Oregon St. will face Tar Heels for title

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Beavers advanced to the finals with a 2-0 win over Rice.

OMAHA, Neb. -- Jonah Nickerson pitched 7 2-3 shutout innings in his second outstanding start in four days, leading Oregon State to a 2-0 victory over Rice on Thursday night and into the championship round of the College World Series.

Oregon State (48-15), which advanced from the losers' bracket after falling to Miami on the tournament's first day, will take on North Carolina (53-13) in a best-of-three series starting Saturday night.

The matchup assures there will be a first-time national champion: Neither school has won the College World Series.

Nickerson (13-4) took the ball for the Beavers after going seven strong innings in a 5-3 win over Georgia on Monday. The junior right-hander allowed two hits, struck out nine and walked three in this one, and was replaced by star closer Kevin Gunderson after fanning pinch-hitter Adam Zornes.

Nickerson walked off the mound and received a standing ovation from the appreciative Rosenblatt Stadium crowd.

Gunderson struck out Tyler Henley, and pitched a perfect ninth for his 19th save, tying him with Kansas' Don Czyz for the national lead. After getting Josh Rodriguez to foul out to left to end it, Gunderson pumped his fist twice and hopped on the mound as the Beavers charged out of their dugout to celebrate.

Rice (57-13) was shut out by Oregon State for the second straight game after falling 5-0 on Wednesday. After scoring a run in the fourth inning of its 3-2 in over Miami on Monday, Rice failed to score in a CWS-record 23 consecutive innings.

The last team to throw consecutive shutouts at Omaha was Pepperdine in 1992.

Oregon State scored all the runs it needed in the second when Bill Rowe hit a leadoff double down the first-base line, and moved to third one out later on a wild pitch by Eddie Degerman (13-2). Mitch Canham's sacrifice fly to left made it 1-0.

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