USC Beats ASU in the World Series

    June 6, 1998

    Associated Press Writer

    OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - After Southern California went two decades without a championship, Jason Lane needed only one unbelievable week to restore order for the nation's most decorated baseball program.

    Lane's grand slam capped a five-run ninth inning as the Trojans won their first NCAA title in 20 years, beating Pac-10 rival Arizona State 21-14 Saturday in the College World Series.

    Wes Rachels went 5-for-7 with a championship game-record seven RBIs as the Trojans (49-17) won their NCAA-best 12th baseball title by outlasting the Sun Devils (41-23) in a 39-hit shootout.

    "It couldn't be more special," said a tearful USC coach Mike Gillespie. "I can't express how thankful we are to the guys. They did a tremendous job. I'm sort of speechless."

    Lane (9-2) led the CWS with a .517 batting average in six games and had a win and a save. His 15 hits set a series record and he also had four homers to tie teammate Brad Ticehurst for most this series.

    When USC beat LSU 7-3 to eliminate the two-time defending champions on Friday, Lane homered twice, then took the mound in the eighth to stop a two-out rally. The victory put the Trojans in the title game.

    On Saturday, he replaced starter Rik Currier in the second and pitched 2 1-3 innings to become the pitcher of record for the Trojans, while going 3-for-6 with a single and double.

    When his grand slam cleared the fence in right-center, Lane pumped his fists as he circled the bases. In a game of offensive surges on both sides, he had finally put USC over the top.

    "I had a pretty good idea that it might get it done," Lane said. "We've played each other a few times and we knew what we needed to get offensively."

    The teams combined to set 35 CWS records and tied another 17 in a game that epitomized college baseball: Hits flying off aluminum bats and no lead ever being safe.

    "It's definitely a sign of the times," Arizona State coach Pat Murphy said. "You're at a point of the season where everybody is swinging it so good. You hit a routine fly ball and it goes out of the ballpark."

    Even an early 8-0 lead didn't stand up for USC. The Sun Devils rallied behind a second-inning grand slam by Michael Collins, and pulled to 9-8 on a two-run homer by Jeff Phelps in the fourth.

    "An eight-run lead wasn't enough," said Rachels, named most outstanding player of the CWS. "A six-run lead wasn't enough. A three-run lead wasn't enough. Emotions were high all day long."

    Southern California got a momentum boost in the seventh when Morgan Ensberg stole home with the bases loaded and two outs. He faked the steal on three pitches. Gillespie said the play was planned.

    "We've actually done it before," he said. "Despite the fact that it obviously makes no sense, it's been remarkably successful for us."

    That made it 12-8, and Rachels followed with a single to left field, driving in two more runs.

    The Sun Devils answered in the bottom of the seventh with a lob single to left field by Rudy Arguelles that scored Casey Myers and Greg Halvorson. Andrew Beinbrink then hit a two-out, two-run homer into the right field light tower to make it 14-13.

    Still, the outcome was uncertain until the Trojans came to bat in the top of the ninth with a 17-14 lead.

    Robb Gorr, who earlier had homered twice, reached on a fielder's choice and took second on a single by Eric Munson. Ensberg doubled, driving in Gorr to extend the lead.

    Ticehurst walked and Lane followed with the home run off Sun Devils reliever Chuck Crompton that just cleared the wall.

    Trojans reliever Jack Krawcyzk got the final five outs, setting NCAA records with his 23rd save of the season and 49th of his career.

    Gorr added two home runs and Jeremy Freitas was 5-for-6 with four singles and double.

    USC, which lost 12-10 to LSU in the series opener, became the first school since Arizona in 1980 to lose its first game but come back to win the tournament.

    Gorr started the Trojans with a three-run homer in the first off Ryan Mills (8-4), the ace of the Arizona State staff and the sixth overall pick in last week's amateur draft by the Minnesota Twins.

    Murphy, who on Friday claimed USC players and staff had stolen signs as the teams split six games this season, denied any no link between stolen signs and the loss.

    "It definitely did not decide today's game," Murphy said. "We gave up 21 runs. That's what did it."

    Omaha, Nebraska
    Rosenblatt Stadium

    	 123 456 789  R  H  E
    USC      351 002 325 21 23  1
    ASU      050 300 510 14 16  0


  • Jack Krawczyk holds ASU scoreless in the ninth to give USC the title.
  • Jason Lane hits a grand slam for USC in the ninth.
  • Chuck Crumpton replaces Lowery at pitcher for ASU in the ninth.
  • Morgan Ensberg hits a double to score Gorr for USC in the ninth.
  • Jack Krawczyk replaces Wiebling at pitcher for USC in the eighth.
  • Casey Myers hits a solo homer in the eighth for ASU.
  • Phil Lowery replaces Pennington at pitcher for ASU in the eighth.
  • Brad Ticehurst hits two-run home run for USC in the eighth.
  • Chad Pennington holds USC scoreless in the eighth.
  • Andrew Beinbrink hits a two-run homer for ASU in the seventh.
  • Mike Wiebling replaces Immel at pitcher for USC in the seventh.
  • Arguelles scores on a double by Mikel Moreno in the seventh for ASU.
  • Rudy Arguelles hits two-run single for ASU in the seventh.
  • Wes Rachels hits a two-run single for USC in the seventh.
  • Morgan Ensberg steals home to score for USC in the seventh.
  • Chad Pennington replaces Kramer at pitcher for ASU in the seventh.
  • Steve Immel pitches second straight scoreless inning for USC in the sixth.
  • Wes Rachels hits a double to score Seth Davidson for USC in the sixth.
  • The fifth inning is the first inning in which neither team scores.
  • Steve Immel comes in to pitch for USC in the fourth.
  • Jeff Phelps hits two-run homer for ASU in the fourth.
  • Wes Rachels hits single to score Jeremy Freitas for USC in the third.
  • Jason Lane replaces Currier at pitcher for USC in the second.
  • Michael Collins hits grand slam in the second for ASU.
  • USC's Gorr hits his second homer, a solo shot, in the second.
  • Wes Rachels hits three-run homer for USC in the second off of Kramer.
  • Aaron Kramer replaces Mills at pitcher for ASU in the second.
  • USC's Currier strikes out the side in the first.
  • USC's Rob Gorr hits three-run homer in the first.
  • Rik Currier starts at pitcher for USC.
  • Ryan Mills starts at pitcher for ASU.