Saturday, June 6, 1998
The Trojans pounded out 23 hits in outlasting Arizona State 21-14 at Rosenblatt Stadium.
"The last 21-14 I saw was so exciting-- one of the best in history," Dedeaux said. "But it was SC playing Notre Dame in football. In 1931."
If nothing else, Saturday's three- hour-and-59-minute game-- the longest title game in tournament history-- showed just how unsafe any lead is in college baseball.
In spite of leading 8 - 0 after 1 1/2 innings and 14 - 8 after 6 1/2, Southern California needed a five-run ninth inning to punctuate its win. Arizona State, which collected 16 hits in losing, refused to fold and actually had the tying run at the plate with one out in the eighth inning.
Jason Lane, who picked up the win with 2 1/3 innings of somewhat effective relief, broke the CWS record for hits in a series. He pushed his hit total to 15 with three against the Sun Devils, including a spirit-crushing ninth-inning grand slam that gave USC its final four runs.
The Trojans also got two home runs from Robb Gorr and another from Brad Ticehurst. USC mixed in four doubles and even a steal of home while squeezing half-a-season of highlights into one game.
It took USC just nine batters to get Murphy's best pitcher, junior left-hander Ryan Mills, out of the game. Gorr hit a three-run homer in the first inning, and the Trojans opened the second with back-to-back doubles by Lane and Jeremy Freitas.
Mills, who had thrown almost 270 pitches in his last two starts-- crucial victories in the regional tournament and the second game of the CWS-- left after Seth Davidson's infield single moved Freitas to third.
Rachels made it 7-0 when he greeted reliever Aaron Kramer by driving his second pitch 15 rows into the left-field bleachers for a three-run homer. Moments later, Gorr followed with his second homer of the game, which gave USC an eight-run lead but no feeling of comfort.
Michael Collins' grand slam, his first homer of the season, capped Arizona State's five-run second.
Rachels made it 9-5 with an RBI single in the third but the Sun Devils scored three unearned runs off Lane in the fourth. Jeff Phelps followed Andrew Beinbrink's sacrifice fly with a two-run homer, and suddenly it was 9 - 8.
USC countered with two runs in the sixth as Rachels tomahawked an RBI double and then scored on Gorr's sacrifice fly. The Trojans expanded their lead to 14-8 with a three-run seventh, triggered by Morgan Ensberg's steal of home with the bases loaded. Ensberg's theft was part of a triple steal, and Rachels followed with a two-run single.
Arizona State reduced USC's six-run cushion to one with five runs in its half of the seventh, with Rudy Arguelles singling home two runs, Mikel Moreno driving in one with a double and Beinbrink bringing home two with his 12th homer.
Ticehurst's fourth homer of the series, a two-run shot in the eighth, hiked USC's lead to 16-13. Casey Myers cut the Arizona State deficit to 16-14 with his eighth homer, and Krawczyk came trotting in from the bullpen after Greg Halvorson followed Myers' blast with a single.
Krawczyk pulled the plug on Arizona State's comeback hopes, retiring all five batters he faced. The Trojans made his task a bit easier by scoring five more runs in the ninth, four coming on Lane's grand-slam homer.
When Krawczyk got Beinbrink to fly out to left for the final out, it touched off a celebration that once was commonplace for the Trojans in Omaha.
The Trojans won partly because of their ability to come back. USC lost the second game of its regional tournament, but won three elimination games to earn its ticket to Omaha. The Trojans were beaten by LSU in the first round, then ran off five straight must-wins to become the first team since Arizona in 1980 to claim the title after losing its opening game.