Saturday, May 31, 2008

Dean Homers Twice to Stiffle TSU

LSU sophomore designated hitter Blake Dean homered twice and drove in four runs to lead the top-seeded Tigers to their 21st straight win with a 12-1 victory over Texas Southern in the opening game of the 2008 NCAA Baton Rouge Regional in front of 6,536 fans on Friday afternoon at Alex Box Stadium. The Tigers, champions of the Southeastern Conference Tournament, improved to 44-16-1 on the year and 19-0 in NCAA regional opening games. LSU set the single-season school record for consecutive victories in its last outing and has not lost a contest since April 19. Texas Southern dropped to 16-33 on the season. LSU advances to play at 6 p.m. Saturday against Southern Miss, a 13-6 winner of Friday evening's contest versus UNO. Texas Southern takes on New Orleans at 1 p.m. Saturday. “It wasn't our best game of the year, but I thought it was like a business man's job,” LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said. “We did what we had to do. I have to say the highlight of the day was looking at the crowd and seeing all the gold in the stands. I just have to say how much I appreciate the support the fans give this team. I just think it's awesome that they came in and helped us by wearing the gold, being vocal and packing the place. It was exciting to be out there today. “Now, we have to be able to be able to play a really good ball club tomorrow night. I'm not sure which one it will be at this point, but it will be a challenge for us. We will have to be at the top of our game for sure." Dean, who entered the game batting .420 (34-for-81) during the streak, finished the game 2-for-4 and has accounted for five homers in his last five games. Sophomore centerfielder Jared Mitchell went 3-for-5 with three RBI and two runs scored. Junior first baseman Matt Clark added three hits and homered for the third consecutive game.
LSU junior right-hander Jordan Brown (4-0) maintained his perfect record, allowing only one run – a solo homer in the sixth -- on five hits in five innings while striking out four and walking two. He picked up his first win since March 19 versus Tulane.
Twenty-eight of LSU’s 44 wins have been from come-behind fashion, but the Tigers needed no late inning heroics on Friday. Despite the absence of gold jerseys for the first time in 15 games, LSU plated four runs in the first inning to rattle TSU left-handed starter Ehern Moreno.
Senior shortstop Michael Hollander drew a leadoff walk, and two batters later, junior right fielder Derek Helenihi provided a one-out single to left field. Dean then lifted a three-run homer – the first of his two blasts – that carried over the right-centerfield wall. Clark connected for a solo shot just over the left field wall for his team-leading 23rd homer of the year. “I thought the kids had good focus,” Mainieri said. “They came out and played the game the right way. We had a good first inning obviously with Blake [Dean's] three-run homer and [Matt] Clark's homerun.”
LSU increased the advantage to 6-0 in the fourth frame. Freshman shortstop DJ LaMahieu beat out an infield single deep in the hole, and he later scored on sophomore second baseman Ryan Schimpf’s single to right field. Hollander then accounted for a run-scoring hit with a slapped single through the left side.
Meanwhile, Brown faced little trouble through the first three innings as he faced the minimum in the second and pitched around a leadoff single in the third. The junior silenced a one-out, two-on threat in the fourth and finally surrendered a run in the sixth when TSU first baseman Earnest Rhone launched a leadoff, line-drive homer to left field.
Texas Southern put together its most prominent threat of the game when catcher Justin Holloway immediately tagged a single to centerfield, and shortstop Jordan Bush was hit by a pitch that ended Brown’s outing.
With runners at first and second and no outs, Mainieri summoned freshman Austin Ross from the bullpen for his first outing since May 17 at Auburn. Ross induced a 1-6-3 double play groundball and retired the side with another groundout. The Tigers put the game away in the sixth with four runs, two of which were unearned after a critical dropped fly ball by centerfielder Deshaun Dilworth. Mitchell capitalized on the error with a two-run single to right field that scored Schimpf and Hollander. Mitchell was later awarded home on a wild throw by shortstop Jordan Bush on a grounder by Helenihi. Pinch hitter Sean Ochinko accounted for the other run on a single through the middle.
Moreno (2-5) was charged with loss, surrendering 11 runs – seven earned – on 12 hits in 5.2 innings of work. He walked two and struck out five.
Ross notched his third save with four scoreless innings of relief, allowing only three hits while striking out three and walking none.

No comments: