OSU rides 12 hits, starter Nickerson's steady seven innings

OMAHA, Neb. - Jonah Nickerson started it, Kevin Gunderson finished it, and Oregon State stayed alive in the College World Series.

Nickerson pitched seven innings of four-hit, two-run ball, and Gunderson sealed the deal with two innings of relief work as the fourth-ranked Beavers (45-15) beat Georgia 5-3 on Monday in an elimination game at Rosenblatt Stadium.

Oregon State advanced to a 6 p.m. PT matchup tonight with either Rice or Miami. The Beavers fell 11-1 to the Hurricanes in their CWS opener Saturday.

It was the first CWS victory in six tries for the Beavers, who lost twice last year in their first trip to Omaha since 1952.

'This is what our season has come down to, fighting to stay alive and the opportunity to play another day,' says Nickerson, a junior from Oregon City and a seventh-round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers. 'It's pretty exciting to win this game.'

Oregon State, which has struggled for offensive production at the CWS the last two years, had 12 hits and knocked Georgia southpaw Mickey Westphal from the game after four innings. The Beavers also got two outstanding defensive plays from center fielder Tyler Graham and turned three double plays in the infield, including one to close the game.

'Those double plays ripped our hearts out three times,' Georgia coach David Perno says. 'They turned them when they had the opportunity to turn them.'

Unlike Miami left-hander Scott Maine, a hard thrower who limited Oregon State to four hits in seven innings, Westphal is a junk baller who relies on changeups and curveballs. The Beavers battered him for seven hits and four runs.

'It helped that we got ahead early and were able to play more our style of game - run, bunt a little, do some things on the base paths,' OSU coach Pat Casey says.

Nickerson was outstanding against a Georgia team that came into the game batting a collective .312 with 77 home runs. He walked none and struck out three while throwing 114 pitches.

'We stuck with the same plan we've had all year - go after them with my fastball and allow the defense to do its thing behind me,' says Nickerson, who improved to 12-4.

Nickerson turned the game over to Gunderson with a 5-2 lead, but OSU's closer had a tough time putting away the Bulldogs. Georgia got a run in the eighth and had runners at first and second with one out after back-to-back singles in the ninth, with the winning run at the plate. But Gordon Beckham's double play gave Gunderson his 18th save this season.

'I hadn't thrown in eight days, and I was a little jumpy,' Gunderson says. 'My pitching was just average today, but average was good enough to get the job done. I'll be better the next time out.'

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