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Fortunately for unheralded Bears, BCS no barrier to Omaha

From staff and wire reports

If the sport had been football, it almost certainly could not have happened.

Taking advantage of a postseason system which is not gerrymandered, Southwest Missouri State figuratively spat in the eye of the college sports barons on Sunday and earned itself a berth in the College World Series.

The NCAA's even-handed baseball playoff format, which encourages teams to earn a shot at the national championship the old-fashioned way, gave SMSU the chance to prove its worth where it counts — on the field — which it did in convincing fashion with a 13-7 whipping of Ohio State.

Ironically, and perhaps appropriately, the collegiate athletic program the humbly-financed Bears dumped by the wayside in punching their first-ever ticket to Omaha was the one that added the Bowl Championship Series' so-called national football championship trophy to its overflowing treasure chest little more than five months ago.

The Buckeyes defeated Miami in January's Fiesta Bowl to claim what the BCS organization calls a national football championship. The cartel of four bowls, aligned with six conferences and television interests, stages the BCS each year in a format that has never allowed a team from a league outside the group to compete for its title — or for that matter, in any of its lucrative non-championship bowls.

The baseball tournament, on the other hand, is conducted by the NCAA and is broadly patterned after the wildly popular 64-team basketball playoff which invites programs from all eligible Division I conferences.


In addition to SMSU's 13-7 defeat of Ohio State, Sunday's games produced the following results:

• Miami 11, N.C. State 5 in 11 innings
• Rice 10, Houston 2
• LSU 20, Baylor 5
• Cal State Fullerton 7, Arizona State 1
• Texas 8, Florida State 3
• Southwest Missouri State 13, Ohio State 7

Stanford and South Carolina advanced Saturday by winning their super regional series. Following are recaps of each of Sunday's games:

Miami 11, N.C. State 5

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Erick San Pedro's grand slam highlighted a six-run 11th as Miami defeated North Carolina State and advanced to the College World Series.

The Hurricanes (44-15-1) swept the super regional series against the Wolfpack (45-18) and are going to Omaha for the 20th time — and eighth in 10 seasons under coach Jim Morris. Miami, which has won the national title in each of its last two trips to the CWS in 1999 and 2001, will play either Florida State or Texas in the first round.

With the score tied 5-5 in the 11th, Ryan Braun led off with an infield single and scored after errors on consecutive plays. Gaby Sanchez was intentionally walked to load the bases, and San Pedro connected on his fourth homer of the season two outs later. Adam Ricks added an RBI single.

Chad Orvella had three hits and scored three runs for North Carolina State, which failed in its bid to reach its first College World Series since 1968.

Rice 10, Houston 2

HOUSTON — Jeff Niemann scattered four hits over seven innings for his 16th straight victory, and Vincent Sinisi hit a three-run homer as Rice evened its super regional series with Houston.

Niemann (16-0), who hasn't lost since May 8, 2002, finished with 12 strikeouts. The Owls (52-11) also got solo homers from Craig Stansberry, Paul Janish and Enrique Cruz.

The teams will play again Monday, with the winner advancing to the College World Series. Houston (37-29) is looking to making its first trip to Omaha since 1967, while Rice is trying for its fourth appearance in seven years.

LSU 20, Baylor 5

BATON ROUGE, La. — Clay Harris' grand slam sparked an 11-run sixth inning that sent Louisiana State to the College World Series. Ryan Patterson and Jon Zeringue also homered for LSU (45-20-1), which will make its 12th trip to Omaha since 1986 — and first since winning the 2000 national championship.

The Tigers, who have won five CWS titles, will play against Cal State Fullerton in the first round.

Baylor (45-23) was attempting to get to Omaha for the first time since 1978, but the Bears used five pitchers and walked six batters before they got out of the sixth inning.

Chris Durbin and Mark Saccomanno both homered in the first to give Baylor a short-lived 3-0 lead.

Cal State Fullerton 7, Arizona State 1

FULLERTON, Calif. — Dustin Miller scattered three hits over 7 2-3 innings, and Cal State Fullerton scored all of its runs in the first three innings and earned a trip to Omaha.

Miller (9-2) allowed just one run before giving way to Chad Cordero, who pitched the final 1 1-3 innings. Danny Dorn and Kyle Boyer both homered and Shane Costa drove in two runs for the Titans (48-14), who are making their second College World Series appearance in three years.

The Sun Devils (54-14) entered the series as the nation's top-hitting team (.352) and top-scoring squad with 10.35 runs per game, but tied a season low with just five hits against the Titans. It was only the fourth time this season — and second during the series — Arizona State was held to one run.

Southwest Missouri State 13, Ohio State 7

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Tony Piazza's grand slam capped an eight-run sixth inning as Southwest Missouri State earned its first trip to the College World Series with a 13-7 victory over Ohio State on Sunday night.

Shaun Marcum also homered for the Bears (40-24), who swept the super regional series at Ohio State's Bill Davis Stadium and will play the winner of the Houston-Rice series in the first round in Omaha.

Southwest Missouri State came within a win of going to the College World Series in 1999, and again last season.

The Bears led 3-0 before Ohio State (44-21) scored the next six runs. But Southwest Missouri State broke it open with seven unearned runs in the sixth, capped by Piazza's grand slam and Marcum's solo shot.

Brett Garrard and Steve Caravati homered for the Buckeyes.

Copyright 2003 Staff member Danny Whitford and The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

02/23/2007 10:44:43 AM

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