June 8, 2008

2008 Super Regionals

UC Irvine Sneaks Past LSU

Hidden ball trick stops Tiger rally in sixth


By Robert Stewart

The Daily Reveille

Robert Stewart is a freshman sports writer for the Daily Reveille at LSU. He has worked for the Daily Reveille since January 2008 and has covered baseball, softball and track and field. A native of Baton Rouge, Robert is currently majoring in journalism at LSU.

BATON ROUGE, La. - UC Irvine came into Baton Rouge knowing it would face a raucous LSU crowd recently revitalized by LSU’s 23-game winning streak.

The crowd did not faze the Anteaters, who picked up an 11-5 victory against the Tigers on Saturday at Alex Box Stadium in front of 7,460 fans.

I knew this atmosphere was a good atmosphere, with a lot of people and a lot of noise,” said UCI starter Scott Gorgen of the crowd, most of which was dressed in gold.

But a controversial call in the top of the sixth inning overshadowed UC Irvine’s win.

In the top of the sixth, LSU loaded the bases with two outs after Gorgen surrendered three straight walks and an RBI single to pull the Tigers to within four at 6-2.

UC Irvine then took a big risk that paid off.

After the RBI single by Tiger sophomore center fielder Leon Landry, UC Irvine called an infield meeting to discuss the situation.

Anteaters second baseman Casey Stevenson secretly took the ball from Gorgen and moved back toward second base, where LSU freshman shortstop DJ LeMahieu was off the bag.

LeMahieu rushed back to second base, where Stevenson tagged him. LeMahieu was ruled out, which sent the LSU coaching staff and fans into a frenzy.

“From my vantage point, the second baseman broke toward [LeMahieu], DJ
took his left foot and stepped back on the base,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “I thought he was clearly safe. I didn’t think the umpire was watching.”

LSU assistant coach Javi Sanchez was ejected for arguing with second base umpire David Rogers.

The Tigers (46-17-1) lost for the first time since April 19 against Georgia, snapping their Southeastern Conference record 23-game win streak.

UC Irvine (42-16) is now one win away from going to its second straight College World Series after restarting its baseball program in 2002.

Gorgen (12-3) picked up the victory for the Anteaters, allowing only two runs on six hits in 6.2 innings.

“I was able to locate my pitches early and get ahead of the hitters,”
said Gorgen, a fourth-round selection (125 overall) of the St. Louis Cardinals. “At that point I was just mixing all three of my pitches and locating my fastball in and out.”

LSU starter Ryan Verdugo (9-3) took the loss in five innings of work, walking the first two batters of the game. UC Irvine quickly capitalized with a two-RBI single by junior designated hitter Tony Asaro.

LSU sophomore Paul Bertuccini relieved Verdugo in the sixth inning. Bertuccini followed Verdugo’s path and walked the first two batters he faced.

Bertuccini surrendered a three-run home run to Anteaters outfielder Sean Madigan two at-bats later.

Bertuccini lasted 1/3 of an inning.

“[Bertuccini] threw me two straight curveballs and then threw another one
for a strike,” Madigan said. “I was just sitting on another curveball and he threw it to me, and I just connected.”

UC Irvine capitalized on several LSU mistakes. LSU pitchers gave up five walks, all of which resulted in runs for UC Irvine.

“A lot of different guys took part in this thing,” Gillispie said. “We
felt like we had a lot of heroes in this one.”