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June 19, 2007

Oregon State blasts past Sun Devils

  • Talk about the College World Series in the Clubhouse

    OMAHA, Neb. - Maybe Oregon State is a team of destiny after all.

    Looking back at the first few days of the College World Series, it's amazing to think that Oregon State was once a team on the outside looking in when it came to the postseason.

    Now they're 2-0 and in great shape to reach another championship series.

    Backed by an acceptable pitching performance from starting pitcher Mike Stutes and an offensive onslaught, the Beavers defeated Arizona State 12-6 Monday night.

    It was a stark contrast from the last time they faced the Sun Devils.

    "We got a quality start from Stutes and we swung the bats well early," Oregon State coach Pat Casey said. "We had little success the last time we faced the Sun Devils, so the fast start really got us going offensively."

    Just to show how far the Beavers have come in the past few weeks, one just has to look at what they did against the Sun Devils in their last meeting in Corvallis, Ore.

    Not only did the Sun Devils sweep the Beavers, they dominated them in games two and three with Brian Flores and Josh Satow leading the charge.

    Instead of Arizona State domination, the Beavers returned the favor Monday night.

    "We're not the same team we were when we faced them last time," Oregon State shortstop Darwin Barney said. "Our offensive approach was the same, we just made things happen at the plate tonight."

    While Barney made several impressive plays in the field, he also finished the game with a hit and two runs scored.

    Oregon State outfielder Mike Lissman led the way at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a home run, two runs scored and four RBIs. The home run was his 10th of the year.

    Beaver first baseman Jordan Lennerton added a home run and finished the game two hits and two runs scored, while leadoff hitter Chris Hopkins finished the night with three hits.

    For a team that was often criticized for their lack of offensive production, the Beavers took their first step in proving the doubters wrong.

    "After the Sunday game against ASU a few weeks ago, I questioned our team's attitude and work ethic. We just weren't showing up," Casey said. "But this is a completely different team and our guys don't fear anyone."

    With a 2-0 record in the College World Series, the Beavers will now get a day off before facing the winner of Arizona State and UC Irvine Wednesday afternoon.

    Even in its national title run last season, Oregon State wasn't in this good of shape.

    Still, the Beavers expect to keep their focus during the next two days.

    "We're happy to win the first two games, but we're going to keep our foot on the throttle," Casey said. "We're not going to focus on things we can't control."

    Sun Devils play uncharacteristic baseball

    Dating back to the California series the last week of April, Arizona State had lost just one game - a Sunday contest against rival Arizona - between then and Monday night.

    That streak was impressive, but on the largest stage in college baseball it came crashing down against Oregon State.

    Though the loss puts the Sun Devils in a precarious position, Arizona State coach Pat Murphy believes it's something that could help them prevail in Omaha.

    "I've said all year that we needed to be punched in the mouth. That happened tonight," Murphy said. "We just played bad baseball for six innings."

    Amid defeat, Murphy also gave some advice to the NCAA - extend the time between games to more than 50 minutes.

    Insisting that he wasn't making excuses for his team, Murphy pointed to the short amount of time between the five-hour plus UC Irvine-Cal State Fullerton game and their game as a mental challenge for his players.

    "After the long game before ours, you shouldn't rush into a game like we did tonight," Murphy said. "It wasn't enough time to get ready and we had some guys still getting taped up during the national anthem. We just weren't prepared."

    Oregon State shortstop Darwin Barney had a different take than Murphy.

    "During the other game, we played some ping pong and lounged around in the stands," Barney said. "We were just having a good time. If Arizona State couldn't do that, then I guess it was good for us."

    Despite the short time between games, the Sun Devils still received a pair of poor pitching performances from Brian Flores and Josh Satow.

    Flores was lifted after allowing two runs on four hits in an inning of work, while Satow allowed six runs on eights hits in three innings.

    Satow credits his dismal start to not sticking to the game plan.

    "They did a good job of staying on the baseball," he said. "I didn't stick to my game plan and we didn't respond well from the slow start."

    Arizona State second baseman Eric Sogard, who finished the night 2-for-5 with two RBIs, remains optimistic about their chances to advance to the title series.

    "Winning from here on out will be a tough challenge, but this is what we've worked all year for," he said. "We didn't have the right mental approach tonight. We'll be back."


    Kendall Rogers is the college baseball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at kendall@rivals.com.




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