Friday, June 13, 2008

Brittany Reese Wins NCAA Long Jump Honors

Ole Miss junior jumper Brittney Reese capped her sensational season in style as she was crowned the NCAA Champion in the long jump for the second time in her career as she leaped a distance of 22-09.00 to equal the world’s longest jump this season she set earlier in the year at the LSU Alumni Gold.

Reese, the nation’s top-ranked long jumper, remained true to form as she dominated her competition by jumping 11 inches further than the second place finisher. Her victory marks her second career national title as she also claimed the honor during the indoor season with a mark of 22-02.25. She stands as the only female in school history to win an individual national championship.

“I thought this was Brittney’s best performance ever,” head coach Joe Walker said. “I thought she had excellent speed down the runway and hit her last few steps better than ever. There was tremendous competition here today and I couldn’t be more proud of her. The fact that she was able to win by almost a foot is very impressive.”

Following Reese’s jump, the Lady Rebels sit in second place in the overall standings with a total of 10 points, trailing only Stanford’s 11.

Also on the women’s side, senior Kasey McDaniel advanced in the 100 meter hurdles as she posted a time of 13.35 in the preliminaries en route to an 11th place finish. McDaniel will look to qualify for the finals of the event Friday at 7:55 p.m. when she takes part in the semifinals.

The Lady Rebel 4x400 relay team of Sirdonea Davis, Kenyata Coleman, Britney Barnard and LaJada Baldwin turned in a ninth place finish with a time of 3:33.66.

Freshman Lee Ellis Moore posted a top-10 finish in the 400 meter hurdles despite not advancing into the finals. Moore raced to a 10th place finish in the event as he posted a time of 50.57 in the semifinals.

Ole Miss returns to action Friday at 4:45 p.m. when senior Carmia Carroll looks to earn an NCAA Championship in the high jump.

110 Meter Hurdles Prelims
John Yarbrough - FS

400 Meter Hurdles Prelims
11. Lee Ellis Moore – 50.55Q

400 Meter Hurdles Semifinals
10. Lee Ellis Moore – 50.57

3000 Meter Steeplechase
9. Barnabas Kirui – 8:49.63Q

400 Meter Prelims
1. Kenyata Coleman – 51.78Qsr
9. LaJada Baldwin – 53.38Q

100 Meter Hurdles Prelims
11. Kasey McDaniel – 13.35Q

4x100 Meter Relay Prelims
11. Ole Miss ‘A’ – 44.66

4x400 Meter Relay Prelims
9. Ole Miss ‘A’ – 3:33.66

Long Jump Prelims
7. Brittney Reese – 21-07.25Q

Long Jump Finals
1. Brittney Reese – 22-09.00sr

High Jump Prelims
1. Carmia Carroll – 5-09.75Q

Seven More Tigers Advance

The LSU track and field teams took another big step in their quest to be crowned this year’s national champion on Thursday by adding seven more qualifiers into NCAA finals on the second day of the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
The teams have now combined for an impressive total of 15 event finalists over the course of two days of competition at Jim Duncan Track at Drake Stadium.
The Tigers and Lady Tigers will have their first opportunity to score points at the NCAA meet on Friday as a total of nine finalists will line up with the chance to put LSU on the scoreboard.
“I think the farther you get into the meet, the muddier it seems to get,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “We’ve advanced about everybody that I thought we would advance into finals at this track meet except maybe the men’s 4x400 relay. We’ve even added a few extra qualifiers that maybe I wasn’t so sure about. That just illustrates the way the teams have competed to this point.
“What makes this meet so hard to predict right now is that the other contenders are qualifying all their people into the finals just like we are. It’s still anybody’s ballgame at this point, and I’m not sure it’s going to be settled until the 4x400 relays are run on the last day of the track meet.”
Junior Nickiesha Wilson was LSU’s only athlete to advance into a final that will be contested on Friday as she clocked the fastest time in the semifinal of the 400-meter hurdles at 55.89 seconds. She will look to dethrone returning champion Nicole Leach of UCLA (55.98) for this year’s title.
In addition to her outstanding performance in the 400 hurdles, Wilson qualified for the semifinal round of the 100 hurdles to be held Friday with the second-fastest time of the day at 12.95.
“Nickiesha has just been a workhorse for us all year long, and she’s proving once again why she is one of the elite dual hurdlers in the country,” Shaver said. “I’m very pleased with the way she’s running the rounds and getting through the races. She still looks a bit rusty while running the 400 hurdles, but that’s to be expected with so few races under her belt this year. I’m confident that she will pull it all together in what is sure to be an epic race tomorrow night.”
After qualifying for the final in the 100-meter dash on Wednesday, senior Kelly Baptiste and sophomore Samantha Henry advanced to the final of the 200-meter dash by finishing second in their respective semifinal heats on Thursday evening.
Henry qualified for the 200-meter final at the NCAA Outdoor Championships for the second year in a row with the fourth-fastest semifinal time of the day at 23.04, while Baptiste followed with the sixth-fastest qualifying time of the semifinal round at 23.20.
“It was important for both of us to get through in the 200 today because it was a very competitive field. I’m just relieved that both of us made it through,” Henry said. “I’m also glad that I was able to make it through in both the 100 and the 200 because I don’t know if I was predicted to do that. It’s a great feeling to be in a position to score points for my team.”
The Lady Tigers added two more finalists on the day as sophomore LaTavia Thomas advanced to the finals of the 800 meters with the fourth-fastest time of the day at 2 minutes, 4.17 seconds.
In addition, Thomas also ran the third leg on the women’s 4x400-meter relay team that carried the stick around the track with the second-fastest preliminary time of the day at 3:31.21. She teamed with seniors Brooklynn Morris, Juanita Broaddus and Deonna Lawrence to qualify for Saturday’s final, which will be the final event on the track at this year’s meet.
While the women put themselves in a position to score big points on the weekend, the men did the same on Thursday as senior Richard Thompson qualified for the final round of the 200-meter dash and senior Elkana Kosgei advanced to the final of the 800-meter run.
Thompson crossed the finish line with the fourth-fastest 200-meter time of the day at 20.62, while Kosgei was the seventh-fastest qualifier into the 800 final at 1:47.88. Thompson is also scheduled to run in the final of the 100 meters on Friday.
The final rounds of the 200 meters, 800 meters and 4x400-meter relay will be held on meet’s final day as the Tigers and Lady Tigers hope to score big points in each event on Saturday.
“I just thank God that I made it through these two days injury free,” Thompson said. “I feel very good and am ready to go again tomorrow. My plan coming in was just to run smart through all of my rounds and finish in the top two (of the 200) so I could get a lane in the middle of the track in the final. I’ve prepared myself mentally for this coming in because I knew the schedule and that I would be running a lot of races this week. I’m ready to go again tomorrow.”
In addition to the seven finalists that LSU added during Thursday’s competition, the squads also qualified four athletes into Friday’s semifinal round of the sprint hurdles as Jessica Ohanaja (13.04) and Angel Boyd (13.40) will join Wilson in the semifinal of the 100-meter hurdles, while Ryan Fontenot (13.64) earned a spot in the semifinal of the men’s 110-meter hurdles.
The Tigers and Lady Tigers will have their first opportunities to score points at this year’s NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships during Friday’s competition as the action kicks off for LSU at 1 p.m. with sophomore Preston Chatham in the final of the men’s javelin. Live results for the final two days of the NCAA meet can be found online at
2008 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships ResultsThursday at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa (All race distances in meters)
10,0001. Shadrack Songok, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 28:46.69; 2. Shawn Forrest, Arkansas, 28:47.08; 3. Tyson David, Alabama, 28:49.76; 4. Jacob Korir, Eastern Kentucky, 28:49.92; 5. Seth Pilkington, Weber State, 28:51.81; 6. Sean Quigley, La Salle, 29:03.27; 7. Jeremy Johnson, New Mexico, 29:06.13; 8. Japheth Ng’ojoy, UTEP, 29:07.08.
Long Jump1. Ngonidzashe Makusha, Florida State, 27-2 ¾; 2. Matt Turner, Arizona State, 26-3 ½; 3. Julian Reid, Texas A&M, 25-11; 4. Elvie Williams, Idaho, 25-7 ½; 5. Gary Lee, Fresno State, 25-7 ½; 6. Norris Frederick, Washington, 25-6 ¾; 7. Cadeau Kelley, Akron, 25-5 ¼; 8. Kiwan Lawson, Indiana, 25-4 ¾.
Decathlon1. Ashton Eaton, Oregon, 8,055; 2. Jangy Addy, Tennessee, 7,916; 3. Gonzalo Barriolhet, Florida State, 7,907; 4. Nick Adcock, Missouri, 7,612; 5. Chris Richardson, Long Beach State, 7,594; 6. Raven Cepeda, Northern Iowa, 7,581; 7. Lars Rise, Missouri, 7,534; 8. Rickey Moody, Washington State, 7,477.
TEAM STANDINGS (3 events scored)1. Florida State, 16; t2. Oregon, 10; t2. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 10; t4. Arkansas, 8; t4. Tennessee, 8; t4. Arizona State, 8; 7. Missouri, 7; t8. Texas A&M, 6; t8. Alabama, 6; t10. Idaho, 5; t10. Eastern Kentucky, 5.
10,0001. Lisa Koll, Iowa State, 32:44.95; 2. Danette Doetzel, Providence, 33:44.23; 3. Alexandra Gits, Stanford, 33:49.73; 4. Marisa Ryan, Boston, 33:54.38; 5. Katrina Rundhaug, Wisconsin, 34:00.62; 6. Meghan Armstrong, Iowa, 34:01.87; 7. Morgan Haws, Weber State, 34:05.56; 8. Racheal Marchand, Iowa, 34:05.87.
Long Jump1. Brittney Reese, Ole Miss, 22-9; 2. Natasha Harvey, Jacksonville, 21-10; 3. Blessing Okagbare, UTEP, 21-7 ½; 4. Erica McClain, Stanford, 21-6 ¼; 5. Gayle Hunter, Penn State, 21-4 ¾; 6. Janay DeLoach, Colorado State, 21-3 ¼; 7. Bianca Stuart, Southern Illinois, 21-2 ¾; 8. Shara Proctor, Florida, 20-10 ½.
TEAM STANDINGS (2 events scored)1. Stanford, 11; t2. Ole Miss, 10; t2. Iowa State, 10; t4. Providence, 8; t4. Jacksonville, 8; 6. UTEP, 6; 7. Boston, 5; t8. Wisconsin, 4; t8. Iowa, 4; t8. Penn State, 4.

Lowell Grand Slam Leads Red Sox OverOrioles

The grand slam belonged to Mike Lowell, the drought-busting home run to Kevin Youkilis, the shutdown pitching to Jon Lester, the victory to the Red Sox.
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But this homestand, which the Sox ended last night with a 9-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles before the usual packed house at the Fens (38,139), was one man's wildly entertaining playground: J.D. Drew, who put his stamp on nearly every game here with his bat or glove.
Drew's double off Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie in the fifth, which was followed by an intentional walk to Manny Ramírez, preceded Lowell's slam. His eighth-inning, two-run home run off reliever Jamie Walker, his first off a lefthander this season, was his parting shot to this 7-2 homestand, as the Sox head out for six interleague games, three apiece in Cincinnati and Philadelphia.
"Ultimately, if we want to get to where we want to go, we're going to have to play better on the road," said manager Terry Francona, mindful of the chasm between the Sox' record here (28-7) and their ledger abroad (14-20), "but it sure has been fun being home."
For no one more than Drew, who has hit safely in his last 11 games - a period that dovetails with David Ortiz being sidelined with an injured left wrist - batting .500 (18 for 36), with 6 home runs, 5 doubles, 1 triple, 15 runs, and 15 RBIs. He has raised his average to a team-high .324, and his 10 home runs are just one fewer than he hit in 2007, his first season with the Sox.
"It's been like David and then some, because there's a little speed there that David doesn't have," said Lowell, whose first slam this season also came after a free pass to Ramírez, a strategy he would never question. ("If I hit a ground ball, it's a double play," Lowell said.)
"It's really been huge. It makes us feel like we haven't missed a beat. I don't mean to downplay what David brings to this team, but J.D. has done as well as anyone could in this stretch. Impressive. He's gotten big hits, big home runs, and played a very good right field."
The way Drew is going, the last thing the Sox would want is a disruption of his routine. When he shattered a bat in Wednesday's win, a press box wag was reminded of Roy Hobbs breaking his "Wonderboy" in "The Natural." Drew last night laughed at the comparison, reminded his visitor that it was the man, not the bat, and insisted he is not a prisoner of habit like certain people.
"I don't try to remember what I did yesterday and try to do it today," he said. "I don't go into that detail. I don't think that's why you get into good rhythms.
"I think you have a routine you go through, but it doesn't fluctuate to the extent of [Nomar] Garciaparra, where you make sure you're running up the steps the exact same way you did before."
Drew and Garciaparra played a season together with the Dodgers.
"I would kind of laugh and let him do his business," Drew said.
The first three games after Ortiz was hurt, Francona left Drew down in the order. The last eight games, he installed Drew in Ortiz's No. 3 spot, and Drew has made the move look brilliant.
"I've had runs like this in my career where you're feeling good and things are in place," Drew said. "You try to get your hits for the night, go home, get some rest, and do the same thing over and over again."
Ramírez was no slouch on this homestand, either, although his 15-game hitting streak ended last night, when he went hitless in three at-bats and walked twice.
Drew and Ramírez have combined to hit .444 this month (32 for 72), with 11 home runs and 28 RBIs. The rest of the team is batting .246 (69 for 281) with six home runs and 34 RBIs. But Lowell has homered each of the last two nights - the slam came on a first-pitch slider and carried into the first row of the Monster seats - while Youkilis hit his first home run since May 18 against the Brewers, 20 games ago, and has reached base in seven of his last eight plate appearances.
"That's baseball," Youkilis said. "You go through ruts. If I could hit .350, I wish I could. I was going through a rut. Now I'm getting out of it."
Lester, meanwhile, shut out the Orioles on three hits before being touched for a couple of runs in the sixth. Lester (5-3) has allowed three runs or fewer in each of his last nine starts (4-1, 2.34 ERA) and last night walked just one, the seventh time in eight starts he has issued two or fewer passes.
Lester, like the team, has been better at home (4-1, 2.55 in eight Fenway starts) than on the road (1-2, 4.71 in seven starts).
"I don't know if it's bad luck or what," Lester said. "We've had a lot of travel, we've gone overseas, we've gone to the West Coast numerous times, so it's been tough.
"But I think we're good. We'll at least keep swinging the bats and pitching well, and hopefully, everything will fall into place."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

OLe MIss In NCAA Track & Field

The Ole Miss track and field team competed in six individual events and advanced in all six of them to highlight competition in the first day of the NCAA Championships from Drake Stadium.

On the women’s side, senior sprinter Kenyata Coleman set a new school record with her time of 51.78 en route to a first place finish in the 400 meter preliminaries to advance into the semifinals scheduled for Friday evening at 8:15 p.m. Freshman LaJada Baldwin also advanced in the 400 meters as she turned in a ninth place finish with a time of 53.38.

Senior jumper Carmia Carroll tied for first place in the high jump preliminaries with a height of 5-09.75 to qualify for the finals. Carroll will take part in the high jump finals Friday at 4:45 p.m.

Junior Brittney Reese needed just one jump to automatically qualify for the finals as she posted a seventh place finish in the long jump preliminaries with a mark of 21-07.25 to advance to the finals. The long jump finals are slated to begin Thursday afternoon at 5:00 p.m.

In addition to the individuals, the Lady Rebel 4x100 meter relay team of Kadeshia Fortune, Baldwin, Coleman and Reese captured 11th place in the event with a time of 44.66.

Both of the men’s competitors advanced in their respective events beginning with junior Barnabas Kirui in the 3000 meter steeplechase. Kirui placed ninth in the event with a time of 8:49.63 and will look for his second consecutive NCAA Championship in the event Friday at 7:40 p.m.

Freshman Lee Ellis Moore recorded an 11th place finish in the 400 meter hurdles with a personal best time of 50.55. In addition, his time marks the second fastest time in school history. Moore will compete in the semifinals of the event Thursday at 6:00 p.m.

Ole Miss returns to action Thursday at 4:30 p.m. when senior Kasey McDaniel competes first for the Lady Rebels in the 100 meter hurdles.

400 Meter Hurdles Prelims
11. Lee Ellis Moore – 50.55Q

3000 Meter Steeplechase
9. Barnabas Kirui – 8:49.63Q

400 Meter Prelims
1. Kenyata Coleman – 51.78Qsr
9. LaJada Baldwin – 53.38Q

4x100 Meter Relay Prelims
11. Ole Miss ‘A’ – 44.66

Long Jump Prelims
7. Brittney Reese – 21-07.25Q

High Jump Prelims
1. Carmia Carroll – 5-09.75Q

Colon Wins Again

Anyone could have had him, really. Pick up the phone, place a call, and a former Cy Young Award winner could have been yours.
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Fortunately for the Red Sox, they were the ones who got through to the Dominican Republic in spring training. Then again, they were the only ones who tried.
It was a chance they were willing to take, especially for short money, and Bartolo Colon has so far been more than they could have asked.
Last night he won his fourth game in five decisions, going six innings and allowing one run on five hits in a 6-3 triumph over the Orioles at Fenway Park. That's three fewer wins than he had in 2006 and 2007 combined, because of injuries.
"Right now he's got a lot of movement," Orioles catcher Ramon Hernandez told Baltimore reporters. "He's got a pretty good two-seamer going on. He's around 93, 94 [miles per hour], and if he wants to go higher, he's still got it. He's not easy to face. He pitches more; before, he was a power guy trying to blow everyone away. Now he's the guy that pitches around the plate and makes you swing early in the count. He has way more movement than he did before."
He also had plenty of support as the Sox eased the way for Colon with a five-run first inning before a crowd of 38,130.
"He's been tremendous for us," said manager Terry Francona. "It's been fun to watch. Get a guy that you didn't have when spring training started, and all of sudden, he's right in the middle of the rotation, helping us win games. It's been big."
Big too was the three-run homer by the ailing Jason Varitek, which gave the Sox a 5-0 lead.
But any germs the catcher might be bringing into the clubhouse seem to be forgiven. "I hope he feels like crap every night," Mike Lowell said, "if he's going to hit three-run home runs."
With the win, Colon stands at 150 for his career, one of only 12 active players to have hit that milestone. He also pitched his 2,000th inning last night.
Colon struck out seven, all but one coming on fastballs, as he tries to mix in his slider more.
"He's done a great job for us all year, really giving us a chance to put us in a position to win a lot of games," said Lowell, who hit a home run to lead off the sixth. "I think a lot of people kind of thought it was a high flier, but he's been very important to us all year.
"After his first outing, when he was throwing 92, 93, I think the biggest concern was velocity, not ability. Because the ability's there. I was kind of optimistic on that, just seeing if they could get his pitch count up. I don't believe you forget how to pitch, especially when you've been as successful as he has."
J.D. Drew's double that kicked off the right-field stands scored the first run. Jacoby Ellsbury, who had singled, stolen second, and gone to third on an error by pitcher Garrett Olson on the steal, came home on the play. Drew scored on a wild pitch.
After walks to Lowell and Kevin Youkilis, Varitek, who was hitting .160 over his last 14 games, smashed a 3-and-1 pitch over the wall in left, his first home run hitting righthanded this season.
"He didn't feel well," Francona said. "He stayed out there probably longer than he should have. He didn't say anything to me until his first at-bat."
Then Francona added, smiling, "[He] took some good swings." Or at least one good swing, which provided the margin in a game that ended up closer than it should have.
Mike Timlin entered for the ninth. With him came Kevin Cash, a rare late-game substitute for Varitek.
Timlin allowed consecutive doubles to Aubrey Huff and Kevin Millar to open the inning, bringing the Orioles within four runs and forcing Jonathan Papelbon to get up in the bullpen. Baltimore scored another run on a two-out error by second baseman Dustin Pedroia, followed by a pinch-hit single by Oscar Salazar.
That was enough for Francona. In came Papelbon, who got Brian Roberts to ground to first base.
But it was Colon, who had exchanged starts with Jon Lester while the lefthander served the final game of his suspension, who was the true survivor in this one. Nick Markakis, leading off the fourth inning, smashed a single off Colon's pitching hand. And even though Lowell saw Colon's hand start to swell, the pitcher remained in the game, giving up just a home run to Luke Scott to lead off the fifth.
"I'm not a rookie and I've been through this before," Colon said through first base coach/interpreter Luis Alicea. "But every start I [throw], I'm starting to feel a little bit better. I'm not the same guy I was before. I could throw harder, but now I'm a better pitcher because I feel like I can throw the ball where I want to throw it."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tigers pound Anteaters to win super regional

For college baseball players everywhere, the word "Omaha" rolls off the tongue like no other.
LSU’s proud army of baseball legacies knows that all too well.
Now the newest batch of Tigers can say “We’re goin’ to Omaha.”
They also know all about dog piles and victory laps around an old ball yard that has seen her share of celebrations.
With the memory of a stirring ninth-inning comeback the night before fresh in their minds and an emotionally charged start as the launching pad, the Tigers punched their ticket to Omaha and the College World Series in explosive and dominating style Monday night.
In the process of romping past shell-shocked Cal Irvine 21-7, LSU also composed the final chapter in the proud and nostalgic history of Alex Box Stadium.
“There was no way we were going to let you down (Monday),” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said in remarks to the crowd afterward. “No way!”
Never before had more people crammed into The Box than the 8,173 noisy souls who did for the decisive game of a super regional series that began with a major letdown and very nearly lowered the curtain on the proud old stadium and LSU’s season Sunday.
With a last-inning reprieve that fueled a 9-7 triumph Sunday, the Tigers lived to fight again and they — along with the buzzing, ready-to-erupt crowd — brought everything they had into the series finale.
LSU rattled seven Anteaters pitchers for season-highs of 24 hits and seven home runs and survived the electricity that came dangerously close to boiling over in the first inning.
All of that extensive damage kept the crowd interested, but the Tigers (48-17-1) might very well have sapped any doubt about the game’s outcome with a first inning that seemed to be an extension of the night before.
Sparked by three straight home runs, LSU notched six runs in the first inning and chased UC Irvine starter Bryce Stowell.
“Emotions were huge,” said Tigers catcher Micah Gibbs, who hit one of the long balls. “Getting the fans into it was huge. The more they got into and the more runs we scored, we felt like we were stepping on (UCI’s) throat.”
Taking a path that has sparked so many comebacks this season and especially during a late-season surge that is now 25 victories in 26 games, the Tigers got a little bit of something from a lot of people and big blows from others.
Senior Michael Hollander started the LSU first by walking on four pitches and scooted around to third when Jared Mitchell rammed a single to shallow right.
Stowell, the Anteaters’ hero in the regional championship game eight days earlier, spun and threw to first to try to catch Mitchell leaning and did. But first-base umpire Mark Ditsworth immediately called a balk on Stowell, allowing Hollander to trot home for a 1-0 Tigers lead.
If that didn’t completely rattle Stowell, the next three batters did as LSU got back-to-back-to-back home runs from Blake Dean, Gibbs and Matt Clark — the last boosting the Tigers lead to 5-0.
“You don’t see that very often and I think that sent the message right away that we meant business (Monday) and nothing was going to stand in our way,” Mainieri said.
Tempers nearly flared when Anteaters catcher Adam Lowenstein jawed with Clark and several other LSU players, prompting home-plate umpire David Rogers to have brief, fiery conversations with Mainieri and Anteaters coach Mike Gillespie.
“I don’t think the kids were doing anything out of line,” Mainieri said. “They were just being very emotional and energetic. I want them to be that way. I believe in enthusiasm and emotional can carry you along way in college baseball. They were fired up. Nothing was going to stop these kids (Monday).”
Once order was restored, the Tigers tacked on a sixth run when Leon Landry reached on an error and Ryan Schimpf struck the first blow of a three-hit (two homers), four-RBI night with a double.
There was plenty of firepower after that, as Dean finished 5-for-5, Gibbs collected three hits and three RBIs and LSU got home runs from Schimpf (twice), Johnny Dishon and Buzzy Haydel.
And the Anteaters didn’t go quietly, pushing across five runs in the final three innings when they were trailing 16-2.
But the first inning set the tone that began the night before when LSU erased a 7-4 deficit with five runs in the top of the ninth inning to stave off elimination.
“Against a team like UC Irvine, one of the things coach preaches to us is to get ahead,” said Hollander, who drew a standing ovation in the final at-bat of his LSU career. “We were excited and we knew we needed to jump on them early.”
If that was the message the Tigers got before the game, it wasn’t only the hitters who took it to heart.
LSU pitcher Blake Martin kept UCI (42-18) in check for the first four innings, permitting only a single run and three hits as the Tigers’ lead swelled.
Combined with five shutout innings to close out Sunday’s come-from-behind triumph, Martin’s opening salvo loomed huge.
“What won the game for us was Blake Martin going out there in the top of the first inning and pitching so well,” Mainieri said. “He set the tone that he was going to take charge of the game and that gave our hitters a lot of confidence.”
The Anteaters got to Martin for another run in the fifth to end his night, but there was little doubt that his ability to keep UCI runners off base was a major key.
UC Irvine recorded only one sacrifice bunt after laying down seven successfully in the first two games. Playing from so far behind forced the pesky ’Eaters to step out of character.
“Coming out and getting on them early like that really put them on their heels,” Gibbs said. “They’re a hit-and-run and bunting team and we took them out of their game.”
Jordan Brown (5-0) came on for Martin and got the victory in relief. Freshmen relievers Austin Ross and Anthony Ranaudo each pitched an inning to close it out — Ranaudo sealing LSU’s 14th trip to the College World Series when he retired the Anteaters in order.
When UCI’s Tyler Hoechlin tapped back to Raunado with two outs, the strapping Tigers pitcher calmly tossed the ball to Haydel at first. Once the ball — and reality — settled in, the LSU players charged onto the field and piled onto Ranaudo as The Box erupted for one final time.
Former Tigers coach Skip Bertman took a microphone to the middle of the diamond to MC the celebration for one last time at The Box.
The Tigers, whose season seemed like it was going nowhere in late April before a single-season school and Southeastern Conference record winning streak, took their last victory lap around the ballpark, a warm-up lap for a sendoff to Omaha’s Rosenblatt Stadium.
Also known as Alex Box North when LSU went to Omaha 13 times between 1986-2004 and ran off five national championships from 1991-2000.
Hollander was in the stands at The Box — the ones in Baton Rouge and Omaha. Now he’ll take the diamond at the Tigers’ familiar home away from home.
“I’ve been a big fan of LSU as long as I can remember,” Hollander said. “I’ve got a lot of memories here and it’s great to be part of a memory. Obviously it’s something I won’t forget. To be a part of this is unbelievable.”
Here's the You Tube Site to See LSU's 3 consecutive HR's in the 1st inning last night.

Goodbye Alex Box! Hello Omaha, LSU's Coming Back

Seventy years of history at Alex Box Stadium ended on Monday night at 10:01 p.m. -- and the next era will start on Sunday in Omaha. LSU's rapid ascent back to the top of college baseball continued with an NCAA Super Regional thumping of UC Irvine, 21-7, to advance to the NCAA College World Series for the 14th time. “Omaha, here come the Tigers,” LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said. “I’ve been waiting to say that for so long, and I know that the Tiger Nation will follow us up there. Omaha, Nebraska, it just feels great to say. These kids would not be denied today, you could just see it. I went into the locker room about three hours before game time. They were loose, confident and having fun. There was not an ounce of nervousness in them. You could see the determination in their faces.”
A little over 24 hours earlier, LSU (48-17-1) was down to its final three outs and trailed the Anteaters (42-18) by three runs before staging a comeback for the ages that resulted in the Tigers setting up an NCAA Super Regional winner-take-all game. LSU carried the momentum from Sunday’s thriller into Monday night and closed out the grand old ballpark by securing the program’s first Omaha appearance since 2004.
A stadium record 8,173 fans packed into every available space to watch the 1,723rd and final game at “The Box” as LSU improved to 30-6 on championship day in NCAA postseason play. The actual attendance shattered the previous mark of 7,607 set against Texas A&M in the second game of the 2004 NCAA Baton Rouge Super Regional.
LSU will play North Carolina in the opening round of the 2008 NCAA College World Series at 6 p.m. Sunday. The game will be televised nationally by ESPN 2.
The Tigers connected for seven home runs and used a memorable six-run first inning that featured three consecutive blasts from designated hitter Blake Dean, catcher Micah Gibbs and first baseman Matt Clark. LSU added three more runs over the next two frames and put the game out of reach with a seven-run uprising in the fifth. “It was the confidence level that these kids had tonight,” Mainieri said. “Back-to-back-to-back home runs in the first inning, I think it sent the message that we meant business. Nothing was going to stand in our way tonight.”
UC Irvine starter Bryce Stowell (8-3) entered the rubber game with a 2.77 ERA and a .236 opponent’s batting average. Stowell, who blanked Oral Roberts for seven innings in the NCAA Lincoln Regional, suffered his shortest outing of the season, allowing six runs – five earned -- without making it out of the first inning.
LSU tallied 21 runs – the most in an NCAA postseason game since posting 21 runs against UL-Monroe at the 2000 Baton Rouge Regional -- and the Tigers pounded a school postseason record 24 hits. Dean tied a school record with five of those hits and became the first LSU player to reach the five-hit plateau since Ryan Patterson did so against Tennessee on May 14, 2005.
Shortstop Michael Hollander started the barrage when he drew a four-pitch, leadoff walk, and left fielder Jared Mitchell singled. A balk was then ruled on Stowell and Hollander came into score the first run. Dean immediately crushed an offering over the right field wall for a two-run homer. Gibbs followed and lined an opposite field, solo shot over the left field wall. Clark gave the Alex Box faithful yet another memory when he lifted his nation-leading 26th homer over the left-centerfield wall to complete the back-to-back-to-back blasts.
The feat represented the second time LSU had homered in three consecutive at-bats this season and the first time in NCAA postseason play since Brad Cresse, Clint Earnhardt and Wes Davis did so against Mississippi State in the second inning of a 1998 College World Series contest.
Clark tied Eddy Furniss (1996) for sixth place in single-season home runs and matched Florida State’s Buster Posey for the national lead with his 26th dinger of the season.
Back-to-back doubles by Dean and Gibbs led to another run in the second, and Mitchell lined an RBI single through the right side in the third.
The 8-1 margin proved to be sufficient for LSU starter Blake Martin, who made his 17th start of the season. Martin worked into the fifth inning, issuing only two runs on five hits while striking out three and walking one.
After he exited, LSU put the game out of reach with seven runs in the bottom of the fifth. Second baseman Ryan Schimpf drove in three runs in the frame, launching a leadoff homer to start the inning and closing the scoring with a two-run double into the right field corner. Right fielder Derek Helenihi added a two-run single and the Tigers took a 16-2 advantage into the later innings.
Junior right-hander Jordan Brown (5-0) inherited the lead and qualified for the victory, allowing two runs on four hits in two innings of relief.
Schimpf added his second homer in the seventh, a two-run blast that gave him five RBI for the game. Freshman outfielder Johnny Dishon connected for a solo shot in the same inning, and junior first baseman Buzzy Haydel, who replaced Clark, launched his first homer of the season in the eighth to punctuate the final homer in the stadium’s history and give the Tigers a 20-7 lead. Dishon entered for centerfielder Leon Landry, who was hit in the eye by the ball while attempting to make another incredible catch in the fifth. Landry was OK after the game and should be ready to play Sunday.
Fittingly, Hollander, the Tigers’ lone senior position player, drove an RBI single through the left side in his final home at-bat that accounted for the final margin.
Freshman Anthony Ranaudo tossed the final inning and recorded the final out in Alex Box Stadium history when second baseman Tyler Hoechlin grounded out to the right-hander. Haydel earned the final putout and tossed the ball into the air to give the Alex Box faithful one lasting image. “There was no other way to send this stadium out, except to go out there and get the job done,”Mainieri said. “I’m just so happy for the people who have invested so much into this program and their support. It makes us feel so great that they got one more night in the memorable stadium.”

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Drew rewards an excellent effort

The Red Sox will likely never get to the stage where they're going to be bold enough to say, David Who? However, that doesn't mean that J.D. Drew isn't doing as strong a job as possible in holding down the No. 3 spot in the batting order until that guy named Ortiz comes back from the disabled list.
Before Sunday's game, David Ortiz used one word to describe Drew's swing.
"Perfect," marveled Big Papi.
A couple of hours later, Drew had indeed taken another perfect swing, cranking a solo homer to center in the bottom of the sixth to break a tie and ultimately lift the Red Sox to a 2-1 victory over the Mariners.
Drew has simply been marvelous during the month of June. His Sunday afternoon shot was his second homer in as many days, and fourth in 27 at-bats since the calendar flipped.
"Timing is everything, I guess," said Drew. "It's worked out well."
How well? In his eight-game hitting streak, Drew is 14-for-27. He is hitting .318 on the season.
"The timing has been just about perfect," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "I mean, he's seeing the ball really well. What you don't want is guys trying to do too much. Just try to keep a balanced batting order, and we still have that."
They are getting similar balance from the mound.
Justin Masterson, filling in for the injured Daisuke Matsuzaka, was strong yet again. The righty went six innings for the win, allowing three hits and a run while walking three and striking out four. In four starts, Masterson is 3-0 with a 2.59 ERA.
"You feel good because you're giving the team an opportunity to win," Masterson said. "I think that's the idea of any starting pitcher who goes out there, any guy who comes up. They want to give the best that they can in order for the team to be successful."
The bullpen took it home, with Craig Hansen and Hideki Okajima (scoreless inning each) setting up Jonathan Papelbon (five-pitch ninth inning) for save No. 18.
Boston's relievers have posted a 1.60 ERA over the last 11 games.
"Everyone is just rooting for each other out there, everyone is pushing for each other, everyone wants to see everyone do good," said Hansen. "It's just one little family within a big family."
The Mariners jumped out first on this hot, steamy day at Fenway. Adrian Beltre and Jeremy Reed led off the second with back-to-back walks. Beltre advanced to third on a deep flyout by Richie Sexson and scored on a fielder's-choice grounder by Yuniesky Betancourt.
Erik Bedard, who had been dominant against the Red Sox in recent years, had to work for everything he got in this one. Coco Crisp ignited a Boston rally in the third with a one-out single to right. Brandon Moss followed with a walk. With two outs, Dustin Pedroia took one of the key at-bats of the game, drawing a nine-pitch walk to load the bases. Red-hot Drew was then hit by a pitch to force in the tying run.
The biggest key for Boston in the early going was making Bedard throw 99 pitches over the first five innings. In particular, Pedroia was a pest, seeing 19 pitches in a span of two at-bats. That forced the Mariners to go to their bullpen in the sixth.
"You look at the box score and Petey didn't have anything to show for it, but those at-bats, he never gave in," Francona said. "He worked the count. Maybe that's the reason J.D. got to face a righty."
And after bringing in that righty -- Sean Green -- the Mariners got the wrong result. It was just five pitches into his outing when Drew led off the sixth with a homer to center, giving the Red Sox a lead they never relinquished at 2-1.
On a day in which beach balls were flying back and forth in the bleachers, the baseball had to look about that big to the locked-in Drew.
"Just trying to get a pitch in the zone that I can handle -- and if it's there -- put a nice swing on it," Drew said. "It's been running into the barrel, which is nice. Sometimes you miss your pitch and foul it off. It's nice to take a nice swing and square it up, that's for sure."
Giving Bedard such an early shower was a most unusual occurrence for the Red Sox.
"We haven't done anything against Bedard, ever," said Francona. "Coming into this game those were the worst matchups I've ever seen. I mean one through 13, everyone who's faced him hasn't really done anything."
By the time the media was allowed into the clubhouse, Bedard said he was too tired to talk.
Masterson, meanwhile, had plenty left in his verbal tank.
"I love the heat," Masterson said. "I don't think it can really get too hot for me to have too much fun out there. The heat seemed to be OK."
Perhaps the only thing hotter these days than the Fenway weather is Drew's bat.
"He's swinging the bat well -- real well," said Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek. "Even his outs, he's swinging the bat well. It's been good. And good timing with David out of this lineup."
Or as Ortiz might say, "Perfect."

One for the Ages': Super Regional Knotted After Thriller

Down by three runs with three outs remaining in the history of Alex Box Stadium, No. 2 LSU completed a comeback for the ages by plating five runs in the top of the ninth inning to square the 2008 NCAA Baton Rouge Super Regional at a game apiece with a 9-7 win over UC Irvine on Sunday.
“That was one for all the ages,” LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said. “I will always remember this no matter what happens in the future. I know it seems like I say the same things over and over again but these kids don’t know how to quit. I can honestly tell you that everyone in that dugout believed we could do it and there was no quit in anybody. One guy after another just kept doing it and it was an amazing thing.”
The Tigers (47-17-1), who saw their 23-game winning streak come to an end Saturday, forced a winner-take-all game to be played at 6 p.m. Monday. LSU will serve as the home team after winning a coin flip prior to Sunday’s contest. The winner of the third game will advance to the College World Series which gets underway next Saturday and Sunday.
LSU junior left-hander Blake Martin (5-3, 4.88) will take to the mound in hopes of sealing the Tigers’ 14th appearance in Omaha and the program’s first since 2004. UC Irvine will start sophomore right-hander Bryce Stowell (8-2, 2.77).
LSU recorded its 29th come-from-behind win of the year, and the Tigers plated seven runs in the final two frames after being stymied by Anteater starter Daniel Bibona for over seven innings.
Bibona took a comfortable 7-2 lead into the top of the eighth when left fielder Jared Mitchell sparked the rally with a leadoff solo home run. First baseman Matt Clark closed the deficit to 7-4 with an RBI single.
Right-hander Louis Coleman (7-0), in relief of starter Jared Bradford, worked a scoreless seventh and eighth to hold the deficit at three runs heading into the top of the ninth inning.
Centerfielder Leon Landry worked a leadoff walk on ace closer Eric Pettis, and second baseman Ryan Schimpf doubled down the right field line. Third baseman Michael Hollander then loaded the bases with a single to deep short. Mitchell walked to drive in Landry and cut the lead to 7-5.
With the bases loaded, pinch hitter Nicholas Pontiff drove in Schmipf with a fielder's choice to third base. Trailing 7-6, designated hitter Blake Dean hit an RBI single to right field to tie the game at 7-7 as Mitchell dove in ahead of the throw.
Catcher Sean Ochinko, who entered for Micah Gibbs in the eighth inning, hit a chopper over the third baseman's head to score Pontiff for the game-winning run and give the nearly 7,000 fans in attendance another incredible moment in Alex Box Stadium history.
The Tigers weren't done. After Clark was walked intentionally, shortstop DJ LeMahieu hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield to score Dean for the final margin.
“We’ve been talking about this the whole season that this is a 25-man roster,” Mainieri said. “Landry made a nice running catch in right field. Ochinko comes in with a big hit. These kids might be the superstars. They know that all those players are vital to this club.”
Coleman benefited from a diving catch up against the wall by Mitchell to start the ninth. The right-hander pitched around a one-out double to record the final two outs and maintain his undefeated record with three scoreless innings of relief.
“Louis Coleman, there are not enough words to describe him,” Mainieri said. “What he has done for our team over the course of this season is absolutely remarkable and that’s why I started (Jared) Bradford because I knew I would have Louis at the end.”
Pettis (4-3), who entered the game with a 1.65 ERA, suffered the heart-breaking loss after allowing five runs on five hits in an inning of work.
UC Irvine touched Bradford for seven runs on 10 hits in a six-inning start, and the Anteaters seemed to find every hole on hits in the middle frames.
UC Irvine turned a 2-1 deficit into a five-run lead with six runs in the fourth inning. Designated hitter Brock Bardeen homered, and catcher Aaron Lowenstein provided a two-run single. Ollie Linton and Ben Orloff each provided RBI singles.
LSU scored its first two runs on an RBI single from LeMahieu in the second and a run-scoring double by Clark in the third.

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.”

Daisuke Resumes Routine at Fenway

Daisuke Matsuzaka began throwing for the first time Saturday since being officially placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 30.
Matsuzaka, who suffered a mild strain of his right rotator cuff in his May 27 start against the Mariners, threw on flat ground after pitching coach John Farrell said the star right-hander tested out of his shoulder strengthening regimen on Friday.
"Tested out fine again [Friday], so that mean's we've got clearance to initiate the throwing program," Farrell said. "I think a lot of it will depend on how he progresses."
Farrell said Matsuzaka would begin throwing at 60 feet the first day.
"That's pretty consistent to all of our pitchers coming back in a situation such as this," Farrell said Friday. "So we'll begin at that distance and progress to long toss. There will be a minimum of one, likely two bullpens before putting him back in the game."
Sox manager Terry Francona said the workout prior to Boston's Saturday matchup with Seattle was strong.
"Everything went well," Francona said. "He's officially onto his throwing. Flat ground; it'll be flat ground for a while. This should come along pretty quickly."
He said the team will evaluate whether it's in Matsuzaka's best interest to remain with the team until he returns to the mound or to send him down for a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket.
"Does he need to go down? I don't know. I honestly don't know," Francona said. "If it's in his best interest; I'm sure we'll sit down and talk about it and include Daisuke, and try to figure out what's in his best interest."
Prior to his stint on the disabled list, Matsuzaka led the American League in wins with eight. He remains 8-0 in 11 starts with a 2.53 ERA on the season.
But even though Matsuzaka is back to throwing, it is still unlikely he'll be able to make a quick return. He's scheduled to come off the disabled list on June 12.
"Yeah, that's a little quick," Francona said.

Manny Connects in Red Sox Win

Hot" is likely an understatement when describing the weather on Saturday at Fenway Park, but J.D. Drew's bat made its own solid claim to the adjective against the Mariners.
The right fielder tattooed every ball he hit, coming up a double short of the cycle as Boston downed Seattle, 11-3, on a sweltering 86-degree afternoon. Even when Drew didn't reach base in his 3-for-5 day at the plate, he lashed line drives that were snagged by Mariners infielders.
"Everything [Drew hit] was on the nose," manager Terry Francona said. "Up the middle -- the middle of the ballpark. He could have easily had a five-hit day."
It's been a strong past two weeks at the plate for Drew, who is in the midst of a 10-game stretch in which he's batting .457. He's recorded multiple hits in six of those contests and has a seven-game hitting streak overall.
"You have times during your season when you're going through a good stretch and you feel like you're seeing the ball better," Drew said. "And those are nice times, because there are often times when it's tough because you're up there battling to get the hit.
"It's nice to go through a stretch where you feel like you're seeing the ball well."
Drew teamed with leadoff man Coco Crisp in making Seattle starter Miguel Batista appear as if he was throwing batting practice to the Boston lineup. Along with Drew's strong day at the plate, Crisp went 2-for-5 and nearly sent a home run down the right-field line in his first at-bat that hooked foul.
It was Crisp's RBI single immediately following Alex Cora's go-ahead RBI double in the fourth inning that put the Sox up for good with a bit of insurance. The back-to-back RBI hits came in the midst of a two-out rally.
Cora ripped his double to the left-center-field gap. It was chased down but bobbled by left fielder Raul Ibanez, allowing Brandon Moss to score from first base.
"Guys going up there and putting together good [at-bats]," catcher Kevin Cash said. "Batista kind of picks around the plate -- you just have to be patient, and I think we were patient today, as opposed to the last time we were in Seattle."
The Sox put together strong plate appearances all afternoon, drawing six walks from Batista alone -- one being intentional. The Sox drew seven free passes overall.
Manny Ramirez's offensive production put Boston on the board early. Ramirez, who sat out Friday's game to rest his sore right hamstring, stepped into the batter's box and launched a two-run homer in his first at-bat. It was Ramirez's 14th homer of the season and his 504th overall, tying Eddie Murray for 23rd all-time.
Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield said the early run production added to a confident vibe he had coming out of his pregame warmups.
"With the early homer by Manny, it made it a little bit easier for us, and obviously our offense exploded there," Wakefield said. "It's nice to pitch on days like that."
The two-run shot gave Boston a quick lead, but Seattle rallied in the top of the third to knot the game at 2 against Wakefield. Wakefield, whose knuckleball was dancing in the humid Boston air on Saturday, settled down after shaky innings in the first and third. He allowed just two runs on five hits over seven innings of work.
By the time Wakefield was resting in the dugout in the eighth, the Sox had begun unloading more on the Mariners' bullpen.
Boston notched five runs in the eighth inning alone, with the majority of the damage being charged to Mark Lowe. Lowe pitched just one-third of an inning and allowed five runs on four hits. Perhaps the high point in that inning for the Fenway crowd came when Ramirez drew a walk and was replaced by Jacoby Ellsbury, who saw his first action since straining his right wrist in Thursday's game against Tampa Bay.
The huge late-inning surge on top of the early runs was more than enough to seal a Red Sox victory. One night after Boston's normally potent offense was quieted by Seattle ace Felix Hernandez, 8-0, the Sox bounced back with a good dose of scoring.
The top of Boston's batting order made sure of that, which made Francona content that his team picked up its intensity after the lopsided loss.
"We did a good job; we played a good game," Francona said. "We scored early and we added on."


Ole Miss sophomore quarterback Jevan Snead has been selected as the Southeastern Conference Newcomer of the Year by Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook, as announced Friday.
The publication also named senior offensive lineman Michael Oher to its Preseason All-SEC first team and junior defensive end Greg Hardy to its second team. Both players have been unanimous preseason all-conference picks.
A 6-foot-3, 215-pounder from Stephenville, Texas, Snead sat out last year due to NCAA rules after transferring from Texas in January 2007. The former prep All-American completed 20-of-26 passes for 269 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in the Rebels’ spring game.