Nickerson, Canham Pace Beavers Past St. John's, 11-1

June 5, 2005

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Mitch Canham had four hits - including three doubles - and Jonah Nickerson struck out nine as he pitched a complete game for second-ranked Oregon State in an 11-1 win over St. John's in the winners bracket game of the NCAA baseball Corvallis Regional on Saturday evening at Goss Stadium at Coleman Field. The win before a sellout crowd of 2,609 advanced OSU (43-9 overall) into the championship game of the tournament.

The Beavers will wait for the result of Sunday's 1:05 p.m. game between St. John's (40-17) and Ohio State (40-19), then play the winner at 6:05 p.m. An Oregon State win in that game would send the Beavers to next weekend's Super Regionals; an OSU loss means the same two teams would meet Monday at 2 p.m. with the Super Regional berth going to the winner.

'It's awesome,' OSU first baseman Andy Jenkins said of being one win away from advancing. 'It's what we've been working on all year and getting to do it at home is even more special. We're going to come out prepared, ready to go tomorrow.'

Coming into the Corvallis Regional, Oregon State had only faced St. John's once in baseball, that back in 1970. By the end of Saturday evening, OSU was very familiar with St. John's as the Beavers shelled out 14 hits.

Canham tied his career high with four of those, and the three doubles tied OSU's single-game record for two-base hits. In the tournament, he's 6-for-8 with three doubles, one home run and six runs batted in.

'I'm just trying to be patient and lay off the off-speed stuff,' Canham said. 'I thank God for giving me good eyesight for the weekend and I hope we stay with it.'

Nickerson scattered seven hits and didn't allow a run until the ninth inning, pitching his first complete game of the season and the second of his career. The sophomore righthander didn't walk a batter, and the nine strikeouts were just one short of his career high.

'It all starts on the mound,' OSU head coach Pat Casey said. 'When that guy (Nickerson) keeps putting zeros on the board, we have the freedom to do some things.'

Nickerson's effort gave the Beavers a new school record for strikeouts in a season by the entire pitching staff. OSU's 427 this season top the 421 of the 1998 Beavers.

'I was just trying to stick with the same game plan,' Nickerson said. 'Getting the runs gave me confidence knowing we were going to score more runs.'

Much of the first four innings was relatively quiet, as OSU took a 1-0 lead on Ryan Gipson's two-out, run-scoring single through the right side in the second inning. In the fifth inning, however, the Beavers began to break things open with the help of a St. John's miscue.

Jacoby Ellsbury led off the inning with a walk and stole second. Tyler Graham then grounded to Red Storm shortstop P.J. Antoniato and Ellsbury headed for third; Antoniato threw to third baseman Jim Martin well ahead of Ellsbury. Ellsbury retreated toward second with Martin in pursuit, but Antoniato got in his way and was called for interference. Ellsbury was awarded second and Graham was safe at first on the fielder's choice.

Darwin Barney sacrificed the runners to second and third. Jenkins then drove a one-ball, no-strike pitch over the head of Red Storm center fielder Greg Thomson to drive in both runners.

Canham followed with his second double of the evening, driving home Jenkins to make the score 4-0. Before the inning ended, Cole Gillespie added a RBI single to make the score 5-0. St. John's starter Jim Wladyka lasted 4 1/3 innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on five hits and three walks while striking out one.

'It gave me confidence out there knowing we were going to score runs,' Nickerson said. 'As the game went on, we kept scoring more runs and I just kept on building more confidence.'

As Nickerson continued to mow down Red Storm hitters, the Beavers added a run in the sixth inning on another Canham RBI double before putting the game out of reach against the Red Storm bullpen in the eighth.

Back-to-back singles by Ellsbury and Graham were followed by a Barney walk to load the bases. After getting Jenkins to pop out to third, Canham singled home two more runs. Shea McFeely was hit by a pitch to re-load the bases, then Gillespie hit a sacrifice fly to make the score 9-1. Mike Lissman walked and Chris Kunda drove the first pitch into left field, scoring Canham and McFeely to put the game out of reach at 11-1.