Southridge grad Darwin Barney and OSU revel in their second Series trip
OMAHA, Neb. - For a while anyway, Omaha's Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium probably felt like Death Valley for Darwin Barney and the rest of the Oregon State University baseball team.
Barney, a Southridge High School graduate who's now the starting shortstop for the Pac-10 champion Beavers (46-15), and his OSU teammates suffered through an 0-2 appearance in the 2005 College Baseball World Series, then opened the 2006 Series with an 11-1 loss to the University of Miami.
But now, just five days after that opening-round loss to the Hurricanes, things are feeling much different - and much better - for Barney and the Beavers.
After struggling through that painful defeat against Miami on Saturday, Barney and OSU came back with their school's first-ever CWS win on Monday, beating 12th-ranked Georgia 5-3 in the loser's bracket of the eight-team, double-elimination tournament.
'That really took a chip off our shoulders and gave us confidence' going into the next game, Barney said. 'It was a huge (weight) off our shoulders.'
Then, to make things even better, the Beavers got even with Miami in a second straight loser-out game, beating the Hurricanes 8-1 on Tuesday
night behind the lights-out pitching performance of Lake Oswego graduate Mike Stutes.
'I'm very proud of our ball club,' OSU coach Pat Casey said on the NCAA website. 'We said we were better than we played on opening day and we had to prove it.'
'After we got that first win, we were very confident,' Barney said.
Through it all, the good and the not so good, Barney has remained confident in himself and in his OSU team.
'After the first win we got, I knew we'd have a lot of confidence,' he said. 'We knew that first game (against Miami) was a fluke. We knew we were better than that.'
Barney, in his second starting season at shortstop for the two-time Pac-10 champion Beavers, has made a career out of being better than everyone else.
In addition to his honors at OSU - where he won Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors in 2005 and first-team All Pac-10 in both 2005 and 2006 - Barney proved himself pretty special as a high schooler at Southridge, too.
There, he helped the Skyhawks win their first Metro League title and keyed Southridge's run to the 2002 Class 4A state title (posting an 8-6 decision in eight innings over Newberg and current OSU teammate Dallas Buck).
He also was named to the Class 4A All-State first team following his senior season.
Game One - Miami canes Beavs 11-1
Oregon State's second straight trip to the College Baseball World Series started with a resounding thud, the Beavers hammered 11-1 by Miami and the four-hit pitching performance of Scott Maine.
'Miami is a good club,' OSU shortstop Darwin Barney said. 'They got us on our heels and we didn't do the things we've done all year.'
The Beavers also got a sub-par pitching performance from staff ace Dallas Buck, who gave up seven hits and seven earned runs before being lifted after five innings with his team facing a 7-0 deficit.
'We didn't get the performance we needed on the mound,' Barney added.
Game two - OSU bounces back 5-3
It probably felt like it was a long time coming, after two years and three straight CWS losses, but OSU broke through for its first-ever Series win on Monday by beating Georgia 5-3 behind Jonah Nickerson's four-hitter.
'We hit the ball better and played pretty good defense all around,' said OSU shortstop Darwin Barney.
Barney's key contribution at the plate on Monday came in the fourth inning when his two-out single through the left side drove home Chris Kunda to extend OSU's lead to 4-1.
Kevin Gunderson pitched the final two innings.
Game three - OSU gets its revenge 8-1
Revenge is sweet and never more so than for Oregon State in its 8-1 win over Miami on Tuesday.
OSU eliminated the Hurricanes from the Series and extended their run with a second straight victory, this time shutting down Miami behind starter Mike Stutes (6-1/3 innings, four hits, one earned run).
OSU shortstop Darwin Barney again played a key role, collecting one hit in four trips from his leadoff spot in the lineup and scoring twice for the Beavers.
As a team, OSU racked up 13 hits (three from Mitch Canham and two each by John Wallace, Bill Rowe and Tyler Graham) while Miami - after getting 11 Saturday - managed just five.