THE GAME AT A GLANCE
Turning Point: Rice loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the fourth inning, looking to answer the three runs Oregon State had posted in the bottom of the third. But Turpen struck out Danny Lehmann to end the threat, and Rice only got one more runner to third base all game.
The Hero: A night after sophomore Mike Stutes threw one of the best games of his career to stave off elimination, classmate Daniel Turpen one-upped Stutes by firing 6 2/3 scoreless innings--his longest outing of the season.
You May Not Have Noticed: Rice leadoff man Tyler Henley was ejected from the game lowering his shoulder and trying to run over Oregon State pitcher Joe Paterson on a slow roller up the first base line to end the top of the seventh inning. "I thought it was just a reaction," Rice coach Wayne Graham said. "Tyler is not a dirty player. He's an ex-football player, and he might have had a flashback there. But he's a solid citizen, and I know it was just a reaction."
OMAHA--Until Wednesday night, the biggest moment of Daniel Turpen's Oregon State career came when he recorded the final out of the super-regional clinching game against Stanford. His longest outing, and the only start of his career, was a 6 1/3-innings effort April 30 against New Mexico.
Go ahead and move those highlights down a space in Turpen's bio. He held Rice to five hits over 6 2/3 scoreless innings to lead Oregon State to a 5-0 win--the team's third straight in an elimination game. It sets up another game with Rice on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET for the right to face North Carolina in the best-of-3 championship series beginning Saturday.
"I just tried to go out there just like it was any other game," Turpen said. "Obviously, it's the College World Series, so it's different, but I just tried to approach it just like another relief appearance."
Turpen's start brought relief to an
Oregon State pitching staff that was supposed to struggle to patch
things together Wednesday. The Beavers (47-15) lost their first CWS
game and were playing for the third straight day. But they've now won each of those elimination games thanks to starting pitching that has allowed three runs in 20 combined innings.
There was no reason to think that trend would continue against Rice (57-12). Having used all three of its regular weekend starters, OSU was forced to go with Turpen, the only player on its CWS roster other than those three rotation stalwarts who had made a start this season. (Anton Maxwell and Brian Budrow combined for 10 starts, but neither made the trip to Omaha.) The sophomore righthander had worked just 23 2/3 innings entering the game, so big-game experience wasn't atop his resume.
"Our concern was, here's a guy who hasn't started for a while and we're hoping he can give us five innings," Oregan State head coach Pat Casey said. "I was hoping he wouldn't go out too amped up and we'd have to go to the bullpen early. I think that's warranted.
"I've told Turp before, it's not where you start the season, it's where you are when it ends. It happens when you least expect it, and it happened tonight. He pitched very well and I can't tell you how proud I am of him."
Rice mounted just one serious scoring
threat against Turpen (3-0) in getting shut out for the second time all season. It loaded the bases with two outs in the
third inning, but catcher Danny Lehmann became one of Turpen's three
strikeout victims to end the scoring chance. Rice only advanced one more runner to third base the rest of the game.
"He was a good pitcher and he threw strikes," said Rice third baseman Josh Rodriguez, who collected two of his team's five hits. "We just couldn't get anything going offensively. We weren't totally calm when we stepped into the box and we swung at pitches we shouldn't. He threw strikes and got outs when he needed them."
Sophomore lefty Joe Patterson, the other pitcher Casey considered starting in the game, relieved Turpen and allowed only a walk over the final two innings. He and Turpen were teammates at McMinnville (Ore.) High, the rival school of Casey's alma mater Newberg, the school also attended by Dallas Buck.
"Being from Newburg, I've never cheered that much for two guys from McMinnville," Casey said. "The Grizzlies got the Tigers tonight."
Instead of struggling on the mound, Oregon State looked more like the team that had played just two games in the previous four days. That's the position Rice was in, but it looked like the team with the taxed pitching staff. Starter Craig Crow labored through two-plus innings, allowing four consecutive baserunners (three of whom scored) before getting pulled without recording an out in the third inning. He walked three men and hit two others.
First baseman Bill Rowe drove in two runs for Oregon State for the second straight night. His RBI single off Crow (8-2) started OSU's scoring, and he ended it with a sacrifice fly after a Cole Gillespie triple in the seventh. Third baseman Shea McFeely homered for the second straight game as part of a three-hit night for the Beavers.
"We played well and we won. That's all that really matters at this point in the season," said center fielder Tyler Graham, who made two more highlight-reel quality catches. "Now, we're one game away from playing for a national championship."
Righthander Eddie Degerman will pitch for Rice in the deciding game, and Casey said he wasn't sure who would get the call for his club until Thursday morning. He mentioned Dallas Buck, Jonah Nickerson and closer Kevin Gunderson as candidates.