Prior Shuts Down Florida International In NCAA Super Regional Win

June 1, 2001

LOS ANGELES-Anthony Lunetta hit a 3-run home run and Mark Prior threw a complete game 7-hitter as No. 2 USC beat No. 19 Florida International, 5-1, in the first game of the NCAA Baseball Los Angeles Super Regional before a standing-room-only crowd of 2,120 fans at USC's Dedeaux Field on Friday evening (June 1).

USC, seeded third overall in the NCAA Championships and winner of an unprecedented 12 College World Series, improved to 43-17. Unseeded Florida International dropped to 43-20 in the first-ever meeting between the schools.

The teams meet again on Saturday (June 2) at 1 p.m. in the best-of-3 series, with a third game if necessary on Sunday (June 3) at 1 p.m. The winner of this Super Regional advances to the College World Series in Omaha June 8-16.

Florida International, playing in its fifth consecutive NCAA tourney (but its first Super Regional), wasted little time getting to Prior, the Collegiate Baseball magazine national Player of the Year. With 1 out in the top of the first, Matt Huntingford hit an opposite field double that landed on the left field line and he scored on Hector Nunez's RBI single to right.

It took 5 innings for USC to get on the board, although the Trojans had runners on first and second in the second and had the bases loaded in the third. Abel Montanez hit the first pitch in the bottom of the fifth for an opposite field home run to right, his third of the season. Seth Davidson doubled one out later and Bill Peavey walked. Then, with 2 outs, Lunetta hit the first pitch he saw for a 3-run home run (his fifth of the year) to knock Golden Panthers starter Paul Zervas out of the game. Lunetta, starting at second base for the first time since April 8 (a sore throwing elbow limited him to being the designated hitter since then), hit his first homer since March 13.

USC added its final run in the sixth. With 2 outs, Davidson singled and Alberto Concepcion walked. Reliever Joshua Banks came in and then hit Peavey and walked Lunetta on a full count to get Davidson home.

Prior improved to 14-1 while striking out 9 and walking none. His sixth-inning strikeout of Huntingford was his 183rd of the season, setting the USC and Pac-10 season strikeout record (breaking ex-Trojan Seth Etherton's mark). He now has 189 strikeouts this season. It was also the second consecutive post-season game where he has not walked a batter (he is 2-0 in the post-season with 23 strikeouts).

Florida International threatened in the ninth, as Barry Paulk and Huntingford both singled with no outs. But Prior struck out the next 2 batters and got the third out on a line drive to third.

'I came out in the first and I was a little tentative,' said Prior. 'They didn't hit it hard, but they did what they had to do to get that first run in. I wasn't used to seeing that many lefties in the lineup, so it took me a little while to get settled. I throw better when I'm into the game emotionally and after Abel (Montanez) hit that bomb, it really got me fired up.'

Zervas fell to 7-4 in suffering the loss, giving up 8 hits and 4 earned runs while walking 3 and striking out 2.

Lunetta, Davidson and Peavey each had a pair of hits to pace USC's 11-hit attack, with Lunetta getting 4 RBI. The Trojans left 12 men on base and hit into a pair of double plays.

Huntingford and Paulk had 2 hits each for the Golden Panthers.

'You've got to give a lot of credit to USC and Mark Prior,' said FIU head coach Danny Price. 'He did a great job. He was everything I heard he was. We knew coming in we'd get a window, maybe 2, to get something off of him. We got windows in the first and ninth. In one we got a run and the other time he shut us down.'

FIU    100-000-000 -- 1-7-0USC    000-041-00x -- 5-11-0

WP - Prior (14-1) LP - Zervas (7-4)Zervas, Gazitua (5), Banks (6) and Duenas, New (8).Prior and Concepcion.

T - 2:44 A - 2120

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