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COLLEGE BASEBALL

Long Beach State Falls Short of Omaha Goal

June 14, 2004|Paul McLeod | Times Staff Writer

Arizona made the best of the gifts it got from Long Beach State on Sunday, while the 49ers squandered golden opportunities. The result got the Wildcats back into the College World Series at Omaha for the first time in 18 years.

Nick Hundley's sacrifice fly to center field drove in Moises Duran with the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning and Arizona beat Long Beach State, 4-3, to win the third and deciding game of the NCAA baseball super regional at Blair Field.

Duran reached second base to open the inning on a throwing error by third baseman Danny Mocny. A wild pitch by Neil Jamison (3-5) moved him into scoring position.

It was the first victory in a super regional by Arizona (35-25-1) since the format was introduced in 1999. Arizona's Andy Lopez is only the third coach in history to guide three different teams to the College World Series.

A South Bay native who began his career as coach at Division II Cal State Dominguez Hills, Lopez won a World Series title at Pepperdine in 1992. He also took Florida to Omaha twice in seven seasons.

Poor execution at key junctures proved costly for the 49ers (40-21).

Chuck Sindlinger led off the top of the third inning with a single. But Mocny missed a hit-and-run sign and Sindlinger, who had one stolen base this season, was thrown out at second. Mocny followed with a triple.

In the top of the 10th inning, with John Bowker on first base, shortstop Jason Donald let a potential double-play ball by Tory Tulowitzki go through his legs for an error. That gave the 49ers runners on first and third with nobody out. Arizona brought its infield in and Duran threw out Bowker at the plate from short second base when Vargas hit the ball at him.

John Meloan pitched a strong 8 2/3 innings. He threw 144 pitches but didn't get the decision. He went into the ninth with a 3-2 lead. But with one out, the 49ers put runners on first and second. The next batter, Sean Boatright, tied the score by hitting a pitch out of the strike zone into right.

"It was a breaking ball," Meloan said. "I thought if I threw it for a strike I'd get him out. It was a little up and he took care of business."

OTHER GAMES

Miami 3, Florida 1 -- Cesar Carrillo (11-0) pitched a four-hitter at Coral Gables, Fla., to give the Hurricanes their 21st trip to the College World Series.

The victory gave Miami a super regional sweep over the Gators (43-23), who have been eliminated by the Hurricanes (50-11) three consecutive seasons.

It will be the third trip to Omaha in the last four years for Miami.

Louisiana State 4, Texas A&M 0 -- Will Harris hit a three-run homer in the top of the ninth at Baton Rouge, La., to lead the Tigers to their second consecutive College World Series.

The Tigers (46-17) will make their 13th overall World Series appearance after sweeping the Aggies (42-22) in a super regional.

Harris' homer broke open a duel between Texas A&M's Zach Jackson (10-7), who did not give up a hit in the first five innings, and Louisiana State's Lane Mestepey (7-3), who pitched a five-hitter.

South Carolina 5, East Carolina 3 -- Steven Tolleson hit a two-run, go-ahead double in the eighth inning at Columbia, S.C., to lead the Gamecocks (50-15) to their third consecutive College World Series.

East Carolina (51-13) led, 3-2, in the eighth when second baseman Trevor Lawhorn was summoned to the mound with a runner on first and one out.

Lawhorn, who had faced only three batters this season, struck out the first batter. But pinch-hitter Ryan Mahoney hit a single to right field to drive in Brenden Winn from second for a 3-3 tie.

After Lawhorn (0-1) walked the next batter, Tolleson doubled and Lawhorn returned to second base.

Times wire services contributed to this report.

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