Oregon State 9, (3) North Carolina 3
Beavers' steady pitching clinches second straight title
Updated: June 25, 2007, 11:16 AM ET
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- The first title was hard for Oregon State. The repeat seemed easy.
Oregon State ended one of the most dominant runs in the 61-year history of the College World Series with a 9-3 victory over North Carolina on Sunday night. The Beavers became the first team in a decade to capture consecutive national titles.
They did it by winning all five of their CWS games, including a sweep of the Tar Heels in the best-of-three finals. The Beavers (49-18) trailed for only one of 45 innings they played in Omaha, and they became the first team to win four CWS games by at least six runs.
"To be able to come to this tremendous tournament -- the best athletic event on the face of the Earth -- and to run through it pretty good, it's pretty special and it's a huge tribute to the guys," Oregon State coach Pat Casey said.
North Carolina (57-15) was runner-up for the second straight year after the first CWS finals rematch since Arizona State and USC met in 1973.
Oregon State is the first back-to-back champion since LSU in 1996-97 and the fifth overall.
To win last year's title, the Beavers had to stave off elimination in four straight games after losing their CWS opener 11-1 to Miami. Then they rebounded from a Game 1 loss in the finals to become the first true northern team since Ohio State in 1966 to win the championship.
There were plenty of trials this season after a 23-3 start. A May swoon left the Beavers in sixth place in the Pacific-10 Conference with a 10-14 league mark, and it nearly cost them a spot in the 64-team national tournament.
They got on a roll at regionals in Virginia and ended their season with 10 straight victories.
"We've had high expectations on us from everybody," shortstop Darwin Barney said. "But every team is gunning for you. Every game you have that bull's eye on your back. Our chemistry has never been questioned, not through the ups and downs. There was always trust and belief on this club."
Barney's two-run homer gave the Beavers the lead in the second inning Sunday, and Jordan Lennerton hit his second homer in two nights, a two-run shot in the eighth.
Bruce Thorson/US Presswire
Oregon State became the first team since LSU in 1997 to repeat as College World Series champs.
The Tar Heels didn't get much going against Oregon State's steady pitching and solid defense, and were shut down whenever they appeared on the verge of a big inning.
Mark Grbavac and Joe Paterson combined to retire the last seven North Carolina batters. Paterson got a called third strike against pinch-hitter Kyle Shelton to end the game and send the Beavers sprinting out of their dugout for the celebratory pile.
"It's crazy. It's just crazy," Casey said. "I just felt like we were going to win. There is something in that dugout."
The Beavers never trailed in any of their first four games at the CWS.
Their closest game here was their first, a 3-2 win over Cal State Fullerton. Victories of 12-6 over Arizona State and 7-1 against UC Irvine got them into the finals.
"When we got here, we were excited to get in that dugout and in that locker room," Barney said. "We feel very comfortable in there. This is home, baby. This is Omaha."
The Beavers knocked out North Carolina starter Luke Putkonen (8-2) in the second inning after Barney lined a pitch over the left-field wall. Another run scored on third baseman Chad Flack's throwing error.
Putkonen, a sophomore, went only 1 2/3 innings in the shortest outing of his career.
Tar Heels coach Mike Fox made a surprise move by bringing in closer Andrew Carignan, whose appearance in the second inning was his earliest in two years. Not even Carignan, who allowed no runs and only one hit in 6 1/3 CWS innings before Sunday, could stop the Beavers.
Schlabach: Beavers' feat
Oregon State's run to a second consecutive College World Series championship was not without its challenges, Mark Schlabach writes. Story
"Any time you can get to their bullpen in the second inning, that's saying something," Beavers left fielder John Wallace said. "We knew the closer couldn't go 7 1/3 innings. We tried to get on him early and we got him out of there in the fifth, and we kept putting it on after that."
Singles by Scott Santschi in the third and Wallace in the fifth stretched the lead to 5-2.
Dustin Ackley hit his second homer of the CWS and 10th of the season to pull North Carolina to 5-3, but Santschi's third RBI single and Chris Hopkins' infield hit made it 7-3 in the seventh.
Ackley's RBI single in the first put North Carolina up 1-0 and ended a streak of 61 innings over seven games in which Oregon State led or was tied. The Beavers hadn't trailed in a CWS game in 50 innings, since the fourth frame of Game 2 of last year's finals.
North Carolina's first three batters reached against Mike Stutes (12-4) in the first and third innings, but the Tar Heels came away with only one run each time.
Ackley homered in the fifth, and two more batters reached before Stutes induced an inning-ending groundout.
After Garrett Gore doubled in the sixth, Anton Maxwell entered and hit Josh Horton to put two runners on with the dangerous Ackley coming up. Ackley drove a liner into left field that Wallace snagged to end the threat.
In the seventh, Tim Fedroff tried to score on Seth Williams' hit to the left-field wall. But Wallace threw to Barney, the shortstop, whose relay home was in plenty of time to get Fedroff at the plate.
"It seemed to be the case the last couple nights that we couldn't get that big hit, whether it's with two out or with someone on base," Fox said. "If we could get one hit, it would spark the rest of us and maybe more would follow. It just wasn't meant to be."
Texas (1949-50), Southern California (1970-74) and Stanford (1987-88) also won consecutive titles.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press