OMAHA, Neb -- Never underestimate pitching and defense. Oregon State used that formula to win a College World Series title and is looking to repeat the same way. The Beavers held Cal State Fullerton to six hits an held off a Titan rally for a 3-2 victory.
Their normally strong defense let them down with two outs in the ninth as shortstop Darwin Barney and leftfielder John Wallace let a fly ball fall between them. After a single put runners on the corners, closer Eddie Kunz slammed the door with a ground out to Barney.
"I was feeling pretty good about our defense until two outs in the ninth," Oregon State coach Pat Casey said. "We ask our players to make a commitment to defense. I think to be a good defense you have to be good up the middle."
The Beavers are that with defensive whiz Mitch Canham at catcher, infielders Joey Wong and Barney, and centerfielder Chris Hopkins. They continued to make plays allowing freshman southpaw starter Jorge Reyes to keep Fullerton's bats in check.
Reyes (6-3) allowed just three hits in his six inning start.
"People asked me all week about sending a freshman out there to start," Casey said of Reyes. "I tell the players that after we send them home after Christmas when they come back they are not freshmen anymore."
"Coach Casey can say we whatever he wants," Reyes said, "but this was something I had never experienced before. Fortunately we have great leaders on this team that kept me focused. And I feel like I got lucky because our defense played great behind me."
The Beavers were led offensively by Scott Santschi who had a pair of hits including a home run. Mike Lissman also homered as two of the OSU hits left the park.
Fullerton got a home run by Nick Mahin - who also cut the lead to one in the eighth with a sac fly.
The Titans lack of offense wasted a strong pitching effort from starter Wes Roemer (11-7). Roemer worked eight innings and allowed seven hits. He allowed three runs - two of them earned - and fanned seven.
"This is a tough park to pitch in," Roemer said. "If you leave the ball up it can go a long way. I think I pitched a decent game but I made two mistakes that was the difference in the game."
While the homeruns were big, the unearned run might weigh heavier on the Fullerton minds.
In the second inning Wallace singled and got to second when Roemer threw wildly to first on a pickoff attempt. With two outs in the inning, Santschi drove in a run with a single.
Oregon State moves on to face Arizona State Monday night in the winners' bracket. Cal State Fullerton takes on UC Irvine Monday in an elimination game.