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Barney, Beavers win it all

The Southridge High grad helps OSU baseball win the World Series
by: CHRIS MACHIAN, MAKING THE TAG — Southridge High graduate Darwin Barney, here tagging out Rice’s Derek Myers on June 22 in the semifinals of the College Baseball World Series, helped lift Oregon State to its first-ever national title.

OMAHA, Neb. - It's been quite an adventure for Southridge High graduate Darwin Barney the past couple weeks.

A sophomore shortstop on the Oregon State baseball team, Barney saw his team win the Pac-10 title, then take its Regional and Super Regional playoffs to earn a second consecutive berth to the College Baseball World Series.

But all that pales in comparison with the developmennts of the last several days, developments capped by the Beavers winning their first-ever NCAA baseball title on Monday at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium.

'It's unreal. It's crazy,' Barney said Wednesday morning. 'I don't think it's really sunk in on us yet. It's a national title. It's a big deal.'

The Beavers' title didn't come easily either.

They opened the Series with an 11-1 thrashing by Miami. They had to play more games than any previous World Series champion, becoming the first CWS champion to finish with two losses (and six wins). And OSU also had to overcome the persistent bias everyone else had that a team from the Northwest - and certainly not a team from Oregon - could win a national title.

'Even though we got more respect this year, since it was our second year in a row down there, it seemed like there was always a reason for people to pick the other team to win,' Barney said. 'We didn't mind being the underdog, though.'

Barney, like his team, had to battle through adversity in the Series' final game, the title-clinching 3-2 win over North Carolina in the third game of the best two-of-three championship series.

The Beavers broke on top 2-0 in Monday's Series finale, but saw the Tar Heels come back to tie the game at 2-2, fueled in great part by Barney's throwing error on the Tar Heel leadoff hitter in the fifth inning.

'It was hard on me because I knew it made Jonah (Nickerson, the Beavers' starting pitcher) throw more pitches,' Barney said. 'We might have won 2-0 if I hadn't made that throw.'

Even as a sophomore, though, Barney's been around long enough to know you can't dwell on mistakes.

'In a game like that, there's no time to sulk or hold it against yourself,' he said. 'You've just got to put it past you and make sure you make the next play.'

The Beavers did indeed make the next play, and the next one and the next one, and then they made the Series their own in the bottom of the eighth.

There, Bill Rowe drew a two-out walk, took second on a bloop single by Tyler Graham, then scored the game-winner - and Series clincher - when Tar Heels' second baseman Bryan Steed threw the ball away on a routine grounder by Beaver pinch hitter Ryan Gipson.

'It was unreal. It felt like the baseball gods came down for us,' Barney said. 'Everyone almost felt that something like that was going to happen.'

Three outs later, when OSU relief ace Ryan Gunderson got Flack on a fly to Graham in center with the tying run at third, the Beavers had their title in hand and began a whirlwind spate of celebrations, press conferences and jubilation that haven't ended yet.

'Things hadn't really been going our way for the rest of the World Series,' Barney said. 'We all just kind of felt like something was going to happen for us.'

'Something' indeed happened for Barney and the Beavers, something that OSU baseball fans, Barney and his teammates will remember for a long, long time.

'It was like a weight was lifted off our shoulders. Everything we had worked for was finally there,' Barney said. 'It's pretty special. It's something you dream about a long time.'

Barney is far from done with baseball for the year, however. After spending Tuesday celebrating his new championship at Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square and at Corvallis' Reser Stadium, Barney got Wednesday off before leaving today (Thursday) to join Team USA on its summer baseball tour.

In addition to games against a variety of American teams, Team USA will play summer series against Taiwan, Germany, Korea, Japan and close competition with a 10-day trip to Havana, Cuba.

Game 4 - OSU shuts down No. 1 Rice by 5-0

Coming off an emotional win against Miami - one of two teams to beat the Beavers in the Series -Oregon State just kept rolling against top-ranked Rice on June 21, posting a 5-0 victory.

Darwin Barney walked once and went hitless in three at-bats, and contributed defensively as part of his team's errorless, shutout performance.

Daniel Turpen of McMinnville made his second start of the season a keeper, going 6-2/3 innings and allowing just five hits.

Game 5 - Beavs knock out Owls again 2-0

Darwin Barney and the Beavers kept their foot on the accelerator in the second game of their semifinal on June 22, getting a lights-out pitching performance from Jonah Nickerson in the 2-0 win.

Nickerson went 7-2/3 innings and limited the Owls to just two hits before giving way to closer Kevin Gunderson.

Barney and the OSU defense were flawless again, playing error-free ball for the second straight game to earn a berth in the best two-of-three finals.

Game 6 - Tar Heels derail Beavs in opener

After four straight World Series victories, Oregon State found itself on the short end of the stick in its championship opener, falling 4-3 to North Carolina on Saturday.

Darwin Barney got his bat going for the first time in three games, collecting two hits in four trips and knocking in one run with a sacrifice fly in the top of the third inning.

But North Carolina pushed across a run in the bottom of the eighth when Chad Flack tripled and later scored the game-winner on a passed ball.

Game 7 - Heels lead 5-0, but can't hang on

As much as anything, OSU's World Series success was characterized by its ability to come from behind, and no game demonstrated that better than the Beavers' 11-7 win over North Carolina on Sunday.

Darwin Barney was right in the thick of things, too, going 3-for-4 at the plate, driving in one and scoring twice as OSU rallied from a 5-0 deficit with seven runs in the fourth and four more in the sixth.

The Beavers also played their fourth straight errorless game.

Game 8 - Beavs seal Series with 3-2 thriller

Monday's title game was as exciting as any game you'd want to see, and Darwin Barney and the Beavers came through in the clutch to win their first NCAA baseball title 3-2.

Barney committed a crucial throwing error in the fifth inning that led to two unearned Tar Heel runs and a 2-2 tie, but Beaver Bill Rowe walked and eventually scored the game-winner in the bottom of the eighth inning on a throwing error by North Carolina second baseman Bryan Steed.