June 10, 2008

2008 Super Regionals

LSU Pounds UC Irvine, Heads to Omaha

Tigers smack seven homers to eliminate Anteaters


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. - Using a barrage of home runs, LSU punched its 14th ticket to the College World Series with a 21-7 victory over UC Irvine on Monday.

UC Irvine (42-18) was looking to make its second straight trip to Omaha.

“These last three years have been unbelievable, especially these past two,” UC Irvine shortstop Ben Orloff said of the Anteaters’ surge into the national spotlight. “The thing that we remember most is the tight groups that we’ve had.””

LSU (48-17-1) pounded out a postseason school-record 24 hits, seven of which were home runs. LSU sophomore second baseman Ryan Schimpf led the way with two home runs in the fifth and seventh innings.

LSU roared out to a 6-0 lead in the first inning and never looked back.

“Coming out and getting runs on them early like that, it puts them on their heels,” said LSU freshman catcher Micah Gibbs. “I know they’re a hit-and-run, bunt steal kind of team, so we took them out of their game.”

UC Irvine starter Bryce Stowell lasted only two-thirds of an inning, giving up six runs on five hits and taking the loss for the Anteaters.

“[The first inning] effectively and literally took our starter out of the game,” UC Irvine coach Mike Gillispie said. “If we were going to be able to contend in this tonight, we were going to need Bryce Stowell to pitch deep into the game.””

UC Irvine used a total of seven pitchers on the night, with only sophomore Christian Bergman lasting more than one inning.

LSU senior third baseman Michael Hollander scored from third base on Stowell’s balk to put LSU up 1-0.

The Tigers followed with three straight home runs.

Sophomore designated hitter Blake Dean, Gibbs and junior first baseman Matt Clark hit the three homers to push the lead to 5-0.

Clark’s home run ties him with Florida State catcher Buster Posey for the national lead with 26.

“Back-to-back-to-back home runs - you don’t see that very often,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “It just sent a message right away that we meant business.”

Things got a little heated when UC Irvine catcher Aaron Lowenstein and LSU outfielder Jared Mitchell exchanged a few words after the home runs.

Home plate umpire David Rogers gave a warning to both dugouts after the exchange.

“A couple of the guys [from LSU] were saying things to our pitcher after he was getting hit pretty hard,” Lowenstein said. “I thought it was unnecessary. But we got it straightened out.”

UC Irvine took back some of the momentum in the top of the third inning with a solo home run by junior third baseman Eric Deragisch.

A Dillon Bell double and a Lowenstein sacrifice bunt in the following at-bats gave UC Irvine a runner on third base with one out.

But LSU starter Blake Martin retired UC Irvine center fielder Ollie Linton and Orloff to end the inning.

“In the first game of the series we walked the first two batters of the game,” Mainieri said. “When Blake Martin went out there and set the tone [in the first inning], that gave our hitters a lot of confidence.”

LSU struck again in the fifth inning with a seven-run outburst, led by Schimpf’s home run and a bases-loaded walk by freshman outfielder Johnny Dishon.

LSU scored three runs in the seventh inning and two runs in the eighth inning to bring the final score to 21-7.

LSU played its final game in the 70-year-old Alex Box Stadium in front of a stadium-record crowd of 8,173 fans.

“I’ve got a bunch of memories here,” Hollander said. “It’s great to be a part of it. It’s something I won’t forget.””