Oregon State Wins First Baseball National Title With Dramatic 3-2 Victory Over UNC
June 26, 2006
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -Bill Rowe scored the go-ahead run on second baseman Bryan Steed's throwing error in the bottom of the eighth inning, and Oregon State held on to beat North Carolina 3-2 for its first College World Series title Monday night.
The Beavers (50-16) became the first team in CWS history to lose twice in Omaha and win the national championship. Oregon State also is the first truly Northern-based school to win the series since Ohio State in 1966.
'You've got to be lucky to win a national championship,' closer Kevin Gunderson said. 'We got the right breaks when we needed them. Someone was looking out over our heads tonight. For everyone who doubted us all year, it proves we can play ball.'
With the game tied at 2 in the eighth, Rowe drew a two-out walk and Tyler Graham blooped a single into left. Tar Heels ace Andrew Miller, the No. 6 overall pick by Detroit, came on in relief of Daniel Bard and got pinch-hitter Ryan Gipson to one-hop a grounder to Steed.
The second baseman, who came in as a defensive replacement in the fifth, threw wide and past first baseman Tim Federowicz for the Tar Heels' fourth error of the game as Rowe slid into home with the go-ahead run. The Beavers stormed out of their dugout and mobbed Rowe as the Tar Heels (54-15) grew silent on the other side of the field.
'I probably got rid of it too quick,' Steed said.
North Carolina put two runners on against Dallas Buck (13-3) with one out in the ninth, but Gunderson got Josh Horton to hit into a fielder's choice, and - with the tying run on third - got slugger Chad Flack to fly out to center to end it.
Gunderson, who won Game 2 by pitching a season-high 5 1-3 relief innings, threw his glove and hat in the air, and waited as his teammates ran to the mound and piled on each other in celebration.
The victory concluded a remarkable run for the Beavers, who lost their first game in Omaha but reached the championship with four straight wins. After losing Game 1 to North Carolina, Oregon State pulled out two victories.
'I think we were picked to lose every game here,' Gunderson said. 'We came out and battled hard.'
The Tar Heels had a chance in the eighth when they loaded the bases with one out, but Buck - making his first relief appearance of the season - struck out Seth Williams. Buck got ahead in the count on Benji Johnson, when Horton sprinted home from third, but Johnson swung through a pitch out of the strike zone to end the inning.
'They were tough,' said North Carolina coach Mike Fox, fighting back tears. 'Obviously, it's a huge disappointment for us. To get this close and not win it certainly is disappointing.'
Oregon State scored twice against Bard (9-4) in the fourth, helped by two errors on one play by the pitcher.
After Graham hit a leadoff single and stole second, John Wallace bunted to the right side of the mound. Bard dashed over and barehanded the ball, but dropped it for an error. He picked it up and threw to first, but the throw sailed past Federowicz. Second baseman Garrett Gore backed up the errant toss and threw home, but Graham slid headfirst ahead of Johnson's tag, and the Beavers stormed out of the dugout to greet him.
After Chris Kunda sacrificed Wallace to second, Shea McFeely's single to center made it 2-0.
North Carolina came right back with two runs in the fifth against Jonah Nickerson, making his third start in eight days for the Beavers.
Jay Cox reached on shortstop Darwin Barney's throwing error and scored one out later on Seth Williams' double to right-center that rolled all the way to the wall. Johnson followed with a single to put runners on first and third, and Mike Cavasinni lined a single over third baseman McFeely one out later to tie it at 2.
North Carolina ran itself out of a scoring opportunity in the sixth. Horton led off with a single, and one out later, Cox hit a hard grounder that deflected off Nickerson's left leg and into right field, putting runners on first and third.
Federowicz followed with a grounder to third that McFeely fielded and threw home, and catcher Mitch Canham tagged a sliding Horton for the out. Canham, seeing Cox rounding second, threw to Kunda and caught Cox in a rundown, with shortstop Barney tagging him out to end the inning.
Bard, a first-round pick by Boston, allowed three runs - one earned - and six hits in 7 2-3 innings.
Nickerson, the crafty and gutsy right-hander who was selected the series' Most Outstanding Player, allowed two unearned runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings. He came out after his 100th pitch - getting Steed to ground out - and received a standing ovation from the 18,565 at Rosenblatt Stadium, even from the powder blue-clad North Carolina fans.