LSU's Blake Dean
Photo by: LSUsports.net, LSU Athletics Publications
Baseball Takes DH From Stetson, 9-3 and 6-5
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Published: March 08, 2008, 12:00 AM (CT)
Updated: October 29, 2009, 03:32 AM (CT)
by LSUsports.net (@LSUsports), LSU Sports Interactive

BATON ROUGE -- LSU swept two games from Stetson in a doubleheader Saturday in Alex Box Stadium. The Tigers captured Game 1, 9-3, and held off the Hatters, 6-5, in Game 2.

LSU improved to 11-1 on the season. Stetson dropped to 6-6. LSU has won nine straight games, its longest win streak since the 2006 club also won nine straight prior to the start of SEC play.

The LSU-Stetson series finale starts at 1 p.m. Sunday. The contest will be broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network (WDGL 98.1 FM), and live audio and video will be available in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net.

Junior southpaw Blake Martin (1-0, 2.31 ERA) will start Sunday’s game for the Tigers.

Junior Ryan Verdugo (3-0) allowed three runs in five innings pitched to notch the victory in Game 2 Saturday. Stetson starter Nick Pugliese (2-1) was charged with the loss.

The bullpen trio of Jordan Nicholson, Paul Bertuccini and Daniel Bradshaw gave up only two runs in four solid innings of work to secure the win for the Tigers.

“I know (Jordan) Nicholson gave up two runs, but that kid has done a great job for us,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “He comes in and throws strikes. Give credit to them. They hit a couple of good balls against him, but even still, he didn’t hurt himself by walking batters.”

Bertuccini recorded an enormous out in the seventh inning. Coming in to relieve Nicholson with the tying run on second base and designated hitter Aaron Crittenden at the plate, the sophomore induced a groundout to end the inning.

“I don’t know how many superlatives I can use to describe Paul Bertuccini,” Mainieri added. “It seems he just keeps coming in every game and getting the key out of the game.”

Bradshaw recorded his second save of the season. The freshman closer struck out the side in the eighth inning and stymied the Stetson hitters in the ninth.

“I have a lot of confidence in that kid (Bradshaw),” Mainieri said. “He’s done a super job. I know he hasn’t competed in the SEC yet, but I would be absolutely shocked if he doesn’t get the job done no matter who we play.”

The Tigers provided some fireworks in the bottom of the first inning as they jumped out to a 4-0 lead. Second baseman Ryan Schimpf started the inning with a solo homerun to right center field off Pugliese. The sophomore’s dinger was his first career leadoff homer.

After designated hitter Derek Helenihi walked, left fielder Blake Dean drilled an RBI triple into the gap in right center field. The triple was Dean’s first of the season. First baseman Matt Clark followed with an RBI single to score Dean.

Four batters later, shortstop D.J. LeMahieu beat out an infield single to plate right fielder Rene Escobar for the fourth run. All nine hitters batted in the inning, and the Tigers chased Pugliese from the game.

The Hatters notched a run in the top of the third. Left fielder Matt Sorrell singled to left field to leadoff the inning, and first baseman Jeremy Cruz knocked him in with an RBI single past the outstretched glove of LeMahieu.  

Stetson added another run in the top of the fourth to cut into the Tigers lead, 4-2. Crittenden ripped a double into the gap in right center and advanced to third when right fielder Brian Pruitt grounded out to first in the next at-bat. Verdugo threw a wild pitch in the dirt, and Crittenden scored.

The Tigers capitalized on a couple of errors to collect a run in the bottom of the fourth. After Helenihi walked, Dean reached first base on a dropped pop up by second baseman Casey Frawley, and Helenihi advanced to third. Then, Helenihi scored when catcher Brad Pippa threw the ball away into left field attempting to pick off the Tigers’ DH at third. LSU added to its lead, 5-2.

The Hatters tallied a run in the top of the fifth to make the score, 5-3, in the back-and-forth affair. Verdugo hit Frawley with a pitch, and shortstop Robert Crews drove him in with an RBI double.

The Tigers took advantage of another Stetson miscue to score a run in the bottom of the fifth. With two outs, Mitchell reached on a fielding error by Cruz. After a walk by LeMahieu, third baseman Michael Hollander singled in Mitchell to give the Tigers a 6-3 lead.

The Hatters scored two runs in the seventh to close to within one run, 6-5. Frawley doubled off Nicholson, and Crews followed with an RBI triple into the gap in right center. Cruz knocked in Crews with a sacrifice fly into right field.

The combination of Bradshaw’s pitching and superb defense in the eighth and ninth innings shut the door on the Hatters.

“At least, at the very end, we showed poise with our pitching and our defense to be able to hold on,” Mainieri said. “I think the sign of a good team is to win the close ones.”

LSU (11-1) got some unexpected power from Jared Mitchell and Hollander in Game 1, as they both hit their first home runs of the season. Mitchell’s was an inside the park home run.

Helenihi finished the game with four hits, one RBI and a run. Clark had three hits with an RBI and a run.

Jared Bradford (3-0) earned the win for the Tigers. He started strong, striking out the side in the first inning. In total, he pitched six innings, striking out eight.

Opening the game at the plate for LSU, Schimpf and Helenihi hit back-to-back singles. Schimpf came home on a Clark single for the first run of the game.

Stetson gave Bradford a difficult time at the plate in the third inning. After back-to-back singles, left fielder Justin Bass drilled a double into the right field corner, driving in a run to tie the game at one run a piece. The Hatters (6-5) took the lead on a fielder’s choice with the next at bat.

The Tigers struck again in the third with a single and double by Schimpf and Helenihi, respectively. Dean drove Schimpf home to tie the game when Helenihi was tied up on the base paths between second and third, eventually reaching third when the ball was dropped by Stetson’s pitcher, Jake Hitchcock. Helenihi scored on an Escobar single, giving the Tigers a 3-2 lead.

The Tigers weren’t done. Mitchell walked to load the bases for DJ LeMahieu. The freshman shortstop hit a dribbler off of Hitchcock, scoring Dean for the third and final run of the inning.

Sean Ochinko opened the fifth with a double to centerfield. He advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Mitchell, and scored on a LeMahieu double. LeMahieu scored on a Helenihi single, putting the Tigers up by a score of 6-2.

Clark and Mitchell scored on Mitchell’s inside the park home run in the sixth, giving the Tigers an 8-2 lead.

Mitchell’s inside the park home run was the first by a Tiger since Cedrick Harris hit one against Nicholls State in the sixth inning of a 12-4 LSU victory on March 17, 1999 in Alex Box Stadium.

Hollander’s home run in the seventh, a solo shot, gave the Tigers their final run of the game.

Austin Ross came on in relief of Bradford in the seventh. He gave up three straight hits and a run to begin the eighth inning before cooling off to close out the rest of the game. In three innings, he struck out two, capturing his first save of the season.

GAME 1 -- LSU 9, Stetson 3 (Mar 08, 2008 at Baton Rouge, La.)

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Stetson............. 002 000 010  -  3 13  1      (6-5)
LSU................. 103 022 10X  -   9 16  0      (10-1)

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Pitchers: Stetson - Jake Hitchcock; Ian Thompson(6); Nick Bohne(6); David Burns(7);
Drew Jackson(8). LSU - Jared Bradford; Austin Ross(7).
Win-Jared Bradford(3-0)  Save-Austin Ross(1)  Loss-Jake Hitchcock(1-1)  T-3:01  A-7408
HR LSU - Jared Mitchell (1); Michael Hollander (1).
Weather: 56 degrees and fair
Actual attendance: 2,618
Game 1 of a doubleheader

GAME 2 -- LSU 6, Stetson 5 (Mar 08, 2008 at Baton Rouge, La.)

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Stetson............. 001 110 200  -  5 10  4      (6-6)
LSU................. 400 110 00X  -   6  7  0      (11-1)

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Pitchers: Stetson - Nick Pugliese; Ian Thompson(2); David Burns(6); Justin Dechert(6).
LSU - Ryan Verdugo; Jordan Nicholson(6); Paul Bertuccini(7); Daniel Bradshaw(8).
Win-Ryan Verdugo(3-0)  Save-Daniel Bradshaw(2)  Loss-Nick Pugliese(2-1)  T-3:04  A-6986
HR LSU - Ryan Schimpf (2).
Weather: 50 degrees and clear
Actual attendance: 1,548
Game 2 of a doubleheader.
Verdugo faced 1 batter in the 6th.
Thompson faced 1 batter in the 6th.

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