Beavers Rally from Five Down to Force Deciding Game of Series
June 25, 2006
OMAHA, Neb. - Bill Rowe's three-run homer capped Oregon State's seven-run fourth inning as the Beavers rallied from a five-run deficit and went on to beat North Carolina 11-7 in the College World Series championship series Sunday night at Rosenblatt Stadium. Closer Kevin Gunderson pitched the final 5 1/3 innings for OSU (49-16 overall) as it evened the best-of-three series at a win apiece and forces a decisive game with the Tar Heels (54-14) on Monday at 4 p.m. PDT.
Monday's game can be seen on the ESPN cable network; all of the Beavers' games in the CWS can be heard on KEJO-AM (1240) in the Corvallis area, KUIK-AM (1360) in the Portland area, KKNX-AM (840) in the Eugene area, KRNR-AM (1490) in the Roseburg area, KMED-AM (1440) in the Medford area, KICE-AM (940) in the Bend area and KNPT-AM (1310) in the Newport area.
On Sunday night, Oregon State trailed 5-0 in the middle of the fourth inning and North Carolina had already chased two Beaver pitchers from the game with a run in the second inning, three in the third and one in the fourth. Then came the Beavers seven-run bottom of the fourth inning, with the last three runs crossing the plate as Rowe hit his sixth homer of the season well into the rightfield bleachers.
'Last night when were here, we didn't say a whole lot,' OSU head coach Pat Casey said, recalling the Beavers being in the interview room after UNC took a 4-3 win with a run in the eighth inning. 'But one of the things we did say is that we would come out and play hard and play with pride. That's something I can guarantee Oregon State will always do.
'You saw a bunch of guys play with heart, guts and determination on the field at Rosenblatt.'
Rowe, who also had a added a run-scoring single in the Beavers' four-run sixth inning, is now batting .458 (11-for-24) in the College World Series with a home run, a triple, two doubles, eight runs batted in and six runs scored. In OSU's 12 postseason games, Rowe has driven in 18 runs and he now has an 11-game hitting streak.
'He threw me a low inside curveball on the first pitch (of the at-bat) and I had a checked swing,' Rowe said of his sixth homer of the season. 'I was looking for a pitch in the zone. The home run pitch was similar to the pitch where I checked my swing, but it was a little more over the plate.'
Rowe's homer completed a total momentum shift that had begun when UNC starter Robert Woodard hit Tyler Graham with a pitch to lead off the sixth inning. John Wallace singled to center, then Graham stole third and Chris Kunda walked to load the bases for Shea McFeely. McFeely turned on the first pitch and drove it down the leftfield line for a two-run double that sent Woodard from the game.
'He went out there and set the tone,' OSU shortstop Darwin Barney said of McFeely's liner into the corner. 'It only takes one person to get it going, then everyone started hitting.'
Reliever Matt Danford then struck out Scott Santschi to keep the runners at second and third, but Barney singled through the left side to score Kunda and make it 5-3, then a wild pitch plated McFeely to pull OSU within 5-4 and send Barney to third. After Canham walked on a full-count pitch and Cole Gillespie struck out, Rowe homered on a two-ball, no-strike pitch to give the Beavers the lead.
'I have to give a lot of credit to Oregon State,' North Carolina head coach Mike Fox said. 'They made the plays. It's a tale of two games. We felt good with the lead and then we opened the door for OSU and they took advantage of it ... we've talked about not giving up the big inning, and we just couldn't prevent that tonight.'
Once they had the lead, the Beavers left things in the hands of Gunderson, who had recorded the final out in the top of the fourth inning. He hadn't gone more than three innings this season, but did have a 6 1/3-inning appearance in the first weekend of the 2005 season and a five-inning appearance in 2004.
'They weren't going to take me out,' said Gunderson, who allowed two runs on four hits and no walks while striking out two as his record improve to 3-2 this season. 'I was in the same situation versus Baylor last year (when OSU was eliminated from the CWS in a 10-inning loss). I knew it was my ballgame to win or lose.'
OSU gave him more of a cushion with the four runs in the sixth inning to go in front 11-5; the inning included run-scoring singles by Rowe and Graham, a sacrifice fly by Kunda and the final run scoring on a passed ball. Then in the top of the seventh came the only runs Gunderson would allow, as with two out he hit Jay Cox with a pitch and then Tim Federowicz homered into a stiff wind blowing in from leftfield. From then on, the only baserunner Gunderson allowed came on a two-out triple in the ninth.
The Beavers helped him out with some tremendous defense, including a pair of acrobatic stops by second baseman Chris Kunda.
'I really feel this is the best infield, defensively, that I've seen all year long,' Casey said. 'I've seen them do it all year long.'
The Beavers had gotten down early when three straight two-out singles scored a run in the first inning against OSU starter Mike Stutes. In the third, a one-out double by Reid Fronk and a two-out single by Chad Flack made it 2-0, then Cox's double to right-center put runners at second and third. Stutes induced a fly ball to deep right from Federowicz; OSU rightfielder John Wallace battled the wind and couldn't come up with the ball as it fell for a two-run double that put UNC up 4-0. The Tar Heels then added a run on Fronk's run-scoring single to center in the fourth against OSU reliever Daniel Turpen for a 5-0 lead.
'We were feeling pretty frustrated,' Barney said. 'It's not the way we wanted to start the day. We wanted to come out with a vengeance, and we didn't come out with the plan we wanted to.'
Barney, Mitch Canham and John Wallace all finished the night 3-for-4 for OSU. Stutes went through the third inning in his second start of the CWS, allowing four runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out three.