May 31, 2009

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Coleman, LSU Headed Back to Supers

By Robert Stewart
Special to

BATON ROUGE, La. – The rout was on early and often for LSU against Minnesota Sunday night.


The Tigers rode the power of a 17-hit performance to a 10-3 victory against the Gophers to advance to the Super Regional round next weekend. LSU will host a Super Regional as the No. 3 national seed in the NCAA tournament.


“Just because we didn’t dogpile doesn’t mean we’re not excited about this victory,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “It was a great championship for us to win, and now we get to move on and take on either Rice or Kansas State next weekend with a chance to go to Omaha.”


The 10 runs were more than enough for Tigers starter Louis Coleman (left). The senior right-hander went 7.2 innings, giving up one run on five hits with eight strikeouts and no walks. Coleman received a standing ovation from the LSU home crowd after being relieved by senior Nolan Cain in the eighth inning.


“They came out and gave me a lot of runs early,” Coleman said. “It made it a lot easier for me to throw the ball over the middle of the plate and try to force some action.”


Coleman got into a jam in the first inning with runners on the corners and one out – designated hitter Matt Nohelty reached on an error by LSU third baseman Derek Helenihi, and second baseman Derek McCallum hit a single to right field. But Coleman struck out Michael Kvasnicka and catcher Kyle Knudson to end the inning.


Coleman then retired the next 12 batters he faced.


“I just tried to hit my spots and let the eight guys behind me do their work,” Coleman said.


LSU’s offense exploded one night after putting up only three runs on nine hits against Baylor on Saturday night.


DJ LeMahieu put up LSU’s first run on a RBI double to deep right-center field. Helenihi followed with a two-run single for a 3-0 lead. Jared Mitchell walked two batters later, and Schimpf gave the Tigers another RBI on a double to the right-field corner. Schimpf got to third base, but Mitchell was thrown out trying to run home to end the inning.


Coleman responded to the run support with a three-up, three-down inning in the bottom of the second.


The Tigers wasted no time in the third inning. Blake Dean sent the third pitch of the inning just past the left-field foul pole for a solo home run and a 5-0 LSU advantage. Sean Ochinko then ripped a RBI single to right field after Micah Gibbs singled and Mikie Mahtook was hit by a pitch. LeMahieu struck again with a sacrifice fly to right field to score Gibbs from third to put LSU up 7-0.


“We hit and we pitch. That’s been obvious the whole year,” Dean said. “It’s just a matter of time before our hitting catches on, no matter if it’s the eighth inning or the first or third.”


Gophers starter Allen Bechstein lasted only four innings, giving up seven runs on nine hits with one strikeout. Reliever Tim Ryan didn’t fare much better, giving up three runs on seven hits in 3.2 innings of work.


“It was pretty apparent to me that Minnesota was running pretty low on their pitchers, and that’s where we had the advantage that we had by staying undefeated through two games,” Mainieri said.


The Minnesota offense couldn’t muster much of a result after a 16-hit parade in a 15-12 win against Baylor earlier in the day. The Gophers finished with only three runs on seven hits against the Tigers.


They did threaten in the bottom of the fifth inning after putting runners on the corners with one out. But Coleman got Kyle Geason to strike out looking, and LSU shortstop Austin Nola charged a slow roller from and threw in time to first.


 “We looked at [Coleman’s] stats before the game and he had pitched like a million innings with only 11 walks,” McCallum said. “That was extremely impressive.”


Dean plated another run for LSU in the sixth inning after Mitchell knocked a base hit and stole his 33rd base of the season. Gibbs then ripped a RBI double off the wall in left-center field for a 9-0 advantage.


A controversial call got Minnesota pitcher Tyler Oakes ejected in the bottom of the sixth inning.


After McCallum singled to open the inning, Minnesota right fielder Michael Kvasnicka ripped a hit to right field. Mitchell appeared to have caught the ball after diving for it, but replays on a screen in the press box showed Mitchell didn’t make the catch – he simply picked the ball up with his bare hand while rolling on the ground.


Umpires ruled in favor of Mitchell, which led to Oakes’ ejection.


Oakes’ father, Minnesota pitching coach Todd Oakes, was also ejected in the top of the eighth inning after getting into an argument with an umpire.


“They said that Tyler gestured at one of the umpires after the umpire had given the bench a warning. I did not see him gesture nor did I hear the umpire warn the bench,” Gophers coach John Anderson said. “It was a great and emotional moment. The difficult part for what happened out there was that Tyler is the pitching coach’s son and is a senior, making this his last game.”


Kyle Knudson broke the Gophers’ scoreless streak in the bottom of the seventh with a solo home run to left-center field, his fourth of the season.


But Schimpf responded with a solo shot of his own to right field, his 18th on the season.


Minnesota first baseman Nick O’Shea hit his 11th home run of the season in the bottom of the ninth, a three-run shot just past the left-field foul pole, for the final scoring of the game.


Minnesota’s season is done after a second-place finish in the Big Ten and a runner-up spot in the Big Ten tournament.


“I take my hat off to these players. They have busted their tails since we have been together since the fall,” Anderson said. “I will always remember them for their effort this year.”


Baton Rouge Regional All-Tournament Team

Pitchers: Anthony Ranaudo, LSU*; Louis Coleman, LSU

Catcher: Micah Gibbs, LSU

First Base: Sean Ochinko, LSU

Second Base: Derek McCallum, Minnesota*

Shortstop: Austin Nola, LSU

Third Base: Kyle Geason, Minnesota

Outfielders: Jared Mitchell, LSU; Ben Booker, Baylor; Justin Gominsky, Minnesota

DH: Matt Nohelty, Minnesota

Most Outstanding Player: Anthony Ranaudo, P, LSU*

*Unanimous selection


(photo courtesy of LSU Media Relations Office)