Mainieri Wins No. 900; Baseball Completes Sweep, 12-2
LSU Sports Interactive
A sunny afternoon drew a paid attendance of 7,023 to the ballpark for the series finale.
The weekend sweep provided flashbacks of the “Gorilla Ball era” in the 1990s as the Tigers blasted an astounding 13 homers in the three-game set. The Tigers had managed only one dinger through the first five games before the weekend series.
“Obviously, we took advantage of the way the wind was blowing all weekend,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri, who earned his 900th career coaching victory. “I think it’s a sign of smart hitters, too, when you take advantage of it. If we had tried to pull balls instead of hit them to the opposite field, we would not have taken as much advantage of it.
“I was really happy to see the kids go up to the plate and be really aggressive and confident.”
Mainieri, now in his 26th year of collegiate coaching, recorded 179 wins in six seasons at St. Thomas University, 152 wins in six seasons at Air Force, 533 wins in 12 seasons at Notre Dame, and he has 36 wins in his second season at LSU.
Mainieri’s cumulative record is 900-519-5 (.634).
The weekend couldn’t have gone much better for Clark or LeMahieu at the plate. The duo hit eight of the 14 homers over the weekend. Clark came into the series struggling offensively, but the junior college transfer concluded a sizzling three-day period with an amazing five homers and raised his batting average to .385.
“I knew it was just a matter of time for him (Clark),” Mainieri said. “He was pressing a little bit early in the first few games, and I thought we had some difficult climate conditions for home runs, but sooner or later, I knew he would break out.”
The Tiger pitching staff rebounded collectively from a rough outing in Saturday’s game. Ryan Verdugo (2-0) allowed one run off two hits in five inning of work en route to his second win of the season. In addition, right-handers Jordan Nicholson, Ben Alsup and Daniel Bradshaw pitched four solid innings.
Mainieri believes the pitching staff still has room for improvement but likes what he sees from his young relievers.
“Nicholson was outstanding in the couple of times he pitched, and we might have discovered something there with that kid,” Mainieri said. “Alsup, I thought threw very well, too, and he has a very high ceiling. I think he will continue to improve.”
After three scoreless innings for both teams, Duquesne notched a run in the top of the fourth inning. Second baseman Bill Torre walked to lead off the inning and swiped second base. Three batters later, third baseman Chris Happ lined a rocket off the glove of third baseman Michael Hollander, and Torre scored from third. The play was ruled an RBI single for Happ, and the Dukes took a 1-0 lead.
The Tigers scored three runs in the bottom of the fourth to regain the lead, 3-1. Clark obliterated a 2-2 offering from Duquesne starter Gary Pierpont, sending one of his two dingers on the day over the 405-foot mark in center field.
The Tigers added four runs in the fifth inning. LeMahieu and left fielder Blake Dean hammered solo shots, and Ochinko knocked in Clark with a double into center field. Ochinko scored the final run of the inning off an error by third baseman Chris Happ to give the Tigers a 7-1 lead.
LSU put five more runs on the board in the eighth inning. Second baseman Ryan Schimpf connected on his first homer of the season, which plated two runs. Also, LeMahieu hit a solo shot for his second of the game, and Clark blasted another dinger to drive in two more runs. The three homers in the inning capped a six-homerun day for the Tigers.
Pierpont (0-2) was charged with the loss after allowing three runs (only one earned) in four innings of work.
LSU 12, Duquesne 2 (Mar 02, 2008 at Baton Rouge, La.)
Duquesne............ 000 100 001 - 2 5 4 (0-6)
LSU..................... 000 340 05X - 12 12 2 (7-1)
Pitchers: Duquesne - Gary Pierpont; Grant Gillespie(5); Jeremy Gerger(7); Danny Brown(8). LSU -
Ryan Verdugo; Jordan Nicholson(6); Ben Alsup(8); Daniel Bradshaw(9).
Win-Ryan Verdugo(2-0) Loss-Gary Pierpont(0-2) T-2:49 A-7023
HR DUQ - Aaron Janusey (1).
HR LSU - Ryan Schimpf (1); DJ LeMahieu 2 (3); Blake Dean (3); Matt Clark 2 (5).
Weather: 75 degrees, breezy
Actual Attendance: 2,605