OMAHA–When Oregon State beat Michigan in the Corvallis super-regional and earned its third straight trip to the College World Series, there was no dogpile, just a calm, quiet celebration like you’d see after any other win. Catcher Mitch Canham said afterward that the Beavers were only going to dogpile once this year, and they weren’t about to waste it so early in the postseason.
After Oregon State dissected a depleted UC Irvine team 7-1 on Wednesday night to earn a second straight trip to the CWS championship series, there was another calm, quiet celebration just like you’d see after any other win.
“The whole team believes there’s only room for that one dogpile,” Canham said. “That’s all we’ve been working on all year. We didn’t work toward the Pac-10 championship, that was no concern to us. It’s all about getting another ring. That started the day after we won last year–we woke up and started thinking, ‘Man, I can’t wait until next year when we do it again.’
“It’s hard for me to run and jump around right now, because we’ve got work to do. I’m not satisfied until the final dogpile.”
Canham certainly did his part to ensure the Beavers get the opportunity to defend their national title this weekend. The junior catcher snapped out of a 6-for-36 slump by going 3-for-5 with three RBIs, two of them coming on a home run to right-center field in OSU’s four-run third inning. It was his first long ball since May 18.
“As I rounded second, I said, ‘It’s about time,’” Canham said.
That was more than enough support for righthander Daniel Turpen (10-1), who held the Anteaters to one run on five hits over eight innings of work. Pitching in a huge game in front of the second-largest crowd in CWS history was no big deal for Turpen, who held Rice scoreless on five hits over 6 2/3 innings in front of the largest-ever CWS crowd almost a year ago to the day. Lefthander Joe Paterson finished off out the win against Rice, and he came out of the bullpen again Wednesday to secure a 1-2-3 ninth.
“It was kind of deja vu for us running Turp out there, we hadn’t done that for a while, and then Paterson coming in behind him,” Oregon State coach Pat Casey said.
The Beavers had shifted Turpen to the bullpen during the April 20-22 series against Nevada-Las Vegas and moved Jorge Reyes to the rotation, and his only start since came during the Charlottesville regional, when he pitched three innings to pick up a save in the morning game against Rutgers, then got the start and pitched another 4 1/3 in the evening against Virginia. He’s been a weapon in the bullpen, but he’s developing quite a reputation as a big-game starter–even after going fishing this morning.
“It’s exciting going out there in front of 29, 921 people,” Turpen said, pausing to look at the official attendance figure. “It’s something that I like to thrive on, seeing all those people out there watching you, expecting you, a national champion, to play like a national champion.”
Turpen worked ahead in the count much of the night and showed a lively fastball, a good slider that he got the ‘Eaters to chase repeatedly out of the zone, and a quality changeup. The Anteaters admitted to being a bit fatigued after playing back-to-back extra-inning epics the previous two days, and they could never sustain a rally against Turpen.
“We just never got him out of cruise control, I think that’s kind of what happened,” UC Irvine second baseman Cody Cipriano said.
UCI coach Dave Serrano was right when he said that a magical run has come to an end, and people will remember this run for years to come. But today belonged to the Beavers.
“We just got beat by a better team today, a team I tip my hat to, and now they will play for the national championship,” Serrano said.
It’s quite a switch from a year ago, when Oregon State was the team scrambling through the loser’s bracket, trying to prolong its magical Omaha run for one more day. This time around, the Beavers will have two days off to rest their already fresh pitchers, while North Carolina and Rice will duke it out tomorrow for the right to meet OSU in Saturday’s championship series opener.
“To get to this point in your season, a lot of things have to go your way, and that’s kind of what we rolled on last year. But I think this year we really showed how dominant our club can be,” OSU shortstop Darwin Barney said. “We’re deep, we can pitch, we defend very well, and we’re very tough to beat.”
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