June 4, 2010
click here for
Friday scores and recaps
click here for Regional Capsules
Watkins, LSU Win Wild
One Over UC Irvine
By Ryan Eshoff
Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com
Ryan Eshoff is a rising junior at UCLA, a native
of San Jose, and has seen more of California than is
recommended. He has been on the sports staff of the Daily Bruin
newspaper his entire UCLA career, spending the last year as an
assistant sports editor and preparing to become a senior writer.
He has covered the entire breadth of Bruin sports and considers
himself, for better or worse, the world's foremost expert on
UCLA water polo. In his less than copious amounts of free time,
Ryan fights the East Coast bias and roots rabidly for the San
Jose Sharks, the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Dodgers
while wishing there was an NBA franchise in the Bay Area.
LOS ANGELES - Trey
Watkins hasn’t had much of an impact recently.
The sophomore from LSU dislocated his elbow
earlier in the year and was only able to return to a
contributing role in the past two weeks.
But the 5-8 Tiger made his presence felt in a big
way Friday, delivering a walkoff, two-run double in the bottom
of the 11th inning to give second-seeded LSU a wild 11-10 win
over third-seeded UC Irvine in the first game of the Los Angeles
Watkins, who entered the game as a pinch-runner
in the 10th, came up in the 11th after LSU loaded the bases with
two outs. He drove a pitch from the Anteaters' Eric Pettis just
over the outstretched glove of right fielder Sean Madigan at the
"I think I willed the ball over his glove,"
Watkins said. "I got excited rounding the bag at first and
The hit capped a roller-coaster game that saw UC
Irvine rally from a 7-3 deficit to grab a 9-8 lead in the ninth.
LSU scored to send the game into extra innings, and it was the
Anteaters who got on the board first in the top of the 11th when
catcher Francis Larson dropped down a suicide squeeze. Pettis,
who also had blown the lead in the ninth for Irvine, got the
first two Tigers in the 11th before the rally started.
"I think that's the sign of a championship team,
you score a lot of runs with two outs," LSU coach Paul Mainieri
said. "I thought we were in pretty good shape there [early in
the game], but we just couldn't hold them off."
Despite being known more as a small-ball team –
its team leader has just eight home runs – UC Irvine was able to
stay in the game via the long ball. Larson hit two, and
left-fielder Ryan Fisher added one of his own.
The Anteaters appeared to grab all the momentum
after scoring two runs in each of the last three innings to grab
a one-run lead. But an ill-fated dive by Madigan on a bloop
single by LSU's Austin Nola allowed the Tigers to score the
tying run in the ninth.
"This was a difficult loss," UCI coach Mike
Gillespie said. "A lot for us to be frustrated about."
With ace Daniel Bibona returning from injury to
pitch for the Anteaters, and the Tigers starting tough
right-hander Austin Ross, the game had all the makings of a
pitchers’ duel in the early going – that is, until Larson hit
his first home run in the second, only to see LSU score seven
over the next three innings to chase Bibona.
It was the first start for the Anteaters’ lefty
since coming back from a rib injury, and he had uncharacteristic
"I'm not sure he's had many games like that in
his career," Mainieri said.
LSU will play the winner of Friday night's
match-up between top-seeded UCLA and fourth-seeded Kent State.
For a while though, both in the ninth and in the eleventh, it
appeared that UC Irvine could complete the slight upset. Then
the Tigers did their thing with two outs, getting three runners
before Watkins came up to deliver the killing stroke.
"When he came up, I turned to my son Nick and
said 'I know that Trey's going to hit a ball hard here,'"
Mainieri said. "I just can feel it."