Wednesday, June 14, 2000 • Box score
Southern Cal's search for the big hit Wednesday night kept getting hindered by Florida State pitcher Jon McDonald.
USC had two runners on in both the eighth and ninth innings, only to get thrown off the trail by McDonald. There were two other times in the middle innings where the Trojans picked up the scoring scent before the junior took it away.
"It's all well and good to say, 'Well, we had this chance and that chance,' " USC Coach Mike Gillespie said. "We can lament that. But I think in fairness to him, he was really, really good.
"Our players know that if I feel they should have done this, that or the other thing, they'll hear about it from me. But I think in this case, it's more credit to McDonald than shame on us."
Southern Cal stranded 10 runners on base in the final seven innings Wednesday night as its season ended with a 3-2 loss to Florida State. The Trojans, the 1998 College World Series champions, exited with a 1-2 record in their return to Omaha.
McDonald played a huge part in ending the hunt. The right-hander pitched a four-hitter, and both runs he allowed were unearned.
Before USC packed up, however, they put McDonald in some tough spots.
With the score tied 2-2 in the eighth, the Trojans put runners on first and third before Alberto Concepcion hit into a 5-4-3 double play. In the ninth, they had two on when Justin Gemoll lined a ball that FSU first baseman Ryan Barthelemy dropped but picked up in time to beat Gemoll to the bag.
USC threats in the fourth and sixth innings both ended with runners on second and third. Including USC's 6-4 win over FSU in the first round, the Trojans left 24 runners on base and 18 in scoring position against the Seminoles.
"It's certainly true that we did not get that one big hit that might have made a difference," Gillespie said. "Concepcion did hit the ball on the button in the eighth to the third baseman that they turned a double play on. There were chances. We understand that."
USC's inability to put the necessary runs on the scoreboard spoiled a solid effort by freshman pitcher Anthony Reyes, who allowed just three hits and two runs in 71/3 innings. Florida State got the winning run off relief ace Ronald Flores when Mike Futrell hit a two-out single in the bottom of the ninth.
Gillespie said Flores made a good 1-2 pitch to Futrell, a changeup that was low and outside. Futrell pushed it into right field to score Barthelemy.
"It's a real tough pill to swallow," Flores said, "but I'd rather have it be a good pitch that got hit softly for a base hit than hanging that changeup and having it be a three-run blast."
USC came to the CWS as one of the nation's hottest teams, going unbeaten through regionals and building its winning streak to 16 games when it beat FSU on Saturday. The Trojans finished 44-20.
"We're justifiably proud of our players and what we did to get here, and how we did while we were here," Gillespie said. "We're certainly going home earlier than we want to go home, but it doesn't change things for us in regard to the feeling we have for our players."
With just two seniors on the postseason roster and three juniors who were drafted, the Trojans have a solid nucleus set to return in 2001.
"I don't think people expected us to get here," Flores said. "Going to Fullerton, they didn't think we'd get past that. Then going to Georgia Tech, it was a no-brainer that we would lose. So getting this far is certainly something to be proud of.
"We all know that only one team walks away from this thing going to party, and the rest are left feeling the way we do."
-- Rich Kaipust