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COLLEGE WORLD SERIES

Beavers Reach Finals

June 23, 2006|From the Associated Press

OMAHA — Jonah Nickerson pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings in his second impressive 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 play North Carolina (53-13) in a best-of-three series starting Saturday.

The matchup ensures 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 gave up two hits, struck out nine and walked three, and was replaced by Kevin Gunderson after striking out pinch-hitter Adam Zornes.

Gunderson struck out Tyler Henley and pitched a perfect ninth for his 19th save.

Rice (57-13), the 2003 national champion, was shut out by Oregon State for the second consecutive game after falling, 5-0, on Wednesday. After scoring a run in the fourth inning of its 3-2 win over Miami on Monday, Rice failed to score in a CWS-record 23 consecutive innings.

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 made it 1-0.

The Beavers knocked Degerman, a right-hander with an unorthodox delivery, out of the game in the fifth with another run but could have gotten more.

Chris Kunda and Shea McFeely singled to start the inning, and Darwin Barney drew a one-out walk to load the bases. John Wallace followed with a hard one-hopper that hit off Degerman's leg and deflected to third baseman Rodriguez, whose throw barely beat Wallace to first as Kunda scored.

Bryce Cox replaced Degerman and struck out Cole Gillespie to end the inning.

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