OMAHA, Neb. &
In one month, Oregon State has gone from uncertainty about making the NCAA tournament to taking the final step toward playing for a second straight national championship.
The Beavers are back in the College World Series' championship round after a 7-1 victory over UC Irvine on Wednesday night that ended the Anteaters' dramatic postseason run.
Oregon State (47-18), looking to become the first repeat champion since LSU in 1997, plays the winner of Thursday's Rice-North Carolina game in the best-of-three finals starting Saturday.
"I don't know what the odds were three weeks ago," Oregon State coach Pat Casey said. "I'm just happy for the guys. It's kind of deja vu the way it turned out here."
Daniel Turpen allowed five hits over eight innings and Mitch Canham homered and drove in three runs in the Beavers' 11th win in 13 games since a May swoon when they lost seven of nine. They tied for sixth place in the Pacific-10 and relied on their 28-3 non-conference record to make the tournament as an at-large pick.
"When we were going through our skid, we knew it's just part of baseball," said Darwin Barney, who had two RBI singles Wednesday. "We've always been confident and have known that we're a good club, and it was just a matter of putting things together."
The Beavers have gotten three strong outings from their starting pitchers at the CWS. Turpen (10-1) didn't allow a hit after Ollie Linton's single in the fourth, and Joe Paterson pitched a perfect ninth.
Turpen said the overflow crowd at Rosenblatt Stadium motivated him.
"It's exciting going out there in front of 29,913 people," he said, reading the attendance off the box score. "It's something I like to thrive on, seeing all those people expecting you, a national champion, to play like a national champion."
The Beavers' route to the championship series was much smoother this year. In 2006, the Beavers lost their CWS opener to Miami 11-1, then staved off elimination for four straight games to reach the finals.
This year they advanced by beating Cal State Fullerton 3-2 and Arizona State 12-6 before meeting a UC Irvine team that had won three of its previous four games in its last at-bat.
"Irvine, they're such a good club, and they've been thriving off these comebacks," Barney said. "We knew if we got ahead and our pitching was good enough, we would have a good chance today."
It was a disappointing finish for the Anteaters (47-17-1), who reinstated their baseball program in 2002 and were making their first CWS appearance.
"Well, a magical run has come to an end, unfortunately," UC Irvine coach Dave Serrano said. "I'm hoping it's next year, but it might take some time before we're able to assemble a group of young men who are committed to each other and a program and a coaching staff as much as these guys were."
The Anteaters captured the hearts of local fans by rebounding from an opening loss to Arizona State to win extra-inning games against Fullerton and Arizona State in their final at-bats.
The 13-inning win over Fullerton took 5 hours, 40 minutes, the longest game in CWS history. The 10-inning win over ASU came after the Anteaters rallied from four runs down in the eighth.
There would be no magic against Oregon State.
Linton, who drove in the winning run Tuesday night, flied out to end the game. As the Beavers held a subdued celebration on the infield, UC Irvine players leaned against their dugout rail staring.
Bryan Petersen cried as teammate Wes Etheridge put his arm around him to console him. After a team meeting in right field, players and coaches hugged.
"As exciting as it was to play on the grandest stage in college baseball, it's a pretty devastating feeling right now to know we have to take these uniforms off," second baseman Cody Cipriano said.
Freshman Christian Bergman (0-4), making just his third start of the season, held the Beavers scoreless through 2 2-3 innings and was on the verge of getting out of the third when Mike Lissman grounded to third baseman Tyler Vaughn.
Vaughn threw high, and first baseman Taylor Holiday missed a sweep tag on Lissman. Chris Hopkins came home from second on the play for the first of the Beavers' four unearned runs.
Canham followed with his 10th homer and John Wallace's triple made it 4-0.
"We showed how dominant our club can be," Barney said. "We are deep, we can pitch and defend, and when our bats are there, we're pretty tough to beat."
Beavers back in CWS finals
OMAHA, Neb. &