It’s do-or-die now for LSU, Texas
Posted: Wednesday, June 24, 2009 6:07 pm
By: By ERIC OLSON, AP Sports Writer
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The winner-take-all game between LSU and Texas for the national championship tonight excites Augie Garrido the college baseball fan as much as it excites Augie Garrido the coach.
“It’s being played out by the No. 1 team in the polls and the No. 1 team by the committee, and two of the most storied programs in college baseball history,” the Longhorns’ coach said Tuesday after his team’s 5-1 win in Game 2 of the best-of-three finals.
“It couldn’t be better than this for all the people involved — the College World Series, ESPN, the two schools. It’s pretty cool.”
Texas freshman All-American Taylor Jungmann limited LSU to five hits in his first complete game, putting the Longhorns (50-15-1) in position to play for their seventh national title and third since 2002. LSU (55-17) will be going for its sixth title and first since Skip Bertman won the last of his five in 2000.
The Longhorns will start Cole Green (5-3) against LSU’s Anthony Ranaudo (11-3). Green will be making his third start of the CWS. He didn’t get a decision in the other two. He’s given up five runs in his 13 innings in Omaha. Ranaudo also is starting his third game, having allowed two runs over 91/3 innings while winning once.
One night after his shortest outing of the season, Jungmann turned in his longest — and his best.
Jungmann (11-3), who entered Game 1 as a reliever and threw six pitches all for balls before getting pulled, came back to win his third game in Omaha. The other two wins were in relief. This one marked the first complete game in the CWS since 2006.
LSU, which had averaged 9.5 runs in its first four CWS games, had its 14-game win streak end.
“Tonight wasn’t our night,” Tigers coach Paul Mainieri said. “We could have played better, but give credit to Texas. We’ve got one more shot at them. I think there are a lot of teams that would love to trade positions with us.”
A thunderstorm pushed back the start of Game 2 an hour and 34 minutes. Garrido said the delay helped Jungmann, because the temperature dropped from 97 degrees to 82 and the humidity was knocked down to 42 percent.
“When we first got to the ballpark, it was steaming,” Garrido said. “It helped him finish the game. He was brilliant. His teammates got him an early lead. The best thing for a pitcher’s curveball is a four-run lead.”
LSU starter Aaron Ross (6-8) lasted only two innings in his first CWS start. Mainieri said he knew trouble was looming when Ross walked Michael Torres on four pitches to start the game.
“I expected more,” Mainieri said. “He wasn’t on his game tonight. Too much pitches were elevated. We were fortunate they only scored one run each of the first two innings.”
Preston Clark homered for a 2-0 lead in the second and finished with three hits and two RBI.
Russell Moldenhauer’s surprising show of power continued.
He came to Omaha with no home runs this season and became the 10th player to hit four in a CWS when he sent a high fly over the right-center field fence off left-hander Ryan Byrd in the third.
Moldenhauer said he guessed right when Byrd served up an inside fastball on a 3-1 count.
“Luckily he left it up enough for me to elevate it,” he said. “I just put the bat on the ball.”
Jungmann had never pitched more than 72/3 innings. He gave up a triple to DJ LeMahieu leading off the third in addition to four singles.
LSU scored on shortstop Brandon Loy’s fielding error in the second. The Tigers got the leadoff man on base to start four innings after that, but couldn’t score.
The Longhorns scored all five runs in the first three innings and mustered only four singles the rest of the way.
If the Tigers lose on Wednesday, it would mark only the second time this season that they have lost back-to-back games.
“You can’t have a hangover tomorrow,” LSU’s Jared Mitchell said. “We’ve done a good job bouncing back from losses. We just have to go home and flush it out and come back tomorrow.”