[T]he matchup isn't close at all on paper - UNC should win in a landslide. They've got a better lineup and better pitching, your basic recipe for winning. However, dig a little deeper and OSU doesn't match up all that bad.
Maybe it's a sign. It's a sign that last year's Oregon State championship shouldn't have happened.
Canham and senior outfielder Mike Lissman are Oregon State's two best power bats, and both will probably need to have good series to keep up with a UNC team that has found its power stroke over the last two games. Lissman will be under the microscope--he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft a month ago for taking nearly $8,000 from an elderly relative, but the Beavers never punished him for the incident.
I'm going to throw my prediction in here, and it's just so hard to pick against the defending national champion when they are this rested, and this poised. I say Oregon State wins in three games. I'll call for a 7-6 thriller in 12 innings on Monday.
The News & Observer (here too):
There could be two arguments made, based on the fact that this is a rematch of last year's championship. Some figure UNC has the edge because it is hungry for revenge. Others say Oregon State has the psychological advantage, knowing it has already beaten the Tar Heels. In all likelihood, those two emotions will cancel out.
"It's kind of ironic to be back with them here in this situation," said Horton, the junior shortstop who's a team-best 7-for-18 (.389) in the CWS. "It reminds me of how close we were and how second place feels. We stood there and watched them celebrate and I think a bunch of the guys that were there remember that feeling."
Reyes will take the ball for the Beavers on Saturday night against North Carolina in the opener of their best-of-three showdown. How unlikely is it that a defending national champion would turn to a wisp of a freshman to begin its quest for a second title?
And here's a treasure trove of stats for starting pitcher Alex White and the starting lineups. They've also got pictures if you want to relive UNC-Rice.