College World Series : Abbott Struggles, LSU Eliminates Long Beach

Times Staff Writer

Cal State Long Beach completed an otherwise memorable season Monday with a performance the 49ers would probably like to forget. Long Beach, participating in its first College World Series, absorbed its second consecutive defeat in the eight-team, double-elimination tournament, losing to Louisiana State, 8-5, before a crowd of 14,618 at Rosenblatt Stadium.

Long Beach, which lost to Texas, 7-1, Saturday, concluded the season 50-15.

Texas (53-17) remained unbeaten in the tournament Monday with a 12-2 victory over Miami (49-17).


Miami will meet LSU (54-16) tonight in a West Division elimination game. Arkansas (51-15) will play Wichita State (64-16) today in an East Division elimination game.

“We came in here with expectations to really be on top of it and to play real good, quality baseball,” Long Beach Coach Dave Snow said. “Unfortunately, we just played in spurts.”

Long Beach pitcher Kyle Abbott, the Angels’ No. 1 pick in Monday’s free-agent draft, lasted just 2 1/3 innings against LSU in his poorest performance of the season. Abbott, making only his second start in 22 days, gave up seven runs, allowed three hits and issued five walks.

Abbott said he had difficulty keeping the day’s events out of his mind while he was pitching.

“I think it was back there a little bit,” said Abbott, a junior left-hander who finished the season 15-3. “When I went in, I felt real loose and my arm felt good. The ball was taking off on me. . . . I couldn’t bring the ball down and that was my biggest problem.”

Abbott, however, wasn’t the only 49er who performed short of his usual ability.

Other than Todd Guggiana, who had three hits, and outfielder Dan Berthel, who had a two-run double in the fourth inning and a solo home run in the eighth, the 49ers looked nothing like the team that advanced to the World Series by sweeping the West I Regional at Tucson.

Center fielder Darrell Sherman, the leadoff hitter and catalyst of the 49ers’ offensive attack, entered the tournament batting a team-high .381 with 55 walks and 39 stolen bases.

During the World Series, he failed to reach base in all nine of his plate appearances.

“I could see the ball, it was like a beach ball, but my body wouldn’t react,” Sherman said. “I just picked a bad time to have a bad (series).”

LSU took a 2-0 lead in the second inning, then got all the runs it would need during a six-run third. Tookie Johnson delivered the key blow, a bases-loaded double off Long Beach reliever Robby Corsaro.

LSU starter Curtis Leskanic (15-2), a junior right-hander, gave up five runs and 10 hits in 7 2/3 innings to earn the win. Paul Byrd finished the game for his first save.

Texas handed Miami its worst defeat of the season by roughing up Hurricane starter Alex Fernandez (15-2), a freshman All-American right-hander whose only other loss of the season was also to the Longhorns.

“We just got trashed tonight,” Miami Coach Ron Fraser said. “We were a pretty dead ball club.”

Craig Newkirk, a sophomore third baseman, did most of the damage against the Hurricanes with solo home runs in the second and sixth innings and a run-scoring single that chased Fernandez during a six-run eighth that blew the game open.

Brian Dare (5-4) earned the win, pitching 4 2/3 innings in relief of Texas starter Scott Bryant, the Cincinnati Reds’ No. 1 draft choice, who was making just his second start of the season.

Bryant, a junior right-hander, did not allow a hit in 4 1/3 innings.

Bryant is batting a team-high .385 with 18 home runs and 109 runs batted in as a designated hitter. He was pressed into service as a pitcher toward the end of the regular season to help shore up a Longhorn staff anchored by All-American Kirk Dressendorfer.

College Series Notes

Texas third baseman Craig Newkirk is six for nine in the tournament with six runs batted in. . . . Joe Grahe, Miami’s senior right-hander, who earned a complete-game victory over LSU Saturday, was selected by the Angels Monday in the second round of the draft. . . . Eric Albright of Rolling Hills, a senior catcher at Texas A&M;, was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the seventh round of the draft. . . . Six former players from Sacramento City College are here, including: Bob Reboin, Clyde Keller and Rob Bargas of Florida State, Matt Gruver and Craig Cala of LSU, and F.P. Santangelo of Miami.