While his players said they didn't care who wins today's College World Series game, Arizona State coach Pat Murphy has a favorite.
"I hope USC wins . . . and then after that I don't care who wins," Murphy said Wednesday after his Sun Devils gained the finals by beating Long Beach State 14-4.Two-time defending champion LSU would advance to Saturday's title game with a win today over Southern Cal. A USC win would force a second game Friday, with the winner taking on ASU.
Murphy said his team's three-day rest gave it an advantage over Long Beach (43-23-1), which had three games in five days.
Arizona State (41-22), which scored in every inning but one, had 18 hits, including three home runs, to earn its first spot in the finals since 1988. It also marks the first time it enters the game undefeated (3-0) in series play.
As his team enjoys another lengthy break, he said he hopes Southern Cal (47-17) forces a second game against LSU (48-17) so Friday's winner will be stuck with a limited bullpen.
"We have got a nine-inning ballgame left," Murphy said. "We've got to keep doing what we're doing."
Murphy's pick, USC, is the farthest from reaching the title game. The Trojans face a rematch of their first-round game, where LSU's sluggers hit a record eight home runs - four against right-hander Seth Etherton, scheduled to start today's game. The Tigers rallied in last Saturday's game for a 12-10 victory.
"I'm lucky to get another shot at them," said Etherton, selected by Anaheim as the No. 18 pick in Tuesday's amateur draft. "I can't really change anything that I have been doing all year. This is something for me to get done with what I've already got."
After hitting six more homers against Mississippi State, LSU needs one more to break the USC's 1995 CWS record for team homers in a single tourney.
Etherton (12-3, 3.22 ERA) admits that the Tigers could break the home-run mark against him.
"The record doesn't really mean anything to us," said LSU first baseman Eddy Furniss, who homered against Etherton. "We've hit 154 home runs already this season. One more will not be a big deal. We're just aiming to win."