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NCAA BASEBALL REGIONAL AT LONG BEACH

USC Puts Long Beach on the Spot

June 05, 2005|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

About the closest thing to a given in college baseball took the mound for USC on Saturday.

Ian Kennedy delivered what was expected from him, another in a string of quality starts, walking away with a 6-4 victory over Long Beach State in an NCAA Regional.

What made this one stand out a little more is that it put the Trojans (39-19) one victory away from a Super Regional next weekend.

The 3,233 in Long Beach's Blair Field -- the largest crowd in the stadium's history -- did not see a dominating performance. But even at less than best, Kennedy, plus some shoddy Long Beach (37-21) fielding, was more than enough to have the Trojans in prime position.

Long Beach and Pepperdine play in an elimination game today at 1 p.m., with the winner playing USC at 5 p.m.

Kennedy (12-2) gave up four runs and eight hits in 8 1/3 innings and had six strikeouts. But he was in control throughout, taking a 6-2 lead into the eighth inning. Paul Koss got the last two outs.

"Going into the game I felt nervous cause this is about the biggest game I've pitched in in two or three years," Kennedy said.

USC had loaded the bases with one out in the second inning when Hector Estrella hit what looked like a double-play grounder. But second baseman Chuck Sindlinger's throw to first skipped past Brandon Godfrey and USC led, 2-0.

The Trojans ended a 2-2 tie in the fifth, scoring four runs. With runners on first and second, Matt Cusick singled to right for a 3-2 lead. Jeff Clement followed with a single to drive in another run and Cusick scored when third baseman Longoria mishandled the throw from right fielder Steve Velazco. Clement stole third and scored on a Steve Hammond wild pitch.

*

Pepperdine 2, Rhode Island 1 -- Luke Salas' ground out to first base with the bases loaded scored Patrick Rooney with one out in the ninth inning to give the Waves the victory.

Pepperdine (39-22) was aided by two catcher interference calls on Josh Nestor, which led to both runs. Rhode Island finished 34-21.

After Rooney had singled with one out in the ninth, Adrian Ortiz fouled off a pitch, but Nestor was called for interference when the bat hit his glove on the swing. David Uribes followed with ground ball single to left field to load the bases. Salas then hit a grounder behind first base to end the game.

The Waves tied the score in the sixth inning with the help of another interference call, which put Chad Tracy on first base. He went to second on a wild pitch and scored when Danny Worth lined a single to right.

Right-hander Kea Kometani dominated, giving up five hits and striking out 10 before being pulled with one out in the ninth. Reliever Steve Kleen (4-3) stranded a runner on second in the ninth.

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