Reliving OSU Baseball’s 2006 championship season

In this file photo from 2017, a banner hangs outside of Goss Stadium celebrating the College World Series wins of the 2006 and 2007 Oregon State Beavers. Oregon State’s 2006 championship win was their first in school history. 

Jackson Smith, Sports Contributor

On June 26, 2006, the Oregon State Beavers baseball team defeated the North Carolina Tar Heels in the College World Series, their first of three national championships in the past 15 years. 

Coming off of a 45-win season in 2005 with a postseason trip to Omaha that ended abruptly with two losses to Tulane and Baylor, the 2006 team set the bar high for what they wanted out of their season.

A team loaded with top-caliber pitching, a run-preventing defense, explosive bats and experienced coaches had their eyes set on not only making it back to Omaha, but being the ones to hoist up the trophy at the end of it. 

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Former Oregon State second baseman Darwin Barney was sure that his team would get there. 

“Our mindset going into that season was very driven,” Barney said. “We weren’t going to get satisfied with just getting to Omaha.” 

At the start of the regular season, the Beavers got off to a red hot start winning 11 of their first 16 games before entering into conference play. These proved to be dominant wins, with the Beavers earning a +43 run differential throughout the early stretch of the season.

Looking back on those 16 games, Barney believes that it was of his favorite moments of the eventual championship season.

“Getting off to that start and then making everything happen that early,” Barney said. “The team was definitely driven early, on what our sole plan was for that season.” 

The Beavers continued to shine in PAC-10 play. They would end up winning the conference with a 16-7 record and a 39-14 overall record before the postseason. The team’s efforts saw them climb as high as the fifth-ranked group in the country before the start of Regionals.

Oregon State hosted the Corvallis Regionals right at their home field, Goss stadium. They faced off against Wright State, Kansas and Hawaii in three straight days. The three series set proved to be no match for the Beavers. 

Allowing no more than three runs in each game and having explosive offensive performances of 12 and 13 runs in the last two games, the Beavers earned home-field advantage yet again for the Super Regional.

Oregon State began the Super Regional against familiar a opponent in Stanford, ranked 17th at the time. In the best two out of three series, the Beavers swept. 

After winning the first game in a tight fashion, 4-3, the Beavers exploded in game two in a 15-0 win that proved to be an all-around team performance. The 2-0 series win put the Beavers back in the College World Series in Omaha for the third time in team history and for the first time in back to back years. 

“In 2005, when we went to Omaha, we dog piled and we ended up losing.” Barney said. “That season, we weren’t dog piling until we were able to win it all.” 

Going into the College World Series, Oregon State faced off against the University of Miami for the first game of the double-elimination tournament. Miami came out strong, defeating the Beavers 11-1, setting them up for one game away from elimination. 

The Beavers would then string together four straight wins on the brink of elimination. Through Oregon State’s strong pitching and defense, they would end up only allowing three collective runs in the four-game stretch. 

Those four straight wins would lead Oregon State to an unfamiliar place—the championship of the College World Series.

The stage was set. The North Carolina Tar Heels and the Oregon State Beavers would play against each other in a best-of-three series. Both programs had their first-ever chance at a national championship.

The two teams battled to a tight decision in game one. Tied up at 3-3 a piece, North Carolina managed a solo home run that sealed the deal for the series opener. The Beavers were unable to respond, and the opening game was decided, 4-3 Tar Heels. 

Facing their fifth elimination game of the College World Series, the Beavers once again started game two with their backs against the wall. 

Oregon State’s bats came alive, exploding with a seven-run fourth inning. Allowing for the Beavers to win game two, 11-7. Forcing the final game for the best-of-three series. Winner takes all. 

An 80-degree Omaha summer evening set the scene on June 26. The Beavers and the Tar Heels facing off one last time for the title. The vision that Oregon State had since leaving Omaha disappointed last June. 

The game started off in a pitcher’s duel. Going the first three innings scoreless on both sides. 

It was not until the fourth inning when either team was able to break onto the scoreboard, with the Beavers striking first, 2-0. In the fifth inning, the Tar Heels would tie the ball game back up with a pair of runs.

The stalemate would last into the bottom of the 8th, where the Beavers earned a third run with a two-out rally to put them up 3-2, before going into the 9th inning with only three outs in between them and a championship. 

Oregon State would allow North Carolina to take first and third base with two outs. But a flyout to centerfield would seal the deal and allow for Oregon State to take home their first-ever baseball championship. 

The pressure was finally lifted off of their shoulders. The Beavers were finally able to dog pile.