June 24, 2007

College World Series Capsules

College World Series Schedule and Recaps


Beavers Do It Again

Oregon State rolls past North Carolina to win second straight national title


By Sean Ryan

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder


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.”


Oregon 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 games.


“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 celebration.


“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 – won’t disagree.


“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.”