Oregon State had just one hit Sunday afternoon &
but it was a big one.
Joey Wong's ninth-inning single scored Braden Wells with the only run of the game as the defending College World Series champions beat Michigan to take the opening game of their Super Regional series.
Jorge Reyes, Joe Paterson and Eddie Kunz combined on the shutout for the Beavers, who are one win from returning to Omaha.
Wong, a freshman, said Michigan starter Zach Putnam fed him a steady diet of splitters before finding one to his liking.
"It was another splitter," Wong said of Putnam's final pitch of the game. "He'd been throwing them all day and making us look silly. But I just happened to be the guy and found a hole. And it squeaked through the infield."
Oregon State's Scott Santschi opened the ninth with his second walk of the game, and he was replaced at first by the speedier Wells.
Lonnie Lechelt sacrificed Wells to second. Putnam fanned Chris Hopkins for the second out before Wong delivered the clutch single. It appeared there would be a close play at the plate, but Wells easily beat the throw.
"Once I heard the crack of the bat, I just took off and there was no stopping me," Wells said. "I was getting to home plate."
Said Oregon State coach Pat Casey: "Little things win big ballgames. And the bigger the game, the smaller the things are that win them."
Though the game was in Corvallis, Michigan (42-18) was the designated home team, so the Wolverines batted last.
Nate Recknagel got a one-out single off Paterson. But Kunz, the 42nd overall pick in the recent baseball draft, recorded two groundouts to earn the save.
The second game of the best-of-three series is scheduled for Monday afternoon. A third game, if necessary, would be played Tuesday. The first game of the series was scheduled for Saturday, but postponed because of rain.
"There's no question we're a national team. It just wasn't meant to be today," Michigan coach Rich Maloney said. "We came here to win this thing and we really believe we've still got a chance."
Putnam (8-5) struck out eight and walked three before departing after Wong's game-winning single.
"There's no way I could take him out; he's our thoroughbred," Maloney said of Putnam. "He's a champion. He wouldn't come out anyway, that's how it is."
Reyes, the freshman who started for the Beavers, lasted seven innings, the longest outing of his brief college career. He allowed three hits, struck out one and walked none. Paterson (10-6) got the win.
"You just try to find a way to win games like this," Casey said. "Fortunately for us, we did."
Putnam didn't allow an Oregon State baserunner until Santschi's one-out walk in the sixth. The Beavers (43-18) had just two batters reach before the ninth inning. The other was Wong's walk to open the seventh.
Cal State-Fullerton 2, UCLA —
At Fullerton, Calif., Matt Wallach, the son of former major leaguer Tim Wallach, hit a go-ahead single in the seventh inning to help lead Cal State Fullerton past UCLA and into the College World Series for the second straight year.
With the game tied at 1, John Curtis led off the seventh with a single and moved to second on Chris Jones' sacrifice. Wallach followed with a single to left-center field that scored Curtis.
Arizona St. 7, Mississippi —
At Tempe, Ariz., Arizona State advanced to the College World Series for the second time in three years by completing a two-game sweep of Mississippi.
Josh Satow (13-3) scattered five hits and walked five in 7 2-3 scoreless innings for the Sun Devils. Brett Wallace homered and drove in three runs.
Arizona State scored twice in the second inning when CJ Retherford led off the inning with a home run and Wallace had an RBI double. Wallace had the big hit in a four-run fourth inning with a two-run homer. Tim Smith and Andrew Romine also drove in runs in the inning.
Mississippi scored its lone run on a sacrifice fly in the ninth.
Arizona State will face UC Irvine in the first round of the College World Series.
One hit, one win for Beavers