HOOVER, Ala. -- Designated hitter Blake Dean’s two-run homer Sunday highlighted a five-run LSU fifth inning, and right-hander Louis Coleman fired six scoreless relief innings to lead the eighth-ranked Tigers to an 8-2 victory over Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament championship game at Regions Park.
LSU (43-16-1) won its 20th straight game, establishing a school record. The previous mark of 19 consecutive wins was set by the 1997 club. The Tigers, who trailed 2-1 entering the bottom of the fifth inning, won for the 16th time during the 20-game streak after facing a deficit.
LSU claimed its seventh SEC Tournament championship and its first since 2000. LSU and Alabama are tied for the most league tournament titles with seven apiece.
Ole Miss, playing in its third SEC Tournament title game in the last four seasons, dropped to 37-24 with Sunday’s loss.
LSU will play host to the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional beginning at 1 p.m. Friday. The entire NCAA Tournament field, including the eight national seeds will be announced at 11:30 a.m. Monday on ESPN.
“It’s a tremendous feeling to be SEC Tournament champions,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “This is a game we really wanted to win very badly. I think it’s important for these kids to learn to win championships. It was a tremendous total team effort. I’m very proud to be the coach of the LSU Tigers.
“If there ever was a team that defines unselfishness, this is it. There’s an old saying that there’s no telling what you can accomplish if no one cares who gets the credit, and I think this team epitomizes that.”
LSU exploded for five runs in the fifth to erase a 2-1 deficit and take a 6-2 lead. Shortstop DJ LeMahieu led off the inning with a double, and he advanced to third on a double by centerfielder Leon Landry. Second baseman Ryan Schimpf then ripped the Tigers’ third straight double, scoring LeMahieu and Landry and prompting Baker’s exit from the mound.
Hollander followed with a infield single against Ole Miss reliever Jake Morgan before leftfielder Jared Mitchell fanned for the first out of the inning. Schimpf and Hollander executed a double steal, and rIghtfielder Derek Helenihi’s sacrifice fly to right field gave LSU a 4-2 lead.
Dean, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, punctuated the rally with a two-run blast to right-centerfield, increasing the advantage to 6-2. The dinger was Dean’s 16th of the season and his third in the SEC Tournament. He hit a grand slam Saturday versus Alabama, and he launched a walk-off solo shot in the 10th inning Wednesday against South Carolina.
“We started off slow at the beginning of the year,” Dean said, “but we worked our tails off. Today we fell behind, battled back and looked to Louis Coleman to close it out. We came out today ready to play and we got the job done.”
The Tigers added a run in the seventh when Mitchell lined a two-out double, stole third base and scored on a wild pitch by Ole Miss reliever Cody Satterwhite.
First baseman Matt Clark led off the LSU eighth inning with a homer, his 22nd of the season and his third of the tournament.
Dean, Clark, Schimpf and LSU left-hander Blake Martin – who defeated Vanderbilt on Thursday – were named to the SEC All-Tournament team.
Ole Miss took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning against LSU starter Daniel Bradshaw when rightfielder Jordan Henry singled, moved to third on designated hitter Fuller Smith’s single and scored on leftfielder Logan Power’s RBI groundout.
LSU tied the game in the bottom of the frame when Hollander singled against Ole Miss starter Nathan Baker, moved to second on Mitchell’s sacrifice bunt and scored when Ole Miss shortstop committed a throwing error on a grounder hit by rightfielder Derek Helenihi.
Ole Miss reclaimed the lead in the second when centerfielder Michael Guerrero launched a solo homer, his fifth dinger of the tournament.
However, Ole Miss was held scoreless the rest of the way, as Coleman – who entered the game in the fourth inning – was brilliant in relief. Coleman improved his record to 6-0 on the year as he allowed just three hits in six innings with no walks and seven strikeouts.
Baker (3-5) was charged with the loss as he surrendered four runs – three earned – on five hits in four innings with no walks and two strikeouts.
LSU 8, Ole Miss 2 (May 25, 2008 at Hoover, Ala.)
Ole Miss............ 110 000 000 - 2 8 1 (37-24)
LSU................... 100 050 11X - 8 10 0 (43-16-1)
Pitchers: Ole Miss - Nathan Baker; Jake Morgan(5); Cody Satterwhite(6); Rory McKean(8).
LSU - Daniel Bradshaw; Louis Coleman(4).
Win-Louis Coleman(6-0) Loss-Nathan Baker(3-5) T-2:49 A-11123
HR OM - Michael Guerrero (9).
HR LSU - Blake Dean (16); Matt Clark (22).
N. Baker faced 3 batters in the 5th.
2008 SEC Baseball Tournament All-Tournament Team
P Lance Lynn, Ole Miss
P Blake Martin, LSU ; Austin Hyatt, Alabama
C Alex Avila, Alabama
1B Matt Clark, LSU; Andrew Giobbi, Vanderbilt
2B Ryan Schimph, LSU
3B Chris McClendon, Kentucky
SS Ryan Flaherty, Vanderbilt
OF Michael Guerrero, Ole Miss
OF Jordan Henry, Ole Miss
OF Kent Matthes, Alabama; Sawyer Carroll, Kentucky
DH Blake Dean, LSU
Most Valuable Player: Blake Dean, LSU
LSU HEAD COACH PAUL MAINIERI
"It is a tremendous feeling to be SEC Tournament Champions. This is a game we really wanted to win very badly. I think it's very important for these kids to learn to win championships. It was a tremendous total team effort. I am very proud to be the coach of the LSU Tigers."
On postseason awards and LSU not having anyone on the all-league team...
"I think in a weird kind of way they feel good about it because they know that the team is bigger than any one individual. We preach these things all the team, and if there is ever a team that defines unselfishness – there's an old saying that there's no telling what you can accomplish if no one is there to take the credit, and I think this team defines that.
LOUIS COLEMAN, PITCHER
On the championship game today...
"It's very hard to describe. Coming in, I was just excited that we here but also wanted to win it. I've never won a championship before and to be here – I'm very happy and fortunate. And the way the guys played today was unbelievable."
BLAKE DEAN, DH
"We started off slow at the beginning of the year and we worked our tail off. We fell behind, battled back and looked to Louis to close us out. We came out today ready to play and we got the job done."
Ole Miss Quotes
OLE MISS HEAD COACH MIKE BIANCO
"I thought the kids competed really hard. I'm proud of the way we went after LSU in the beginning. We opened the door for them (LSU) a couple of times, and you can see why they are on one of the hottest streaks in the country. They take advantage of it. That's why the steak is what is. They make big at bats, big plays and big pitches."
NATHAN BAKER, PITCHER
On the game...
"I thought that (Louis) Coleman did a very good job. We battled really well, but LSU was just too good for us. I thought Blake Dean had a big day at the plate along with some of the other hitters. They just hit the ball well today."
JAKE MORGAN, PITCHER
On the game...
"We just ran into a hot LSU team. They're hitters have seen a lot of good pitchers during the tournament. It makes it tough for the pitchers who come in. We need bigger pitchers in situations like that."
MICHAEL GUERRERO, CENTER FIELDER
On the game...
"It's a disappointment to lose. You have to give credit to LSU because they are hot and hard to beat. I'm proud of the way we fought. We had to fight to be here during the Kentucky series. I'm proud of our team."
- LSU is 4-1 versus Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament.
- LSU now has seven SEC Tournament titles (1986, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 2000 and 2008). That moves them into a tie with Alabama for the most conference tournament titles.
- LSU's 8-2 victory over Ole Miss in the SEC Championship is the second time Ole Miss has lost to a team that they won the regular season series. (MSU in 2005, LSU in 2008)
- LSU has now won 20 consecutive games, the most in school history. Counting a 10-10 tie with Georgia, the Tiger's have not lost in 21 straight games.
- LSU relief pitcher Louis Coleman matched his season highs for innings pitched with 6.0 and strikeouts with 7.
- LSU DH Blake Dean went 2-for-3 with a run scored and 2 RBI. He ended the tournament with 9 RBI, the most of the tournament.
- Ole Miss CF Michael Guerrero hit his fifth homerun of the tournament, the most of any single player in the tournament.
- Ole Miss RF Jordan Henry went 1-for-4 with a run scored, giving him 11 hits for tournament. That was the most of any other player in this year's tournament.
- Total attendance for the 2008 SEC Tournament was 124,139. It was the highest total attendance since the 2002 SEC Tournament and is the second largest all-time attendance in the history of the tournament.
- A total of 27 home runs were hit in this year's tournament. That is most that have been hit in the tournament since it moved to Hoover in 1998, and the second most hit in the history of the SEC Tournament.
- LSU's win in the SEC Tournament means that the Tigers have earned the SEC automatic bid into the NCAA Baseball Tournament.
The 16 regional sites, with host institutions and records through Sunday, May 25, are as follows:
Arizona State (45-11), Tempe, Ariz.
Cal State Fullerton (37-19), Fullerton, Calif.
Coastal Carolina (47-12), Conway, S.C.
Florida St. (48-10), Tallahassee, Fla.
Georgia (35-21-1), Athens, Ga.
Long Beach State (37-19), Long Beach, Calif.
LSU (43-16-1), Baton Rouge, La.
Miami (Fla.) (47-8); Coral Gables, Fla..
Michigan (45-12), Ann Arbor, Mich.
Nebraska (40-14-1), Lincoln, Neb.
North Carolina (46-12), Chapel Hill, N.C.
North Carolina State (38-20), Raleigh, N.C.
Oklahoma State (42-16), Stillwater, Okla.
Rice (42-13), Houston, Texas
Stanford (33-20-2), Stanford, Calif.
Texas A&M (43-16) College Station, Texas
The regional hosted by North Carolina will be played at USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.
By virtue of being awarded a regional, all 16 host institutions have also been selected to the 64-team field. Cal State Fullerton, Coastal Carolina, Florida State, Georgia, Long Beach State, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Oklahoma State, Rice, Stanford and Texas A&M have made the field as at-large selections. Arizona State (Pacific-10), LSU (Southeastern), Miami (Fla.) (Atlantic Coast) and Michigan (Big Ten) have clinched automatic berths by virtue of winning their conference tournament championship.
The remaining at-large teams, top-eight national seeds, first-round regional pairings and site assignments will be announced at 11:30 a.m. CDT, Monday, May 26, during a live, half-hour program on ESPN. The committee will set the entire 64-team bracket through both the super regionals and the first round of the Men’s College World Series, and will not reseed the field after play begins. Selection of the eight super regional hosts will be announced on www.ncaa.com, Monday, June 2 at approximately 11 p.m. (ET).