Saturday, June 23, 2007

Oregon State plays for another title

This of course isn't the Oregon State blog, but we will make an exception today because the Beaver's have reached the championship game again against North Carolina after eliminating a very good Rice team.

For the second straight year, North Carolina and Oregon State will play for the national title. But while the uniforms are the same, these are not the same teams that gave us a true College World Series classic in 2006, when the Beavers won the championship series--now called the CWS Finals--in three riveting games.

For starters, both teams lost their top two starters from a year ago, which is no small matter. Andrew Miller and Daniel Bard were both first-round picks for North Carolina, and Miller was the 2006 Player of the Year. Dallas Buck and Jonah Nickerson had both been All-Americans for Oregon State, and Nickerson was the 2006 CWS Most Outstanding Player. Both teams lost crucial pieces in the bullpen, as OSU had to replace stalwart closer Kevin Gunderson, and UNC lost national ERA leader Jonathan Hovis.

And while North Carolina's only significant loss from its lineup was outfielder Jay Cox, the Beavers had to replace six of their nine starters, including 2006 Pacific-10 Conference player of the year Cole Gillespie.

Yet for all of that, the Beavers and Tar Heels are the last two teams standing again. It's just the second time ever the same two teams have played for the championship in consecutive years, and the first time since Southern California beat Arizona State in 1972-73.

Everything is clicking for Oregon State right now, but getting to this point has not been easy. After starting 22-3, the Beavers slumped badly in conference play. After losing three straight series against Washington, Washington State and Arizona State, the Beavers were teetering on the brink of missing the NCAA tournament, and they knew it. Oregon State had one more chance to prove it was worthy of a spot in regionals--it had to win a series at UCLA over the final weekend of the regular season.

If you are don't have a lot going on today tune into ESPN to watch this classic as an unlikely Northwest team takes on UNC for the national championship for the second consecutive year. Take a little time to root for the Pacific Northwest because champions from our neck of the woods are rare, so when it happens, join the celebration.

Oregon State Wins Game One

Freshman Jorge Reyes gave Oregon State another strong pitching performance, leading the defending champion Beavers to an 11-4 win over North Carolina in Game 1 of the College World Series championship tonight.

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