Beavs outslug N.C., force deciding Game 3

FACING ELIMINATION AGAIN in this College World Series, the Beavs did what they've always done. They won -- and in convincing fashion. Trailing 5-0 in the fourth inning and already down one game to nil in the best of three CWS final, Oregon State exploded for a 7-spot on their way to an 11-7 triumph, forcing tomorrow's finale for all the marbles.

Oregon State scored four runs to close the gap to 5-4 in the fourth inning, playing station-to-station baseball and taking advantage of some Tar Heel miscues. With two outs, 1B Bill Rowe parked a 2-0 curevball deep into the right field stands for a three-run dinger and a 7-5 OSU advanatge.

The Beaver partisans in Omaha went crazy.

There was more for OSU to cheer about in the sixth. Sparked by Tyler Graham's steal of third base, the Beavs put another crooked number up on the board, plating four runs in the home half of the inning.

Kevin Gunderson pitched the final 5 1/3 innings for Oregon State, forcing a decisive Game 3 with the Tar Heels yo be televised on Monday at 4 p.m. PT. The OSU closer hadn't gone more than three innings this year. His longest career outing was a 6 1/3-inning appearance in the first weekend of the 2005 season.

"One of the things we did say is that we would come out and play hard and play with pride," said OSU coach Pat Casey. "That's something I can guarantee Oregon State will always do. You saw a bunch of guys play with heart, guts and determination on the field at Rosenblatt."

Over the Beavers' 12 postseason games, Rowe has driven in 18 and is on an 11-game hitting streak. Sunday, he added an RBI single in the Beavers' four-run sixth inning to his three-run HR and is batting .458 in the CWS with a home run, triple, two doubles, eight RBIs and six runs scored.

OSU SCALDED FOUR Carolina pitchers for 14 hits and five walks Sunday. But the Tar Heels have a fairly rested pitching rotation for Monday while the Beavs may not.

Expected starter Daniel Bard, a first-round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox earlier this month, hasn't pitched since beating Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday. Set-up man Jonathan Hovis and closer Andrew Carignan, considered the Tar Heels' top two relievers, didn't pitch Sunday.

MONDAY'S EXPECTED STARTER for Oregon State is Jonah Nickerson, the "hero of the College World Series" according to ESPN reporter Kyle Peterson.

Nickerson pitched the Beavers to their first win in Omaha, and on two days rest Monday, was absolutely brilliant in the second of two wins over No. 2 seed Rice. With a pitching staff considered as thin by many coming into Monday's finale, OSU may need Nickerson to come up with another sterling effort on short rest if Oregon State is to take the national title home to Corvallis.

IT WOULD APPEAR UNLIKELY that Gunderson, after going 5 1-3 innings Sunday night, could go again on Monday. Then again, this is the final game of the season. It's one game for the World Series title. If the right situation comes up and the Beavs were to have one out left to get, with the tying and go ahead-runs on, would Casey turn to his closer who has been nothing short of spectacular all year?

Said Gunderson after the game, his left arm wrapped in ice; "There's no time to be sore (or) be hurt right now. It's one game, tomorrow night: Oregon State and North Carolina."

"We're playing for a national championship," added OSU shortstop Darwin Barney, who rapped out three hits and a walk in Game 2. "There's nothing better. What's better than one game for one champion?"


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