Monday, June 5, 1989
Louisiana State right-hander Curtis Leskanic, overshadowed by friend and foe, pitched a school-record 15th victory Monday in the College World Series.
Leskanic helped the Tigers topple Cal State Long Beach 8-5 in Rosenblatt Stadium, eliminating the 49ers from the CWS and pinning a loss on first-round draft choice Kyle Abbott.
LSU, the sixth seed in the tournament, capitalized on a six-run third inning to improve to 54-16. Long Beach State, the eighth seed, finished at 50-15.
Leskanic, unlike Abbott and LSU teammate Ben McDonald, heard no news from the draft Monday. But he improved his record to 15-2. McDonald, the first pick in the draft, is 14-3.
Abbott, a junior left-hander, slipped to 15-3-and left prematurely in the third because of a mixup in the 49ers' dugout.
Leskanic, a junior from Munhall, Pa., allowed 10 hits in 7 2/3 innings. He saw an 8-0, third-inning lead dwindle to three runs.
"Curtis did a real good job," LSU Coach Skip Bertman said. "Long Beach State refused to fold and made a great comeback.
"This is what the World Series is all about: A first-round pick, Abbott, leaves in the third. And Corsaro, with 25 hits and 23 innings, shuts us down for five innings. And Berthel hits a ball 425 feet, his second homer of the year.
"That's what it's all about. Everybody has to contribute to win out here. You can't count on your stars like you do in basketball and football."
Long Beach State's Robby Corsaro, who had allowed 27 hits in 23 1/3 innings, relieved Abbott in the third after the 49ers' pitching coach unwittingly made his second trip to the mound in the inning. Pitchers have to come out after a coach's second visit in an inning.
Long Beach State's Dan Berthel, a junior right fielder, homered to center field in the eighth for his second homer of the year.
LSU had its own unsung hero, Bertman said. Scott Schneidewind, who platoons in left field, contributed a two-run double that put LSU on the scoreboard in the second.
"It was a two-strike, key hit," Bertman said.
LSU sophomore second baseman Tookie Johnson, extending his hitting streak to 24 games, drove in three runs with a double to cap the scoring in the six-run third.
Johnson said hitting streaks can be misleading.
"Everybody assumes you're going well," he said. "One game you might hit a bleeder.
"It's good that the hit helped today."
No bleeder, his double went to the wall in left.
Leskanic got into trouble in the sixth inning. But after Todd Lloyd's two-run double drove in two runs and cut the LSU lead to 8-4, Jay Carballo went down swinging on an 0-2 pitch.
"It was a slide ball away," Leskanic said. "It was definitely a ball out of the zone. He swung at it and helped me out a lot."
Abbott, drafted in the first round by California earlier Monday, lacked his usual control.
"I didn't think the draft would affect me," Abbott said, "but it was in the back of my mind a little bit.
"The ball was taking off on me. I want to see the videotape to see what I was doing wrong mechanically."
Bertman had his own diagnosis of Abbott's trouble.
"When lefties, especially hard throwers, leave the ball high outside - if you can just lay off that pitch - it's very tough for them to adjust.
"The curve ball being a feel pitch, he has to feel for it, and he has to come back with the fastball. He wasn't able to do that."
Abbott was forced to leave when pitching coach Wally Kincaid was charged with a second trip to the mound in the third.
Abbott already had walked in a run, and he had a two-ball, no-strike count on the batter with the bases full when Kincaid came out, thinking it was his first visit of the inning.
He left Abbott in the game, but the plate umpire ordered the pitcher removed.
Long Beach State Coach Dave Snow said people in the dugout thought it was the first visit of the inning.
"We were going to give Abbott one more hitter," he said.
Abbott, in 2 1/3 innings allowed three hits and walked five. Going into the game, he had walked an average of one batter every two innings.
Snow was asked if losing two straight in the CWS spoiled his first season as the 49ers coach.
"At the moment it does," he said. "I am proud of each and every one of these guys. They had accomplished a tremendous amount."