Oregon State entered this year’s NCAA baseball tournament as the No. 3 overall national seed. The Beavers held the season’s No. 1 ranking for a brief time after Florida fell apart for a week, and they seeded into a bracket at the College World Series that includes Washington, Mississippi State, and North Carolina.
Oregon State is the favorite among many to win this side of the CWS bracket, if not take the entire tournament outright. This very sports blog has argued so.
Which is admittedly a bit embarrassing, since North Carolina just ripped off a 8-6 upset win over a formidable Beaver club that last year was favored to win this tournament, but fell flat on their faces in this very round of the College World Series.
Things went sideways for Oregon State early. Starter Luke Heimlich made it through two and a third innings of work before getting the ax in the third, an inning in which the Heels knocked in five runs and batted around. Heimlich hit no less than three UNC batters, and it was after the third that skipper Pat Casey yanked him.
Credit where it’s due, though: North Carolina is playing ball right now, at just the right time on the college baseball calendar. The Heels added two more in the seventh, then survived a late Beavers rally to seal the opening game win.
Carolina DH Ben Casparius led all Tar Heel hitters with three RBI in a two-for-five day. Closer Cooper Criswell threw two and a third shutdown innings to seal the deal, giving up just one hit and one walk to blank Oregon State and send the Heels through to the winners’ bracket.
With the loss, Oregon State will take on the loser of Saturday night’s showdown between Mississippi State and Washington. If the Beavs lose again, they’re done for the year, just like last year.