Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Enter the title...Geaux Tigers - LSU Baseball wins in bottom of

By Nicole
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Yesterday's LSU CWS game seemed like it was over from almost the beginning. The Rice Owls took the lead early and continued to tack on runs throughout the game. Going into the bottom of the ninth, the Tigers were down 5-2.

Of course, ESPN's ticker had already told me the final score and knowing that, I was fast forwarding my DVR of the game - guess where the recording ended? We just returned from commercial break and poof, my recording was over. So I stayed up late to watch the replay on ESPNU and boy was it worth it.

LSU notched it's 30th come-from-behind win of the season. The game was also their third win in the final frame while in Omaha.

But best of all, the Tigers ended a five-game losing streak at the College World Series. Their last win was the one that won it all in 2000. They'd been blanked at every one of their appearances since then.

The ninth inning started with an out - then a single, a hit batsman (a pinch hitter) and another single loaded the bases. The next batter reached on an error when a Rice infielder misplayed a ball and instead of a possible game-ending double-play, LSU scored a run and had the bases loaded again.

DH Blake Dean came to the plate and sliced one into left field that smacked the wall and bounced back into the infield. The baserunners were all on the move and Jared Mitchell at first base used his quickness to almost lap the pinch runner who was on second. Mitchell was so speedy that all three baserunners were on the third base base-path at one time.

LSU will play North Carolina tomorrow night. Loser goes home.

Come-from-behind wins and beating the odds has been the name of the game for LSU this season, as this article points out:

Mainieri's club had the second-worst league record in the SEC, and time was definitely not on its side.

"Coach came in one day and sat us down in the locker room. We were kind of in a slump -- 6-11, I think -- and he just told us, 'I just want you guys to know that I believe in you. It's not over, let's go out there and go game by game.'" Dean recalled. "He kind of just spilled the beans to us what he thought and felt, kind of personal.

"That showed us how much he cared about us, and that just flipped the switch and it all went from there."

As sophomore catcher Sean Ochinko noted, where the Tigers are today defies logic.

LSU was held to just two hits and trailed Rice 5-0 entering the seventh inning. The sleepwalking Tigers, still down 5-2 with no one on base and one out in the ninth, watched Dean cap a four-run uprising with his three-run double off the left-field wall.

Instead of suffering their sixth straight loss in the Series and packing for Baton Rouge, La., the Tigers had their bead-wearing fans reliving the greatest tales from this season and beyond.

...

"We stay real positive because we always know we're going to get some sort of a push in the late innings," said Ochinko, who, in a pinch-hit appearance, got hit by a St. Clair delivery to give the Tigers runners at first and second. "I don't know whether it's magic or we bear down more, everyone starts believing in each other, but things happen."

But for all the genuineness behind Mainieri's April speech, which lit the fuse to a 23-game winning streak, LSU still found itself, on June 8, three outs from closing 70-year-old Alex Box Stadium as an NCAA super regional series sweep victim of UC Irvine.

Behind 7-4 entering the ninth inning of Game 2, the Tigers proceeded to put up a five-spot to stay alive, then blew out the Anteaters 21-7 the next day.

Before that contest, they heard a gripping tale from Warren Morris, who, with two outs in the ninth inning of the 1996 CWS championship game against Miami, provided the most dramatic moment in LSU baseball history by hitting a game-winning, two-run homer.

Four years later, the Tigers claimed another title with a ninth-inning rally against Stanford.

...

Excuse the Tigers, who had nobody taken higher than the ninth round of the major league draft, for being in the same frame of mind.

This one left them a mind-boggling 26-2 in their past 28 games. It marked only the second time in 43 games that Rice had lost when taking a lead into the ninth, and the first time the Owls had come up short in right-handed senior pitcher Chris Kelley's 12 starts.

Oh, then there's this little nugget: It was the Tigers' 30th come-from-behind win of the year -- 19 of which have occurred in the past 26 contests.



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