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Trojans Have a Reyes of Hope

College baseball: USC wins regional as pitcher shows his value in shutout of Fresno State.

May 28, 2001|GARY KLEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

On a USC pitching staff that features both the projected No. 1 pick in the upcoming major league draft and the Pacific 10 Conference's all-time strikeout leader, it's easy for others to be overlooked.

But Anthony Reyes proved again Sunday that the Trojans have much more than a 1-2 punch in Mark Prior and Rik Currier.

Reyes, a sophomore from Whittier, pitched a three-hitter, struck out 10 and faced only two batters over the minimum as USC won an NCAA regional with an 8-0 victory over Fresno State before 1,594 at Dedeaux Field.

The Trojans (42-17), seeded third nationally, advance to one of eight best-of-three super-regionals that will begin Friday. USC plays the winner of a regional at South Bend, Ind., that will not conclude until today. Florida International is playing Notre Dame for that regional title.

Super-regional sites will be announced today.

"I thought we had the best pitching staff going into this thing and I think we proved it," said Reyes, who picked off runners at second base in the first and eighth innings, did not have a walk and improved to 5-3 with his fourth consecutive outstanding performance.

USC had another big day on offense, matching the season-high 17 hits it produced in the regional opener against Oral Roberts. Catcher Alberto Concepcion and right fielder Abel Montanez each hit home runs and drove in two runs. Designated hitter Anthony Lunetta also had two runs batted in and Concepcion, shortstop Seth Davidson and third baseman Michael Moon each had three hits.

For the second time in three regional games, the Trojans did not commit an error and Reyes continued a trend of uncanny control. USC pitchers had only three walks in 27 innings of regional play against Oral Roberts, Pepperdine and Fresno State--and one was intentional.

"The strength of this team is pitching and defense," USC Coach Mike Gillespie said. "The lack of extra opportunities given by the pitching and defense is critical. This team deserves high marks for that."

The Trojans took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Brian Barre scored from third on a wild pitch by Francisco Nieves (7-4).

They gave Reyes a cushion with a three-run fifth inning that started with Barre's two-out infield single. Davidson scored on an error by right fielder Tobey Riday-White after Concepcion's run-scoring single, and Concepcion scored when Lunetta's pop-up to shallow left field was misplayed and fell in for a single.

That was more than enough for Reyes, who has given up only one earned run in his last 33 innings. The victory was Reyes' fourth in a row, coming after wins against UCLA, Washington State and Oregon State.

Reyes threw 102 pitches in his second complete game this season. He gave up singles in the first and seventh innings and a double in the eighth. He also hit one batter.

"I felt like I was kind of toying with them a little bit," Reyes said. "I was getting them to hit pitches I wanted them to hit."

Fresno State (41-25) lost its regional opener when Pepperdine's Dan Haren handed the Bulldogs their first shutout of the season. Reyes ended the Bulldogs' season with another shutout.

"Reyes had great stuff, as good as anyone we've seen," Fresno State Coach Bob Bennett said.

Reyes showed the nation what he is capable of at last year's College World Series when he gave up three hits and struck out 10 in 7 1/3 innings in a season-ending defeat to Florida State.

He was 2-1 with a 3.34 earned-run average in six starts for the U.S. national team last summer, but was a victim of tough luck and poor run support for much of this season. Going into an April 29 start against UCLA, he was 1-3 with a 4.91 ERA.

Reyes took matters into his own hands down the stretch giving up only one run against UCLA and Washington State and none against Oregon State.

"I feel stronger again at the end of the season," Reyes said. "I'm relaxed out there and nothing is bothering me. I'm ready for the next one."

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