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COLLEGE BASEBALL

LSU rallies in ninth to defeat UC Irvine, 9-7

June 09, 2008|From the Associated Press

Louisiana State staged a huge ninth-inning rally to beat UC Irvine, 9-7, Sunday and avoid elimination in Game 2 of their best-of-three NCAA Division I super regional at Baton Rouge, La.

Trailing, 7-4, the Tigers loaded the bases with none out when Jared Mitchell, who homered in the eighth, walked to force in a run.

Pinch-hitter Nicholas Pontiff drove in a run on a fielder's choice, Blake Dean hit a run-scoring single to tie the score and Sean Ochinko followed with a chopper over the third baseman's head to drive in the go-ahead run. DJ LeMahieu's sacrifice fly capped the rally.

UC Irvine Coach Mike Gillespie said opponents are always aware of LSU's offense. Even with a five-run lead going into the eight inning, he wasn't comfortable.

"I thought we were in good shape," Gillespie said. "I was smart enough to think that way, but we certainly had not begun to count any chickens."

LSU (47-17-1) entered the super regional with a 23-game winning streak, the longest in the nation and a Southeastern Conference record. But the Tigers had trouble getting a read on UC Irvine's pitching.

After scoring 36 runs while hitting nine home runs during its three regional games, LSU only had nine hits during Saturday's 11-5 loss to the Anteaters and struggled Sunday against UC Irvine starter Daniel Bibona.

Bibona scattered nine hits over 7 1/3 innings, struck out eight and walked one. The Anteaters were leading, 7-2, when he left the game.

Closer Eric Pettis (4-3) entered in the eighth and yielded five runs and five hits in one inning to take the loss.

"He was a little out in front and leaving some pitches up and LSU punished the mistakes he made," Anteaters catcher Aaron Lowenstein said of Pettis. "He fell behind in counts and they really took advantage of that."

Louis Coleman (7-0) yielded one hit over the final three innings for the Tigers.

Trailing, 2-1, in the bottom of the fourth, UC Irvine (42-17) jumped LSU starter Jared Bradford for six runs after designated hitter Brock Bardeen homered to left. By the time the Tigers turned a double play to end the inning, the Anteaters led, 7-2.

The Tigers even looked bad when they got runners on base. They had two picked off, one thrown out trying to steal third and one put out at home.

The winner of today's deciding game advances to the College World Series in Omaha.

UC Irvine is trying to get there for the second consecutive season. LSU was last in the College World Series in 2004.

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Miami 4, Arizona 2 -- The Hurricanes (52-9) won the series at Coral Gables, Fla., 2-1, to advance to their 23rd College World Series.

Arizona (42-19), which won the series opener on Friday, stranded seven runners in scoring position.

The Wildcats loaded the bases with two out in the bottom of the eighth but Carlos Gutierrez sprinted off the mound, fielded Rafael Valenzuela's chopper down the third base line and threw him out

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Florida State 11, Wichita State 4 -- Jack Rye's three-run homer capped a six-run first inning at Tallahassee, Fla., and the Seminoles (54-12) won the series, 2-1, to advance to the College World Series for the first time since 2000.

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North Carolina 14, Coastal Carolina 4 -- The Tar Heels (51-12), who scored six runs in the second inning and led 12-0 after six, won the series, 2-0, and advanced to the College World Series for the third year in a row.

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Georgia 17, North Carolina State 8 -- The Bulldogs (41-23-1) scored nine times in the first inning at Athens, Ga., and earned their third College World Series berth in five years by winning the series, 2-1. Gordon Beckham, the eighth overall pick in last week's draft by the Chicago White Sox, hit two home runs for Georgia.

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Rice 6, Texas A&M 5 -- Adam Zornes hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning at Houston and the Owls (47-13) completed a two-game sweep to advance to their third consecutive College World Series.

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