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June 24, 2007
OMAHA, Neb. - After winning its first national title last season, Oregon State entered the 2007 season with a target on its back.
As a result, the Beavers suffered through some tough times in conference play and entered the postseason as one of the last teams to make it in the field 64.
Somehow, the Beavers found a way to capture their second-consecutive national title with a 9-3 win over North Carolina Sunday night.
Oregon State's 2006 run raised eyebrows, but its 2007 run is astonishing.
"The season has been so tough because we had high expectations entering the year, but this team prospered through the ups and downs," Oregon State shortstop Darwin Barney said. "When you're a team that is supposed to win like us, you have a huge bulls-eye on your back. So for us to do this, it's special."
While the Beavers narrowly made it into the postseason, they had hoped to test their luck at the Charlottesville Regional. And after beating Rutgers in the first game, they dropped a tough decision to host Virginia.
The Beavers kept their postseason hopes alive with a win over Rutgers. But it was a 5-3 win over Virginia that made coach Pat Casey believe his team could win it all.
It started in the eighth inning against the Cavaliers.
"About the seventh or eighth inning against Virginia, we were getting beat and something happened in our dugout," Casey said. "We got energized from that point on and I felt that we were going to be tough to handle. It was a different feeling ? like magic. We felt it in the hotel and on the bus. That energy never went away."
The energy and confidence gained during Regionals and Super Regionals was translated into success at the College World Series. It culminated Sunday night with another dominating win over the Tar Heels.
The Beavers didn't enter the College World Series with the most impressive numbers of the eight teams involved, but did have one important quality - team chemistry.
To veteran shortstop Darwin Barney, this team was a family.
"All I can think about is what just happened between the white lines," Barney said. "The men I have been with since September, it's all about the team and every single guy contributing today. Even those not playing were at the top step of the dugout cheering us on. Nothing can take away the friendships I've developed on this team."
Though several Beavers had productive plate performances, Barney led the charge.
The veteran finished the night 2-for-5 with a home run, a double and two RBIs. Leadoff hitter Chris Hopkins and Mitch Canham each had two hits in the game, while John Wallace and Scott Santschi added three hits a piece.
"Every season is long at points, but this season feels complete," Santschi said. "It's over for this team and this group of guys will not play together again. But we're a family."
As a family, the Beavers are once again the nation's best. They also join elite company as one of the few programs to repeat as national champions.
Oregon State joins Texas, Southern California, Stanford and LSU as programs that have repeated. In his own words, Pat Casey views his team above those comparisons.
"I don't have to convince these guys that they're Texas or Southern California, they're Oregon State," Casey said. "We have a lot of confidence and pride and created another championship around these kids. We don't need to be anybody else. Tonight in Omaha, Nebraska, we're the best team in the country."
Oregon State has officially become a college baseball dynasty.
"I don't know what qualifies as a dynasty, but we've got it going on and I think we're going to keep things going," Barney said. "A dynasty can be said in so many different ways, but this is officially our dynasty."
Not only do the Beavers finish the season as national champions. They also won 10-straight NCAA Tournament games and become just the first team to win four-straight College World Series contest by six runs or more.
The dream continues for Oregon State.