Seven-run 4th keys OSU past UNC; series tied 1-1
OMAHA, Neb. -- Oregon State wanted to come out and make a statement against North Carolina.
|Pat Forde's take|
Five times in this CWS, the Beavers have taken the field on the verge of elimination. Five times, they have hocked a loogie into the eye of defeat and played on. They're harder to kill than crabgrass, tougher to evict than Cindy Sheehan outside W's ranch.
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Falling behind by five runs early wasn't exactly what the Beavers had in mind.
"I'd say we were pretty frustrated," shortstop Darwin Barney said. "We planned on coming out with a vengeance."
It just took a few innings.
The Beavers stormed back with a seven-run fourth inning, capped by Bill Rowe's three-run homer, and Oregon State forced a deciding game in the championship round of the College World Series with an 11-7 comeback victory Sunday night.
"You saw a bunch of young men with heart, guts and determination take the field here at Rosenblatt, and hopefully, that's one for the memories," coach Pat Casey said.
Oregon State (49-16) and North Carolina (54-14) will play Monday night, with the winner taking home its first national title in baseball.
"We're good to get this first win, but we've got a lot of business to take care of, so there's no party tonight," Barney said. "We're playing for a national championship. There's nothing better. What's better than one game for one champion?"
The Beavers are trying to become the first Pac-10 team to win the College World Series since Southern California in 1998. The Tar Heels hope to become the first Atlantic Coast Conference team to win it since Wake Forest in 1955.
Rowe went 2-for-5 with four RBI, and closer Kevin Gunderson (3-2) pitched a season-high 5 1/3 relief innings as the Beavers ended the Tar Heels' nine-game winning streak.
"After we got that big lead, everyone kind of calmed down and we were just kind of putting it on cruise control," Tar Heels catcher Tim Federowicz said. "After that, they just came back."
With Oregon State down 5-0 in the fourth, Tyler Graham was hit by a pitch leading off and stole third after John Wallace's single.
"When Tyler stole that bag at third, I think it was just a message that we're not surrendering," Casey said.
Chris Kunda walked to load the bases, and Shea McFeely followed with a two-run double. Matt Danford (7-2) came on in relief of starter Robert Woodard and struck out Scott Santschi for the first out, but things unraveled quickly for the Tar Heels.
Barney singled past a diving Reid Fronk at third and Josh Horton at short to make it 5-3. Danford then threw a wild pitch that bounced in front of Federowicz, deflected off his right shin guard and into the Beavers' dugout to force in a run.
Mitch Canham drew a walk, and one out later, Rowe turned on a 2-0 pitch and sent it into the lower level of seats in right field to give Oregon State a 7-5 lead. The Beavers greeted Rowe at the plate with chest bumps and slaps on the back, knowing they had turned the momentum in their favor.
"It took a couple of hits, it took a spark," Barney said. "That's the thing about the college game, one spark can change the whole attitude of your team."
The scoring outburst ended a 12 2/3-inning shutout streak in Omaha by the Tar Heels' bullpen. Danford allowed six runs and four hits in 2 1/3 innings.
"We opened the door and, boy, they really took advantage of it," North Carolina coach Mike Fox said. "We talked all year, as I'm sure all teams do, about limiting the big inning. It was a little unusual for us, especially of late."
The Beavers took an 11-5 lead with four more runs in the sixth on an RBI single by Rowe, Graham's run-scoring bunt single, Kunda's sacrifice fly and Federowicz's passed ball that allowed Graham to score.
Federowicz, 4-for-4 with four RBI, hit a two-run homer off Gunderson -- after Jay Cox was hit by a pitch -- in the seventh to get the Tar Heels within four.
North Carolina, which has scored 10 of its 11 runs in the championship series with two outs, did it again in the second when Federowicz singled, moved to second on Seth Williams' base hit and scored on Matt Spencer's single to take a 1-0 lead.
North Carolina scored three runs with two outs in the third on Chad Flack's RBI single and Federowicz's two-run double off starter Mike Stutes to take a 4-0 lead.
Fronk's RBI single -- also with two outs -- in the fourth made it 5-0. Oregon State turned to Gunderson with two outs in the inning, and the closer shut down the Tar Heels and set up one more game for it all.
"There's a lot of teams sitting at home wishing they were in this spot right now," said Gunderson, his left shoulder wrapped in ice. "There's no time to be sore, and be hurt right now. It's one game, tomorrow night: Oregon State and North Carolina."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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