Associated Press Writer
ATLANTA (AP) – Southern California starter Rik Currier kept Georgia Tech’s hot-hitting offense off balance for 7 2/3 innings, leaving the Trojans one win away from advancing to the College World Series after a 7-2 victory Friday night.
Currier allowed two runs on nine hits in Game 1 of the best-of-three NCAA baseball Super Regional at Russ Chandler Stadium. Currier (14-3) struck out six.
“I just tried to keep all of my pitches down,” said the junior right-hander. “I knew they were a pretty good offensive team, and I knew we’d have our jobs cut out for us.”
Anthony Lunetta and Josh Persell hit two home runs each for Southern California (42-18) and Seth Davidson added three hits.
“I think we both just hit a couple of mistakes,” Persell said. “That’s what we have to do, keep getting clutch hits when the pitcher makes a mistake. If we keep doing that, we’ll be all right.”
Game 2 is Saturday at 7 p.m.
The Yellow Jackets (50-15), ranked No. 1 in both final regular-season national polls, lost for the first time in nine games. In a three-game sweep of last week’s sub-regional, Georgia Tech scored 51 runs and totaled 59 hits.
Loser Cory Vance (13-3) pitched seven innings, giving up five runs on 10 hits. Both of Georgia Tech’s runs came on Jason Perry’s second-inning home run.
“After a game like this, you just tip your hat to (Southern California),” said Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall. “We never could make the adjustments that we needed to make on (Currier) to get better swings. You give up that many home runs in a game, most of the time you’re going to get beat.”
The Yellow Jackets threatened in the eighth, getting two men on base off Currier before reliever Ronald Flores ended the rally by striking out Jason Basil and getting Derik Goffena on a grounder.
Flores gave up one hit in the ninth before picking up the save.
“Both of our pitchers did a great job,” said Southern California coach Mike Gillespie. “We knew they could do it, but it was just a matter of them having to go out there and do it.”
Lunetta’s first homer, a two-run shot in the fourth, gave the Trojans a 3-2 lead, and back-to-back solo home runs by Lunetta and Persell in the sixth stretched the margin to 5-2.
Two insurance runs for Southern California came off reliever Jeff Watchko in the eighth inning Persell’s second solo homer and Brian Barre’s sacrifice fly.
The Trojans took a 1-0 lead in the first after Davidson singled, stole second, advanced to third on Rob Garibaldi’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Justin Gemoll’s single.
“I felt good,” Vance said. “It was very disappointing. I felt like on all three home runs they hit off me, I hit my spot and changed speeds. They just did a good job of hitting.”
Georgia Tech’s Mark Teixeira, who entered the game batting .422, was 2-for-4.