June 16, 2008


Tamed Tigers

LSU held in check for second loss in past 27 games


By Ben Trittipoe



OMAHA, Neb. – The LSU baseball team entered the 2008 College World Series as the hottest team in the nation.


The Tigers had won 25 of their last 26 games prior to arriving at Rosenblatt Stadium, including 23 in a row before an opening-game loss to UC Irvine in the Baton Rouge Super Regional June 7. Over that 26-game stretch, LSU had batted .332 with 51 home runs, 227 runs batted in and 254 runs.


That offensive juggernaut ran into an unmovable force Sunday in Game 4 of the CWS. Sophomore Alex White and the rest of the North Carolina pitching staff slowed down the Tigers enough, limiting them to eight hits en route to an 8-4 victory.


The UNC pitching staff came into the CWS leading the nation in earned run average (2.83), strikeouts (640) and opponent batting average (.227). White, the Atlantic Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year, pitched seven solid innings Sunday against the Tigers, allowing two solo home runs along with just two other hits to slow down LSU’s possible march to a sixth national championship.


“Their kid [White] was really good, really outstanding,” LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said. “He set the tone for the game and we dug ourselves too deep of a hole to dig out.”


White allowed a leadoff home run to LSU’s Michael Hollander (left, photo courtesy of LSU Media Relations Office), but he retired the next three batters. North Carolina came back with three runs in the bottom of the first inning before Tiger Matt Clark blasted another solo homer, his 27th of the year to take over the national lead, but that was as close as LSU would get.


The Tar Heels proceeded to knock out 17 hits against six LSU pitchers and carried an 8-2 lead into the eighth inning. The Tigers rallied against the UNC bullpen to score two runs and had the bases loaded in the eighth, but Rob Wooten came on to get a double play and he got out of a two-on, two-out jam in the ninth to give the Tar Heels the victory.


“It was a very frustrating game for us,” Mainieri said. “There were a series of just really tough breaks for us. I feel like they swung the bats well against us, but we helped them some, too.”


Mainieri is sure, though, the Tigers will be ready to face Rice in an elimination game Tuesday.


“This is an awesome tournament,” Mainieri said. “There are eight great teams; everybody is good. Someone has to lose, and we came up a little short today. The teams that have lost have to pick themselves up and be ready for Monday and Tuesday.


“Rice is a great ballclub, and we have to get the job done or it’s over. You can’t win the tournament in one game; you have to take it one game at a time. We have one game under our belt now, and I feel the kids will come out and play well on Tuesday.”