Saturday, June 3, 1989
Miami pitcher Joe Grahe outdueled college baseball's player of the year Saturday night as Louisiana State's Ben McDonald continued to be haunted by home runs in the College World Series.
Will Vespe and F.P. Santangelo each hit two-run homers as the third-seeded Hurricanes defeated the Tigers 5-2 before an all-time record crowd of 17,407 at Rosenblatt Stadium.
"We hit the home runs and played pretty good defense," Miami Coach Ron Fraser said. "But I thought the night belonged to Joe Grahe."
Grahe pitched a five-hitter, struck out eight and walked three in boosting his record to 15-4.
McDonald, expected to be the Baltimore Orioles' choice as the No. 1 pick in Monday's major-league draft, was plagued again by the long ball in the CWS. Two years ago, he surrendered a devastating home run - Paul Carey's grand slam that gave Stanford a 6-5 victory in 10 innings and eliminated the Tigers.
McDonald, 14-3, said he doesn't feel jinxed in the CWS.
"Not really," the 6-foot-7 junior right-hander said. "I haven't pitched my best here. But I don't feel snake bit. I'm not superstitious."
The Hurricanes, seeded behind Florida State and Texas in the CWS but ranked No. 1 in both national polls, advanced to the West Division winners' bracket game Monday night against Texas. The Longhorns defeated Cal State Long Beach 7-1 in Saturday's first game.
The double-elimination tournament returns to East Division action today when North Carolina plays Arkansas in an elimination game at 3:40 p.m. Top-seeded Florida State and Wichita State are matched at 7:30 p.m.
Grahe, a 6-1 senior right-hander from Lake Park, Fla., said he wanted to do well to shake the memory of his performance in last year's series. He gave up 13 hits and seven runs in Miami's 9-3 opening loss to Cal State Fullerton.
"I was just trying to look down that specter of what happened last year when I came down and wasn't the pitcher that I had been," Grahe said. "It was tough for me to put that in the back of my mind. After I realized that I could get guys out in the College World Series, it made my job a lot easier."
Grahe pitched out of a jam in the ninth to preserve the victory.
LSU's Keith Osik singled and Wes Grisham walked to open the inning. Grahe stayed in the game after a conference on the mound. The Hurricanes followed with a big double play on a grounder to second by LSU's Craig Cala. After Grahe walked Matt Gruver on four straight pitches, he ended the game when Mike Bianco took a called third strike on a 1-2 pitch.
Fraser said it helped the Hurricanes to jump on McDonald early in the game.
"The first homer, of course, that's the greatest play in baseball," he said. "We haven't seen much of it, but it's a great play. Getting the two runs gave us a little momentum, and when F.P. hit his, there was a lot of momentum for us."
Miami stung McDonald in the bottom of the first with Vespe's two-run home run. Jose Trujillo led off the inning with a single up the middle. With one out, Vespe homered over the right-field fence.
McDonald, who gave up 12 home runs this season prior to the series, surrendered another in the third when Santangelo made it 4-0 with his two-run homer, also to right.
The Hurricanes used the same formula. Trujillo singled to precede the home run, Santangelo's 22nd of the season.
"The first one was a mistake," McDonald said. "It was a changeup. That probably was my fault. The second one was a fastball. The guy guessed right and hit it out of the park. There's not much you can say."
Santangelo said he got lucky.
"I was just trying to hook the ball through the infield," he said. "It was a fastball outside, and I just turned on it. It was a fluke, basically."
Only Miami and Auburn hit more than one home run against McDonald this season. Auburn hit three.
LSU Coach Skip Bertman said McDonald had a tough assignment because of the attention he has received.
"The pressure on Ben McDonald was unbelievable, and actually unfair," he said. "Like there was an ESPN camera in the bullpen when he was warming up.
"He's been hounded several months, and he's handled it exceptionally well. He's not hurt. But I tell you it drains you. I'm as happy as anybody he doesn't have to pitch again before the draft."
Miami's Grahe breezed through the first four innings-limiting the Tigers to singles in the first and fourth. Grahe followed Tookie Johnson's leadoff single in the fourth by striking out the side.
LSU made its only dent against Grahe in the fifth. The Tigers loaded the bases on Gruver's single, a walk to Bianco and Phil Espinosa's single. Gruver scored on Ron Lim's fielder's choice.
The Tigers added another run, making it 4-2, on a fielding mistake by shortstop Santangelo that foiled what appeared to be an inning-ending double play.
Pete Bush grounded to second baseman Trujillo. Santangelo took Trujillo's throw but failed to touch second base in his attempt to turn the double play. Bush was retired, but Santangelo's error allowed Bianco to score.
Espinosa continued to third as Miami's players, thinking the inning was over, left the field. Fraser argued at length with second-base umpire Dale Williams, but television replays showed that Santangelo didn't touch second.
Miami got out of the inning when first baseman Henry Hernandez made a diving catch of a foul ball by Johnson.
McDonald pitched effectively in the middle innings. After Santangelo's homer, he retired 10 of the next 12 batters he faced.
Miami's John Viera ended that domination with a leadoff single in the seventh. He advanced to third when McDonald threw wildly on a pickoff attempt to first. Hurricane catcher Chris Hirsch made it 5-2 with an RBI single.
The game was the sixth between Fraser and Bertman, a former Miami assistant. Fraser has won five of six games.