It turned into a waiting game for Southern Cal All-American Gabe Alvarez at the College World Series. First, he waited for his bat to wake up. Then, he waited on the off-speed offerings of Miami pitchers.
Alvarez, who was hitting .176 coming into Friday night’s semifinal, had a record-tying five hits and three RBIs to lead Southern Cal past Miami 7-3 and into the CWS championship game.
“The last two games I didn’t get any hits,” he said. “So yesterday in practice I took some extra swings in the cage. My at-bats tonight, they were basically throwing me off-speed pitches. I waited and put the ball in play.”
Though Alvarez committed an error in the second inning that led to three runs, sixth-seeded Southern Cal (49-20) advanced to today’s title game against top-seeded Cal State Fullerton (56-9).
The Trojans, with a record 11 titles, will try to match their 1970 championship season when they lost their first tournament game then won the rest for the first of five straight CWS championships.
Southern Cal has won titles in its last seven straight trips to Omaha, but the last of those was in 1978. USC has won 11 of 12 championship games, losing only to Minnesota 2-1 in 10 innings in 1960.
Trojans coach Mike Gillespie noted it had been a long time between trips to Omaha. But he knew his recent teams had the talent to get there.
“About 45 games ago we started saying, ‘Let’s win one in a row,”’ he said. “It means let’s go out and play real well today.”
“We’ve earned everything we’ve gotten,” USC All-American Geoff Jenkins said. “For us to be playing that game tomorrow, we’ve earned it and we deserve it.”
Cal State Fullerton associate head coach George Horton said the Trojans have a dangerous offense.
“They’re a team where you don’t try to shut them down,” he said. “You stay in the ball game and try to outscore them.”
Second-seeded Miami (48-17) goes home with its second loss to USC in three games at the tournament. The Hurricanes won the CWS opener 15-10 last Friday, then lost 7-5 Wednesday.
USC will meet Fullerton for the third time this season. The Titans won 10-9 in Fullerton, while USC won 7-4 at home.
“We’re not going to take this lightly,” Jenkins said. “We know how good they are and they respect our talents as well. I definitely think there’s a little rivalry there.”