USC Defeats Host Long Beach State, 6-4, At 2005 NCAA First-Round Regional.

June 5, 2005

LONG BEACH, Calif. - Sophomore right-hander Ian Kennedy went 8 1/3 innings and closer Paul Koss struck out All-America shortstop Troy Tulowitzki with two outs and runners on the corners Saturday as the USC Trojans defeated the host Long Beach State 49ers, 6-4, in game four of the 2005 NCAA First-Round Regional at Blair Field. A record crowd of 3,233 witnessed a nailbiter of a contest as the Trojans advance to the championship round tomorrow while the 49ers plays Pepperdine in an elimination game at 1 p.m.

The winner of the Long Beach State-Pepperdine game must defeat USC in the 5 p.m. championship round game to force a winner-take-all game on Monday at 7 p.m.

USC improved to 39-19 on the season, winners of six of its last seven games. The Trojans have defeated the Dirtbags in all four meetings this season by a combined six runs in the evenly-played series. Long Beach State fell to 37-21.

Freshman first baseman Matt Cusick (Mission Viejo/Santa Margarita HS) went 3-for-4 with one RBI and is now 5-for-6 in regional play. Baron Frost went 1-for-3, extending his season-long hitting streak to 12 games.

Kennedy (Huntington Beach/La Quinta HS) threw 121 pitches (81 strikes) to improve to 12-2 on the season. He allowed four runs on eight hits while walking two batters (one intentionally) and striking out six. As a semifinalist for three major awards, including the Roger Clemens Award, Kennedy now has 150 strikeouts on the season and is tied for fourth on USC's single-season list with current Chicago Cubs pitcher Mark Prior (Prior struck out 150 in his 2000 sophomore season and set the school record with 202 in his 2001 junior season).

Koss (Orange/Orange Lutheran HS) earned his 13th save of the season and second for the regional with two-thirds of an innings. He is now fifth on USC's single-season list, two behind Jason Garner (1995) for fourth place.

Marco Estrada (8-3) took the loss for Long Beach State, allowing four runs (three earned) in 4 1/3 innings. Estrada made the start after 49er head coach Mike Weathers elected to save staff ace Cesar Ramos for tomorrow.

In the bottom of the second, USC shortstop Blake Sharpe walked and moved to third on a double by Frost. Right fielder Darin Vieira took ball four on a full-count pitch from Estrada to load the bases with one out. Second baseman Hector Estrella then hit a tailor-made double play ball to short. Long Beach turned the first part, but second baseman Chuck Sindlinger's throw bounced in the dirt and into the Dirtbags' dugout as two runs scored for the Trojans.

The 49ers got their first run in the third on Sean Boatright's RBI double to left, scoring right fielder Steve Velazco. USC intentionally walked Tulowitzki for runners at first and second with two outs and retired Evan Longoria on a pop-up to shallow center.

With two outs in the fourth, Jose Hernandez hit a fly ball that three USC fielders lost in the lights as it fell for a double. Sindlinger then tied the game with a bloop single to center to make it a 2-2 contest.

Vieira was hit by a pitch to lead off the USC fifth inning. On a sacrifice attempt by Estrella, LBS first baseman Brandon Godfrey tried to throw to second, but Vieira beat the throw to put runners at first and second. Zack Kalter's sacrifice attempt was unsuccessful as Vieira was retired at third by Estrada. Long Beach reliever Steve Hammond entered and gave up an RBI single to Cusick. All-America catcher Jeff Clement followed with an RBI single and on the throw from right field, the ball got past Longoria to score Cusick. Clement then stole third and scored the fourth run of the inning on Hammond's wild pitch.

Kennedy hit Tulowitzki to lead off the top half of the eighth, followed by Longoria's RBI double. Longoria would eventually score on an RBI groundout by catcher Chris Jones and cut the USC lead to 6-4. Pinch-hitter Tom Wolf knocked out Kennedy in the ninth with a single up the middle. Cole Jacobsen then singled pinch-runner Tom Sarti to third before Koss got Tulowitzki swinging on a 1-2 fastball to end the game.

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