Oregon State returns to hero's welcome
CORVALLIS, Ore. -- A fan hoisted a sign that said it all: Sweet Repeat.
The Oregon State Beavers returned home on Monday after winning their second straight national championship at the College World Series. They were greeted by some six thousand fans who gathered on the Corvallis campus.
"How sweet it is," said catcher Mitch Canham. "How sweet it is."
The Beavers swept North Carolina for the second straight year to win their second straight title. They are became the first team since 1996-97 to repeat.
Oregon State (49-18) was so dominant, the team trailed only one of 45 innings at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb.
Canham had told his teammates that they couldn't have a dogpile until after winning the national championship. The Beavers got their celebration after beating North Carolina 9-3 on Sunday evening.
"It was special. When we got through the regional, and then the super regional, Mitch kept saying, 'Let's save it,'" shortstop Darwin Barney said. "So when we finally did it, we were celebrating the whole thing."
Things didn't look as positive for the Beavers late this season, when they had lost seven of nine games and were looking at the possibility that they wouldn't get selected for the tournament.
But the Beavers closed out the on the road by winning two of three against UCLA.
"Something special happened," Barney said. "We had our backs against the wall and something special happened."
The Beavers finished the season with 10 straight wins, after sneaking into the 64-team NCAA tournament with a sixth place finish in the Pacific-10 Conference. Oregon State became the first team to win four CWS games by six runs or more.
It was almost easier than a year ago, when Oregon State lost its CWS opener 11-1 to Miami. The Beavers staved off elimination four straight times to make it to the finals against North Carolina. They came back from a loss in Game 1 to win the title.
It was sunny and warm in Corvallis on Monday, when the Beavers arrived for the rally outside the football stadium. Freshman pitcher Jorge Reyes, named the Most Valuable Player in Omaha, carried the trophy.
"It feels pretty good right now," coach Pat Casey told the crowd.
Barney and Canham, the only two position players that returned from last year's championship team, were both drafted and are expected to forego their senior years. The crowd nevertheless implored them by chanting" "One more year!"
The rematch from last year was the first since 1972-73, when Southern California beat Arizona State twice in a row during a string of championships from 1970-74.
Oregon State is first back-to-back champion since LSU in 1996-97 and the fifth overall. Texas (1949-50) and Stanford (1987-88) also won consecutive titles.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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