OMAHA, Neb. — Oregon State’s Jorge Reyes got himself and his team a whole lot closer to the national championship trophy that’s been teasing him.
Forced to sit by it at a recent news conference, the Beavers’ starter noted the hardware was placed just out of his reach. But he did his part to change that, pitching the Beavers to an 11-4 victory over North Carolina in Game 1 of the College World Series final on Saturday night.
‘‘The trophy was right there, and I sure want it,’’ the Oregon State freshman said. ‘‘Now I put our team one game closer to it.’’
Now the Tar Heels, who won three straight elimination games to set up this rematch of last year’s finals, need to win twice more to keep Oregon State from becoming the first back-to-back national champion since LSU in 1996-97.
The Beavers, who have won all four of their CWS games and 10 of their last 11 overall, know they have some unfinished business. After all, they lost Game 1 last year before beating North Carolina twice for the title.
‘‘We’re excited about winning the first game,’’ Oregon State coach Pat Casey said, ‘‘but we’re also very well aware that you have to win two.’’
Reyes (7-3), allowed eight hits and three runs in 6 1-3 innings to win for the second time in the CWS and third time in the NCAA tournament.
The Tar Heels (57-15), who have come from behind to win five games in the NCAA tournament, couldn’t rally against Oregon State (48-18), which is 41-0 when leading after seven innings. And the pitching problems that plagued North Carolina early in the tournament appeared to return.
‘‘We got beat by a much better team tonight,’’ Tar Heels coach Mike Fox said. ‘‘On every phase of the game, they did much better than we did. We made mistakes pitching-wise and left the ball up. And they made us pay for it.’’
North Carolina freshman Alex White (6-7) gave up eight hits and five runs in 5 1-3 innings and lost for the second time in the CWS. He was rocked by Rice last Sunday.
Reyes gave up a double to Reid Fronk on the first pitch of the game, but held the Tar Heels scoreless until the fifth. By then the Beavers were up 3-0. After Fronk’s second double of the game cut it to 3-2, Oregon State scored once in the bottom half, twice in the sixth and four times in the seventh to break open the game.
After Reyes walked Garrett Gore with one out in the seventh, Joe Paterson came on and went the rest of the way to earn his second save. Reyes pitched three-hit ball for six innings against Cal State Fullerton in the Beavers’ Omaha opener. That came after he held Michigan scoreless on three hits in seven innings in super regionals. His other NCAA tourney win came against Rutgers in regionals.
The Tar Heels’ pitching staff came into the finals having allowed just six runs and 16 hits the previous three games after allowing 19 in the first two in Omaha.
On Saturday, six pitchers combined to allow 12 hits and six walks and hit two batters. The Tar Heels’ pitching really unraveled in the Beavers’ four-run seventh.
Tyler Trice, the fourth of six North Carolina pitchers, misplayed two bunts. He threw in the dirt after picking up Chris Hopkins’ bunt and threw over first baseman Dustin Ackley on Joey Wong’s, allowing two runs to score.
‘‘We were not tight,’’ Fox said. ‘‘We haven’t been tight since we’ve been out here. You’ve got to tip your hat to the other guy. That’s the bottom line.’’
Matt Cox came on and walked two in a row to force in another run.
The Beavers got to White in the second with two outs. He walked Scott Santschi before Jordan Lennerton hit his second homer of the CWS deep into the right-field bleachers.
‘‘I was just looking for a fastball I could handle,’’ Lennerton said. ‘‘He threw one belt-high in the middle of the plate, and I put a good piece on it. With the wind blowing in, I wasn’t sure how it would travel. Apparently I hit it well enough.’’