OMAHA, Neb. — Scott Santschi hit his first homer of the season and had two RBIs, and defending champion Oregon State survived some nervous moments to defeat Cal State Fullerton 3-2 in the College World Series on Saturday night.
OSU pitchers Jorge Reyes, Joe Paterson and Eddie Kunz combined to allow six hits as the Beavers began their bid to become the first repeat champion since LSU in 1996-97.
Fullerton’s Wes Roemer struck out seven to become the school’s career leader. Otherwise, it was another disappointing CWS start for the Arizona Diamondbacks’ first-round draft pick.
Oregon State (45-18) moves to a Monday game against Arizona State (49-13), which defeated UC Irvine 5-4 on Saturday. The Titans (38-24) will play UC Irvine (45-16-1) in an elimination game Monday.
Mike Lissman homered in the first and Santschi singled in a run in the second to put the Beavers up 2-0.
Roemer retired the next 13 in a row and 15 of 17 before Santschi homered to right with one out in the seventh to make it 3-1.
It was Santschi’s first home run since June 11, 2006, the day the Beavers swept a super regional against Stanford to set the stage for their first championship run in Omaha.
The Beavers, holding a one-run lead, got two quick outs to start the ninth before the Titans made things interesting.
Evan McArthur hit a short fly, and shortstop Darwin Barney and left fielder John Wallace couldn’t decide who would catch it. Barney peeled off at the last moment, leaving Wallace in an awkward position to make the play. Wallace took a step left, then lunged to his right, with the ball popping out of his glove.
Kunz came on and gave up a single to pinch-hitter Jon Wilhite, putting runners at the corners. Kunz then got pinch-hitter Joel Weeks to ground out to end the game.
The Titans, who got a home run from Nick Mahin in the third, were set up for a big inning in the eighth after Joe Scott singled and moved to third when Clark Hardman’s hard hit up the middle deflected off Paterson’s foot into right field.
With runners on first and third and none out, the Titans tried a safety squeeze play. Paterson fielded Josh Fellhauer’s bunt and caught Scott in a rundown between third and home. Hardman and Fellhauer moved up to second and third on the play before Mahin’s sacrifice fly pulled the Titans to 3-2. Paterson got John Curtis to fly out to end the inning.
Reyes (6-3) allowed three hits and one run in six innings before giving way to Paterson to start the seventh. Kunz earned his 12th save.
Roemer (11-7), who came into the CWS off three straight complete games, worked eight innings. He struck out seven to run his career total to 365, one more than Adam Johnson (1998-2000).
Roemer, one of the country’s most dominant pitchers for three years, is now winless in three CWS starts. He had a no decision and loss against North Carolina last year, getting worked over for six runs and 10 hits in 42/3 innings in his second meeting with the Tar Heels.
He has allowed seven home runs in 19 innings in Omaha.