Fourth-ranked Beavers Drop Championship Series Opener to North Carolina

June 25, 2006

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Oregon State saw North Carolina push across a run in the bottom of the eighth inning as the No. 8-ranked Beavers lost to the No. 9 Tar Heels 4-3 Saturday night in the opening game of the College World Series championship series at Rosenblatt Stadium. OSU (48-16 overall) now has to beat North Carolina (54-13) Sunday at 4 p.m. PDT to force a deciding game in the series that would be played Monday.

Sunday's game can be seen on ESPN2; 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.

'I think we're a little disappointed,' OSU head coach Pat Casey said after the loss. 'We had opportunities to score and let those get away. We got a good start out of Dallas (Buck, OSU's starting pitcher) and we played tremendous defense ... we're certainly capable of coming back. We'll play and play hard.'

Added OSU outfielder Cole Gillespie, whose 13th homer of the season had given OSU a 3-2 lead in the top of the sixth inning: 'We've had our backs against the wall since we got here. We're disappointed - we had an opportunity and felt like we should have won the ballgame.'

The winning run came as UNC first baseman Chad Flack, who was 4-for-4 on the night, poked a triple into the rightfield corner against OSU reliever Joe Paterson. Flack then scored when a pitch got past OSU catcher Mitch Canham, Canham's toss to Paterson covering the plate made it a close play but Flack was able to sneak past Paterson as he tried to apply the tag.

'It got past,' Canham said of the play. 'They scored. They win.'

A championship series-record crowd of 26,808 sat through a 1-hour, 11-minute rain and lightning delay with OSU holding that 3-2 lead on Gillespie's two-run homer hit just moments before the game was halted.

'After seeing him (UNC starter Andrew Miller) a couple of times, he was throwing all sliders,' Gillespie said. 'I think I saw one pitch that was a fastball. I did sit on a slider over the plate and got a good swing on it.'

Buck, who had been knocked around by Miami (Fla.) the previous Saturday night in OSU's 11-1 loss that opened the CWS, was back in form against UNC. He allowed a pair of runs on a walk and three two-out hits in the first inning, but the hits were a pair of groundballs through the infield and a bloop to center. He wound up going 6 1/3 innings and allowing three runs on nine hits and one walk while striking out four.

'I felt the same way I felt when I started the game,' Buck said of coming back after the delay. 'I don't think it had any effect on how I pitched ... I felt fine. I don't think I felt good all year; I felt the same tonight as I have all year. My job is to leave the game with the lead. Any time I don't do that, I'm disappointed.'

After getting out of the first inning, Buck allowed just two baserunners in the second through fifth innings. He went back to the mound after the delay, similar to a situation at Washington State in May when he waited out a 34-minute lightning delay in the sixth inning and returned to the game to finish a three-hitter.

This time, Flack and Jay Cox started the sixth inning with line-drive singles, just the second and third well-hit balls of the game against Buck. OSU shortstop Darwin Barney and second baseman Chris Kunda then turned a highlight-reel double play on a ball hit by Tim Federowicz into the hole between second and third as Flack advanced to third, but Seth Williams followed that with a single up the middle to plate the tying run.

OSU had chased North Carolina lefthander Andrew Miller - the sixth overall pick in this month's Major League Baseball amateur draft - with Gillespie's homer; he didn't return to the game after the delay in the sixth inning. Pitchers taken in the first round of the draft are now 1-4 against the Beavers this season and Miller received a no decision.

When play resumed, reliever Matt Danford issued a pair of walks but the Beavers couldn't plate another run. The Beavers also had two runners on in the eighth and couldn't score, hit into double plays in the first and second innings and left a pair of runners on in the eighth.

'We had opportunities to score and we let those slip away,' Casey said. 'We can't let opportunities get away with runners in scoring position.'

OSU picked up its first run in the top of the third. Chris Kunda hit a ball to the top of the wall in leftfield; the ball wound up in the seats but it was ruled that a fan had leaned over the wall and scooped up the ball, so Kunda was awarded a double due to fan interference. Canham's bunt single advanced Kunda to third, and he scored on Barney's sacrifice fly.

Oregon State did put the tying run in scoring position in the ninth inning after Chris Kunda drew a leadoff walk from UNC's Jonathan Hovis and was sacrificed to second by Canham. The Tar Heels then brought in closer Andrew Carignan to face the top of the order, and he struck out Darwin Barney and John Wallace to end the game.

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