Sunday, June 8, 2008

UC Irvine Takes Game 1 of NCAA Super Regional, 11-5

The UC Irvine Anteaters took advantage of five walks to build a lead while starter Scott Gorgen (12-3) limited LSU to one earned run in 6.2 innings, as the Tigers lost for the first time since April 19, 11-5, in game 1 of the NCAA Super Regional.
LSU (46-17-1), which entered the game with a Southeastern Conference-record 23-game winning streak, will look to survive in the best-of-three series on Sunday at 3 p.m. CT on ESPN. Should LSU win on Sunday, the rubber match would be played at 6 p.m. Monday on ESPN2.
Sunday's game will also be aired live on the LSU Sports Radio Network beginning with the pregame show at 2:45 p.m. on Eagle 98.1 FM in the Baton Rouge area and in the Geaux Zone on
Senior right-hander Jared Bradford will start Sunday’s game on the mound for LSU, while UC Irvine will counter with left-hander Daniel Bibona.
UC Irvine (42-16) moved within a game of the College World Series by pounding 13 hits and scoring its first five runs off LSU walks.
“I’m disappointed because I don’t think we played very well at all tonight in any aspects of the game,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “We got off to a bad start by walking the first two batters of the game. Like Irvine does, they execute. If you make mistakes they are going to take advantage of it. They bunted them over and got a base hit and we are down 2-0 right away. There was a point in the game where we had given up six runs and five of them were walks. That’s not typical of our pitching staff, walking so many batters. That hurt us, obviously.
“Their pitcher (Gorgen) was really good. I admire the kid a lot. He is a real competitor who competed really hard. He got a little bit of a break because the sun never came out today. It has been scorching all week, and when the game began the clouds moved in and cooled it off a little bit for him and helped him with his endurance. The kid competed really hard and got our number today. “
Gorgen, the Big West Conference Pitcher of the Year, was spectacular in 6 2/3 innings. He allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits with eight strikeouts.
Meanwhile, the Anteaters hit four doubles and two home runs in the victory. First baseman Jeff Cusick led the way with a 3-for-4 performance with two RBI. Rightfielder Sean Madigan hit a three-run home run to give UC Irvine a 6-1 lead in the sixth.
LSU starter Ryan Verdugo (9-3) left the game after five innings trailing 3-1 and was tagged with the loss. He gave up three runs on five hits with three strikeouts and three walks.
Shortstop DJ LeMahieu and rightfielder Leon Landry each drove in two runs for the Tigers.
Walks hurt the Tigers, starting with the first two batters of the game. Verdugo's rough start brought Mainieri out of the dugout before the first out was recorded on a sacrifice bunt that moved the runs to second and third. A two-RBI single up the middle by Tony Asaro gave the Anteaters a 2-0 lead.
LSU cut the lead in half with an unearned run in the bottom of the second inning when first baseman Matt Clark hit a one-out ground-rule double down the right field line. Shortstop DJ LeMahieu reached on a fielding error. Clark then scored on a sacrifice fly to center field by Leon Landry.
In the fifth, a leadoff walk by Verdugo again came around to score -- this time to the No. 9 hitter in the Anteaters order. Catcher Aaron Lowenstein then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and to third on a wild pitch. Lowenstein then scored on a bloop single over the out-stretched glove of Clark at first base.
UC Irvine's 3-1 looked to be 5-1 when Landry tracked a home run by Asaro at the 405-foot sign in center field -- and brought it back. The ball cleared the 10-foot fence when Landry snagged it and fell to the ground. The home crowd erupted when he came up the ball and tossed it back toward the infield.
Paul Bertuccini entered in relief of Verdugo to start the sixth inning, but suffered the same fate with walks to Larson and Stevenson start the inning. Two batters later, Sean Madigan hit his second home run of the season to put UC Irvine up 6-1.
Bertuccini was relieved by Daniel Bradshaw, who gave up a double to Lowenstein before recording the final out of the inning.
After trailing in 17 of 23 games during its winning streak, the Tigers were no strangers to comebacks. And, when Gorgen walked three-straight batters with two outs in the sixth, another comeback looked to be in the works. Lanrdy singled off of Gorgen's glove to score catcher Micah Gibbs from third.
With the bases still loaded, UC Irvine tried to catch the Tigers napping with a hidden ball trick. Stevenson charged from his second-base position toward LeMahieu who had returned to the bag. However, the second base umpire called LeMahieu out to end the inning.
As the Anteaters ran off the field, the Tigers players, coaches and most of the 7,460 fans in attendance were incensed. First-base coach Javi Sanchez was ejected for arguing the call.
With the crowd still buzzing -- and an extended delay between innings -- Bradshaw gave up a double to Cusick to start the inning. He advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a single by pinch hitter Dillon Bell. With two outs, Eric Deragisch's single to left was misplayed by Jared Mitchell, allowing Bell to score from first for an 8-2 lead.
Three more Anteaters runs in the top of the eighth inning were matched by three in the bottom of the frame by LSU. LeMahieu hit a two-run home run and Ryan Schimpf hit an RBI triple before being thrown out at home after an errant throw back to the infield.
“I’m really proud of the fact that we have the longest winning streak in SEC baseball history,” Mainieri said. “It wasn’t going to last forever because in this sport it doesn’t. By the same token, we hadn’t paid much attention to it. There are bigger goals in mind, so hopefully we can start a new streak tomorrow. We just have to try to win one in a row tomorrow.”

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