on
the face of the earth – and to run through it pretty good is pretty special,”
OSU coach Pat Casey said.
The Tar Heels jumped on top in the first when Dustin Ackley (2 for 4, 2 RBI)
singled in Reid Fronk (2 runs) six pitches into the bottom of the first, marking
the first time in 61 innings that the Beavers trailed. But like Reyes the night
before, OSU starter Mike Stutes worked out of a second-and-third, one-out jam.
Tim Fedroff grounded to Jordan Lennerton, who was playing a bit deeper than
halfway at first. Lennerton fired home to get Josh Horton at the plate, and Seth
Williams’ hard shot was corralled by Chris Hopkins in center.
Darwin Barney (2 for 5, 2 RBI, set school record with 238 hits) put the Beavers on top for good with a two-run
missile off Luke Putkonen (8-2) that whispered past the fence in left field (after failing on a
sacrifice), and another run came in when Tar Heels third baseman Chad Flack’s
throw on a slow bouncer from Chris Hopkins pulled Ackley off the bag at first
for a 3-1 lead. UNC turned to closer Andrew Carignan to quell the uprising.
Carolina loaded the bases when Stutes (12-4) sandwiched Horton’s second hit with
walks to Fronk and Ackley. But, the Tar Heels could only muster Tim Federowicz’s
RBI grounder in a frame that started with promise but ended in frustration.
“To win the national championship, you obviously have to have pitching,” Horton
said. “They held us to four or less runs both nights, so you have to give all
the credit in the world to them.”
Ackley homered to get the Tar Heels to 5-3 in the fifth, and they threatened
again in the sixth, but Ackley’s laser to left was hauled in by Wallace.
OSU then dropped two on UNC in the top of the seventh, when Scott Santschi (3
for 3, 2 RBI) singled in Wallace (3 for 4, 2 R), who had tripled. Santschi
scored on Hopkins’ RBI single. The Tar Heels' hopes faded further when Fedroff
was gunned down at the plate on a perfect relay from Wallace in left to Barney
to Canham at the plate.
In the ninth, Lennerton blasted a two-run homer to center, his second homer in
as many days, and the Beavers were moments away from a second straight
“What an unbelievable accomplishment, that is, to win back-to-back national
championships,” North Carolina coach Mike Fox said.
The Beavers, who became the first team to win the national title with a losing
conference record, and their fans – and the rest of the college baseball world –
“It feels pretty good,” Canham deadpanned to TV cameras on the field after the
win. “I don’t know what to say, it’s unreal.”
Added Reyes: “Mike Lissman said every day in the locker room that they’re going
to have to rip these jerseys off our back. Nobody could do it. We’re too much of
warriors, and we have too much heart.”