THE GAME AT A GLANCE
Turning Point: Georgia had finally strung together a couple of hits against Oregon State starter Jonah Nickerson in the fifth inning, when Matt Olson doubled and Ryan Peisel came up with an infield hit. But Nickerson got the next batter, Gordon Beckham, to ground into a 4-6-3 double play, taking the steam out of the Bulldogs rally.
The Hero: Nickerson showed why he is an All-American, holding Georgia to a pair of runs on four hits over seven innings of work, striking out three.
You May Not Have Noticed: The Bulldogs only got the leadoff man on base twice all game, in the fifth and sixth innings. Both times, Nickerson induced double plays to curtail their momentum.
OMAHA--Oregon State finally played that style of game it wanted, and in doing so, finally won a game at the College World Series.
The Beavers got runners on base early, opening up an aggressive offensive attack of bunts, steals and well-timed hits that it hadn't had the opportunity to display often in its five previous CWS games--all losses. A 5-3 win Monday against Georgia kept Oregon State alive in this year's tournament and kept the Beavers from becoming the first team to ever lose its first six CWS games.
"Coming into the second game, you could say we were looser," Oregon State center fielder Tyler Graham. "Today was one of those days where we had nothing to lose. We went two and 'cue last year, and we were hungry for a win."
The win helped Oregon State erase the memories of an 11-1 drubbing by Miami in its first CWS game.
"They put it to us," closer Kevin Gunderson said of the loss to Miami. "They came out more aggressive than we did and put us in a hole. We're not the kind of team that's going to hit three-run homers, that's not the kind of offense that we play."
Oregon State became the aggressor against Georgia (47-23). Though it faced a lefthander for the second straight game, coach Pat Casey shuffled his lineup, moving lefthanded batter John Wallace to the No. 2 spot, sliding Shea McFeely up to the cleanup spot and shifting DH Mike Lissman down to sixth. The moves paid off as every Oregon State batter finished the day with at least one hit, five different players scored runs and four drove in runs.
"It was more our style of play today," Casey said. "It helped us that we were able to get on the board early and do the types of things we like to do. We were able to do some things by starting runners and moving guys over."
Graham started things for the Beavers (45-15) by singling and scoring the game's first run in the second inning. His two-out bunt single down the third-base line an inning later scored Cole Gillespie from third to give starter Jonah Nickerson a 2-0 working margin and the entire team a dose of confidence.
Nickerson (12-4) provided his own boost. He mixed his four-pitch repertoire for seven innings, allowing two runs on four hits. He didn't walk a batter and struck out three while using a quick, sure-handed defense to record outs.
Graham made two highlight-reel plays in
center field, a running leaping grab at the wall and a diving
catch--both of which stole hits from Joey Side and delighted the
crowd of 17,135 at Rosenblatt Stadium.
When Georgia had runners in scoring position, Oregon State erased them from the bases with three key double plays. Freshman shortstop Gordon Beckham, dropped from third to eighth in the Georgia order because of a late-season slump, grounded into rally-killing double plays in the fifth and ninth innings. The fifth-inning twin killing came with no outs and runners on first and second base, limiting the Bulldogs to only one run in an inning where their first two hitters reached base.
"The double plays ripped out hearts out three times," Georgia coach Dave Perno said. "If we didn't hit into those double plays, who knows what happens."
The loss ended the season for Georgia, a team that had won its previous five elimination games in the NCAA tournament. It marked the first time since 1998 that the Southeastern Conference representative failed to win a game in Omaha. And, coupled with Georgia Tech's elimination Sunday, marked the first time since 1998 that both 0-2 teams came from the same state. Florida and Florida State left first that year.
Oregon State avoided a similar fate for the first time in three tries. Now it must prepare for another elimination game Tuesday against the loser of tonight's Miami-Rice winner's bracket game.
"We swung the bats and we battled," said Gunderson, who worked the final two innings for his 18th save. "Hopefully, we'll keep playing Oregon State baseball and doing the things we do. It's going to be a tough road, but we're ready for it."