Miami (Fla.) 8, Fresno State 4

Monday, June 6, 1988

Reliever keeps Hurricanes alive

Miami freshman Greg Knowles pitched his way into the record book in the College World Series Monday.

"He's been a great one," Miami Coach Ron Fraser said of the 19-year-old reliever, who came on in the fifth inning and stayed to complete an 8-4, 12-inning victory over second-seeded Fresno State at Rosenblatt Stadium.

"Fresno State was potentially the strongest team," he said. "We thought if we could win this one, maybe we could go all the way."

Fresno State, 56-12, finished 0-2 in the CWS, tied for seventh with California.

The tie-breaking run in the four-run 12th inning scored on a wild pitch. That was unfitting for a game dominated by Knowles and Fresno State starter Rich Crane.

John Salles, Fresno State's starter and the loser in the first round, relieved a tiring Crane in the 11th and uncorked the wild pitch with the bases full in the 12th.

Meanwhile, Knowles allowed only one run in the final 7 1/3 innings to raise his record to 9-2.

He broke Neal Heaton's Miami freshman victory record set in 1979.

Fresno State Coach Bob Bennett said Knowles "had a good curveball and got it over the plate."

Hurricanes' catcher Frank Dominguez agreed, and paid tribute to Crane, the Bulldogs' sophomore left-hander.

"He kept the breaking ball outside," Dominguez said, "and then came inside and low with the slider."

Knowles said he had to be careful against Fresno State.

"This ballclub, one through eight, could hit the ball out of the park," he said. "I had to mix up my pitches."

Steffen Majer, the Miami starter, saw the Bulldogs' power, yielding home runs to Lance Shebelut with one aboard in the first and to Steve Vondran with the bases empty in the fifth, four batters before Knowles entered the game.

Shebelut reached Knowles for two singles. The senior first baseman said Knowles was effective because he threw curves when batters expected fastballs.

Shebelut's homer, his 32nd of the year, increased his own school season and career records, the latter to 39.

Vondran, a junior designated hitter, hit his 16th homer for the last run until the 11th inning.

Each team scored then, with Miami seeing a second run thrown out at the plate.

Mike Fiore's two-out double in the 11th was the first Miami hit since Jose Trujillo singled to open the third.

Fiore's blow was also the signal to Bennett to lift Crane in favor of Salles. The left-hander had thrown 152 pitches, about the limit Bennett had scheduled.

Designated hitter Will Vespe, the Hurricanes' probable pitcher tonight, singled Fiore home after Fiore had reached third on a bobbled ground ball.

Fresno State tied the game in the 11th on singles by Brandon Mitchell and Steve Hosey, with a sacrifice bunt in between, and Steve Pearse's sacrifice fly.

To open the last of the 12th, Miami right fielder Rey Noriega beat out a high chopper that shortstop Eddie Zosky fielded behind the mound.

After Noriega stole second, third baseman Rob Word laid down a bunt that rolled down the third-base line for a single. After a walk, Salles bounced a pitch that rolled to the retaining wall on the third-base side as Noriega scored easily.

Fraser said he was pleased to see other players besides Fiore contributing to the Miami attack.

"Fiore didn't do it," Fraser said, "but other people added to the thing today.

"Word contributed a great bunt when we needed it. And other people were contributing, and that's what we need to win, which we haven't been doing. One or two guys in the offense, and that's it."

Salles, a junior right-hander who brought a 15-0 record into the tournament, suffered both Fresno State losses here.

Crane gave up three runs and six hits in the first two innings.

"After the early innings, I got on a roll, there was some great defense and everything was going smooth," Crane said.

Despite the loss, Bennett said he was pleased with the Bulldogs' performance.

"I thought it was a well - played game," he said. "Crane pitched an outstanding game, and I thought their two pitchers pitched a great game. Real, real good pitching will hold down good hitting."

Bennett, in summing up his team's season, said, "I don't think you can get to the World Series without having a good year. We wanted to win, but we're not disappointed with our season."

Knowles, a 6-foot-2, 182-pounder from Plantation, Fla., said he tries to pitch as if the game is scoreless.

He was asked how he felt entering the game with two runners on, the score tied 3-3 and two out in the fifth. His answer indicated he was dedicating his performance to the seniors, especially Majer, Dominguez and Fiore.

"I had to go out there with the attitude that any pitch could be the last pitch," he said. "I definitely did not want to lose this game - because of the guys like Steffen, Frank and Mike. They have worked hard this year and all the years they have been here.

"It was time for me to suck it up and do the job."

More games played in 1988 CWS

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