Oregon State holds on to oust Georgia from CWS
OMAHA, Neb. -- For the second straight year, Jonah Nickerson gave Oregon State seven strong innings of pitching at the College World Series.
This time he was rewarded.
Nickerson allowed two runs on four hits and the Beavers survived anxious moments in the eighth and ninth to eliminate Georgia with a 5-3 victory Monday.
A year ago, in the Beavers' first CWS game since 1952, Nickerson (12-4) allowed two runs in seven innings and ended up a 3-1 loser to Tulane.
The difference Monday was that the Beavers gave Nickerson a 4-1 lead.
"This year it was a little easier to pitch and let the defense play for me because we had that early lead," he said. "Later in the game, I just went after hitters."
Chris Kunda drove in two runs and the Beavers (45-15) turned three double plays while advancing to a Tuesday game against Miami.
The Beavers bounced back from Saturday's 11-1 loss to Miami to win for the first time in six CWS games. They were outscored 46-13 in their five previous games in Omaha.
Coach Pat Casey said the win represents another step in his program's evolution.
"There have been some milestones to reach -- sometimes it's winning a series against Arizona State or Stanford, then the next thing is to finish in the top four or five in your conference and then maybe to win a conference championship," Casey said.
The Beavers may look back on their breakthrough victory with greater appreciation some day. For now, they're simply trying to stay alive in Bracket 2.
"Today was one of those deals where we had nothing to lose," center fielder Tyler Graham said. "We went two-and-cue last year, and we were hungry for a win. Hopefully we'll keep going."
Georgia's loss means the Southeastern Conference was winless in the CWS for the first time since 1994, when Auburn and LSU went a combined 0-4.
The Bulldogs lost Saturday's opener 6-4 to Rice, going six innings without a hit against the Owls' Eddie Degerman.
"Degerman and Nickerson, that's tough," Georgia coach David Perno said. "It was just a tough draw."
Jonathan Wyatt's home run was the only hit Nickerson allowed in the first four innings. Georgia (47-23) converted three hits into a run in the fifth.
Nickerson walked none and struck out three before Kevin Gunderson came in to start the eighth.
Gunderson, who earned his 18th save, gave up a two-out RBI single to Bobby Felmy that pulled Georgia to 5-3. Then Gunderson got Josh Morris, the Bulldogs' career home run leader, to fly out to center to end the inning.
Matt Olson and Ryan Peisel reached in the ninth, but Gordon Beckham hit into a game-ending double play.
Oregon State also got out of potential trouble with double plays in the fifth and sixth innings.
"The double plays ripped our hearts out three times," Perno said. "If they don't get those, who knows what happens. We had three big double plays at the worst times."
The Beavers took a 2-0 lead against Georgia starter Mickey Westphal (7-3). Wyatt homered for Georgia in the third to get within a run, but fourth-inning RBI singles by Kunda and Darwin Barney made it 4-1.
The Bulldogs got a run back in the fifth on Matthew Dunn's RBI single, but it was 5-2 in the top of the eighth after Shea McFeely doubled and scored on Mike Lissman's single.
Gunderson said he and his teammates did a good job of "flushing away" the 10-run loss to Miami.
"It comes to one more loss and our season is over," he said. "We know how it felt last year. We didn't want that sour taste again."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press