June 22, 2009

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LeMahieu Leads LSU Past Texas in 11

Tigers survive five solo homers by Longhorns


By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder

OMAHA, Neb. – LeMahieu might mean “hero” in Cajun.


Sophomore DJ LeMahieu (right) homered in the seventh, hit a game-tying two-run double with two outs in the top of the ninth, and scored the game-winner in the 11th as LSU outlasted Texas 7-6 in the first game of the championship series of the College World Series in front of 23,019 fans at Rosenblatt Stadium.


Game 2 of the CWS championship series will be played on Tuesday at 6 p.m. CT.


LeMahieu’s dinger with two outs in the seventh, his fifth, pulled the Tigers (55-16) to within one at 5-4.


“The lefty, [Austin] Wood, was dealing,” LeMahieu said. “He actually fooled me a little bit on that change-up. I kept my hands back and hit a line drive. I don’t know how it got out, but it did and I’ll take it.”


Sophomore Connor Rowe homered to lead off the bottom of the seventh for the Longhorns (49-15-1), his eighth, to push the lead back to two at 6-4. It would be the final batter for senior starter Louis Coleman and the final hit for Texas.


LeMahieu’s double in the ninth followed a one-out single by junior Sean Ochinko, who was replaced by sophomore Leon Landry, and a walk to senior Derek Helenihi. His two-bagger landed just fair in the left field corner to drive in Landry and Helenihi and knot the score at 6-6.


“I wasn’t going to the plate looking for a certain pitch,” LeMahieu said. “He had a good fastball. His change-up was his best pitch and that’s what I got. I hit it and didn’t know if it was going to stay fair or not. It stayed fair and it worked out well.”


After LSU loaded the bases with one out in the 10th and failed to score, LeMahieu led off the 11th. He fell behind 1-2 before working a walk against Brandon Workman.


“Workman was throwing really hard,” LeMahieu said, “had a really good curveball. He was shutting us down. I tried to find a way on any way I could and it happened to be a walk.”


With two outs, he stole second and took third on a throwing error by the catcher. Sophomore Micah Gibbs walked before freshman Mikie Mahtook lined a single up the middle to plate LeMahieu with the go-ahead run.


“The guy was throwing really hard,” Mahtook said. “I saw that from the dugout. I made a point to keep my foot down early and see every pitch. He threw me two fastballs. I took one and swung threw one. I fouled two balls, then he tried to bury a curveball that I’d been swinging at all game. I took one and he left one up and I hit it up the middle.”  


It gave the Tigers their first lead since the fourth.


 “That was probably the most courageous, never-say-die, resilient effort that I’ve ever seen out of one of my teams in 27 years of coaching,” LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said. “It was one for the ages.


“I thought it was a great ballgame. Even when we were down, I never felt that we were out of the ballgame. DJ got us close with his home run and his double there in the ninth inning tied the ballgame up. That was as clutch a hit as you’ll ever want to see. We had a chance there in the 10th and we couldn’t get the run across. Mikie got the big hit in the 11th.” 


Freshman closer Matty Ott (4-2) got two strikeouts and a groundout in the bottom of the 11th to secure the victory, the 14th straight for the Tigers. Ott pitched three hitless innings with one walk and three strikeouts.


“I thought Matty Ott was a real key to the game,” Mainieri said. “He came in after we tied the ballgame up in the ninth and three shutout innings, including closing them down in the 11th inning.”


The Tigers had taken an early lead. On the fourth pitch of the game, junior Ryan Schimpf hit his 22nd home run, a one-out shot to right center, to give LSU a 1-0 lead. It was Schimpf’s third dinger in this College World Series. The Tigers have scored first and in the first inning in each of their four CWS games.


Texas used the long ball to take the lead in the fourth. Senior Travis Tucker (left) led off with his third homer, a liner to left, to even the score at 1-1. Two batters later, junior Russell Moldenhauer crushed a dinger to center, his second, to give the Longhorns the lead. Two hitters after that, sophomore Kevin Keyes went deep to left, his eighth, to put Texas on top 3-1. It was the first time since 1998 that three players homered in one inning in the CWS.


LSU executed a perfect hit-and-run in the sixth to help tie the game. Junior Blake Dean had a one-out single and was on the move when Gibbs hit a grounder where second baseman Tucker had been before moving to cover second, allowing Dean to advance to third. One out later, junior Jared Mitchell hit a triple to left center to plate Dean and Gibbs, tying the game at 3-3.


Texas responded quickly. Moldenhauer, who had not gone deep prior to arriving in Omaha, belted his second homer of the game and third of the CWS in the bottom of the frame to give the Longhorns a 4-3 lead.


“I was feeling good today,” Moldenhauer said, “nice and relaxed at the plate, seeing the ball well. I put a good swing on them. Any time you put a good swing on them things like that can happen.”


With two down, Keyes singled, moved to third on a double by freshman Brandon Loy and scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-3 Texas.


LeMahieu finished with two hits, two runs and three RBI. Mitchell also had two hits and two RBI.


Moldenhauer went 3 for 3 for the Longhorns with two runs and two RBI. Keyes also had two hits and two runs for Texas.


Coleman went six innings for the Tigers with nine hits, six earned runs, no walks and six strikeouts. UT starter Chance Ruffin lasted 5.2 innings with five hits, three earned runs, one walk and 10 strikeouts, matching his season high.


“It was an incredible game,” Texas head coach Augie Garrido said. “It was two teams that were doing unbelievable things in an effort to win. It was an incredible performance by both teams.”


(photos courtesy of LSU & Texas Media Relations Offices)