Beavers take national title
Published 5:07 pm Tuesday, June 27, 2006
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 UNC, OSUpulled out two victories.
“I think we were picked to lose every game here,” Gunderson said. “We came out and battled hard.”
“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.
North Carolina came right back with two runs in the fifth against Jonah Nickerson, making his third start in eight days.
North Carolina ran itself out of a scoring opportunity in the sixth, and failed to score in the eighth with two runners on. Bard, a first-round pick by Boston, allowed three runs — one earned — and six hits in 7 2-3 innings. Nickerson was selected the series’ Most Outstanding Player.