The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Baseball National Champions, Back-to-Back

Four interviews conducted by Greg Garcia, Chris Petersen, and Mike Dicianna.

October 2015 - July 2016


From 2005 to 2007, the Oregon State University baseball program enjoyed a sustained run of success that is without parallel in university history. Over the course of three seasons, the Beavers participated in the College World Series three times, winning back-to-back national championships in 2006 and 2007. In the process, OSU also achieved multiple milestones that are unequalled in the history of college baseball.

The 2005 team, as led by Pac-10 co-player of the year Jacoby Ellsbury, won the conference championship in finishing the regular season with a record of 41-9. After hosting, and sweeping, their regional playoff tournament, the Beavers defeated the University of Southern California in a tense three-game super-regional series to clinch OSU's first trip to the College World Series since 1952. Once arrived in Omaha, OSU lost two consecutive close games and was eliminated from the tournament.

In 2006, OSU was once again led by a conference player of the year, this time left fielder Cole Gillespie. After claiming a second consecutive conference championship with a regular season record of 39-14, the Beavers swept their regional and super-regional opponents to make a return trip to the College World Series. The Beavers' experience in Omaha this time around will forever be remembered as among the most tense and exhilarating performances in school history. After losing their opening round game to Miami by a score of 11-1, OSU fought its way through the loser's bracket to ultimately win the national title in a three-game series with the University of North Carolina. In doing so, OSU set a College World Series record by winning six consecutive elimination games. The Beavers also earned the distinction of having played in half of the tournament's sixteen total games. The club finished the year with fifty wins, a school record.

The 2007 team began the year on a tear, winning twenty-three of twenty-six non-conference games. The club struggled mightily during the conference campaign however, finishing the year with a Pac-10 mark of 10-14 and, by many accounts, entering the college baseball playoffs as the final team selected. After claiming a hard fought regional tournament victory over the University of Virginia, the Beavers swept a super-regional match-up with the University of Michigan, winning the first game of the series despite tallying only a single hit. Oregon State then travelled to Omaha for its third consecutive College World Series appearance and did not lose another game. The Beavers' dominance was so complete that they only trailed for one inning during the tournament, and also set an NCAA record by winning four tournament games by six or more runs. This astounding streak was completed by sweeping the University of North Carolina in the championship series, the second straight year in which OSU claimed the national title by defeating the Tar Heels.

Pat Casey (b. 1957) has served as head baseball coach at OSU since 1994, during which time he has led the program to two national championships, four College World Series appearances, and four conference titles. In 2012, he won his 614th career game, becoming the winningest baseball coach in more than one-hundred years of OSU baseball. (He won his 700th game in 2015.) Born in McMinnville, Oregon and a graduate of Newberg High School, Casey was an all-conference outfielder at the University of Portland and played in the minor leagues for seven seasons. He came to OSU after spending seven additional seasons as head baseball coach at George Fox College.

Kevin Gunderson, a native of Portland, joined the Beaver baseball squad out of high school in 2004. A relief pitcher and the team's closer in 2005 and 2006, Gunderson earned All-Conference honors in each of his three seasons at Oregon State. Gunderson's final save as a Beaver came in the final game of his OSU career - the clinching Game 3 match-up versus North Carolina in the 2006 College World Series. Gunderson concluded his collegiate career holding school records in career saves (37) as well as saves in a season (20). Leaving school after his junior season, Gunderson was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the fifth round of the 2006 Major League Baseball draft.

Chris Kunda, raised in Philomath, Oregon, joined the OSU baseball program as an invited walk-on in 2003. An everyday starter at second base during his senior year, Kunda thrilled Beaver baseball fans with his superlative defense. Following the 2006 season, Kunda was name Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, receiving the award in the first year that it was offered by the conference. He was also named Most Outstanding Player of the 2006 regional playoff tournament in Corvallis. Kunda completed his OSU career tied for seventh place in school history on the career doubles list. Like Kevin Gunderson, Kunda was also drafted in the 2006 Major League Baseball draft, by the New York Yankees, in the nineteenth round.

Mike Parker (b. 1959) has been the radio "Voice of the Beavers" since 1999, during which time he has broadcast OSU football, men's basketball, and baseball games. Born in California and raised in Cottage Grove, Oregon, Parker attended the University of Oregon, graduating in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in Rhetoric and Communications. Prior to coming to OSU, Parker broadcast minor league baseball games with the Eugene Emeralds and Portland Beavers, and also hosted sports radio talk shows for two Portland stations. In addition to providing play-by-play commentary for OSU athletics, Parker broadcasts Corvallis Knights summer league baseball games and co-hosts the Joe Beaver Show for KEJO-AM Corvallis.