OSU proves low seeds can win

OMAHA, Neb. — It's official. Oregon State has proved you don't have to be highly ranked to become the NCAA baseball champion.

The Beavers became the first team seeded as low as No. 3 in the regionals — that is, outside the top 32 — to win the College World Series.

They sealed their second straight title Sunday with a 9-3 victory over North Carolina, sweeping the best-of-three series. They won 11-4 Saturday.

UNC, by the way, was the national No. 3 seed and was second in the Collegiate Baseball national rankings. OSU, which wasn't in the top 25 on any national poll but was elevated to No. 5 on June 11 by Collegiate Baseball.

Today, the Beavers are No. 1 — for the second straight year — and this time they did it even more impressively by going 5-0 and outscoring their opponents by 26 runs in Omaha.

"Nobody stopped us," said closer Eddie Kunz, who pitched only one-third of an inning, needing nine pitches to close out the Game 1 victory over Cal State Fullerton.

"That doesn't matter to me," he added when asked if he was disappointed by not being used in the final four games. "I'm here for the team and it's one of the greatest feelings I've ever had in my life."

"We got on a roll, had a hot streak when we needed it."

Coach Pat Casey said it started in the regional in Virginia when the Beavers rallied to beat the host Cavaliers twice.

"Something happened in our dugout and we got inspired," he said of the regional. "I don't why. This was a different feeling. It was magic. It never went away."

"But all the credit goes to the players and we're proud of them. I really can't explain it. There was never any fear."

"I'm a blessed man. I just felt we were going to win."

Sue Casey, the coach's wife, agreed.

"This is crazy," she said. "This year is unbelievable because nobody thought we could do this."


THE MVP: Jorge Reyes, who allowed only three runs in 121/3 innings while going 2-0, was voted the most outstanding player of the 2007 CWS.

He was almost speechless after accepting the trophy for his individual award, voted by media covering the event.

"I really wasn't expecting it, but I'm glad I won it," he said. "My stomach's swirling 1,000 miles an hour."

He then talked about his three goals in baseball: Winning a CWS championship, getting drafted and winning a World Series as a professional.

"One down, two to go," he said.


THE HIT LEADER: OSU junior Darwin Barney figures to be gone soon, probably signing with the Chicago Cubs, who picked him in the fourth round.

He's made quite an impact on the OSU program, helping get to the CWS in all three of his seasons.

He capped quite a career Sunday, starting it with a two-run homer in the second inning. That blast made him the team's career hit leader with 237 and he made it 238 with a double. The former record was set by Jacoby Ellsbury with 236 from 2003-05.

Barney also received votes for the outstanding player award, but that wasn't on his mind. He'll soon announce whether he's coming back to OSU, but acknowledges that it might be time to go.

"But I promised the guys if we won this again, I'd think about it," he said. "We're pretty close and I know they'll respect my decision."


THEY CAME FROM MEDFORD: Larry and Karen Nicholson of Medford regretted not coming to Omaha to watch Oregon State win its first College World Series.

They weren't about to miss this one.

"We didn't know we were going to come until Thursday," said Larry Nicholson, an insurance agent and the chairman of the Medford School Board. "We got caught up in the enthusiasm."

"We were sorry we didn't come last year."

The Nicholsons were here only for the championship finals, but that was enough to ensure a memorable moment.

"It's surreal," Larry said. "Oregon State has a great program. Pat Casey has put together a great team."


THEY'RE TIRED: Playing 67 games can be tiring. Catcher Mitch Canham, who made the all-CWS team, said he was emotionally and physically drained.

"We're happy and it's a great feeling. You can't get enough of this," he said. "But I'm taking a vacation."

He was joined on the all-CWS team by teammates Joey Wong (second base), Barney (shortstop), Scott Santschi (outfield), Mike Lissman (DH) and Reyes (pitcher); North Carolina's Dustin Ackley (first base), Tim Fedroff (outfield) and Andrew Carignan (pitcher); UC Irvine's Bryan Peterson (outfield), and Rice's Diego Seastrunk (third base).


GOOD SELECTION: After finishing 10-14 and tying for sixth in the Pac-10, some may have thought the Beavers didn't deserve to be selected for the postseason.

"It's a tribute to the committee for selecting them," said Dennis Poppe, director of baseball and football for the NCAA. "Normally, teams that finish sixth don't get in."

Poppe was impressed that the tournament attracted 300,702 fans for 15 games. That included 25,012 for the final game Sunday.

"I'm always surprised when we have that support," he said, adding that 42 percent of season ticket holders are from outside Omaha. "That just shows you how much the event has grown across the country."

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