BATON ROUGE -- Leftfielder Blake Dean blasted a three-run homer and centerfielder Jared Mitchell had three RBI as the Tigers exploded for a 12-3 victory over Villanova (0-1) in the season-opener in the new Alex Box Stadium.
The Tigers (1-0), who are ranked No.1 by Collegiate Baseball and USA Today/ESPN, captured their eighth-straight home opener in front of a crowd of 9,054 in the new stadium’s inaugural contest.
Senior right-hander Louis Coleman (1-0) started hot on the mound for the Tigers, striking out the side in the top of the first inning. Coleman got the win, lasting five innings and surrendering no runs on two hits with two walks and eight strikeouts.
“Louis did exactly what I hoped he would do,” said head coach Paul Mainieri. “I thought his experience would lend to him having tremendous poise under the circumstances and if he could dominate the game early it would give our guys the opportunity to get their feet wet in the new season.”
LSU got the scoring started early with the help of some Villanova errors, as the Tigers notched four runs in the first inning. Jared Mitchell singled up the middle with the bases loaded, scoring Ryan Schimpf and Micah Gibbs. After Mitchell stole second, first baseman Sean Ochinko knocked in Mitchell and D.J. LeMahieu with a deep drive to left field that hit off the glove of Villanova leftfielder Matt McFolling, making the score 4-0.
LSU went up 5-0 in the second when third baseman Derek Helenihi scored from third on a balk by Villanova starter Chris Pack.
Pack (0-1), who was charged with the loss, gave up five runs, one of them earned, on four hits in four innings of work.
Mitchell got his third RBI of the evening on a single in the fifth inning when he knocked in. LeMahieu, who tripled off Nova reliever Mike Francisco.
Mitchell finished 2-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored.
The Tigers took a 9-0 lead in the sixth when leftfielder Blake Dean hit a three-run home run off Francisco, who walked Leon Landry and Schimpf prior to facing Dean. Francisco left the game after an inning and a third when he gave up a double to Gibbs following Dean’s homer.
The Wildcats scored their first two runs in the seventh inning when third baseman Kevin Wager singled to left off LSU reliever Nolan Cain. Wager then scored from third on a passed ball a few batters later to cut the Tiger lead to 9-3.
LSU extended the lead to 11-3 in the bottom of the seventh when Schimpf doubled to right scoring Nicholas Pontiff and Landry.
The season-opening series in the new Alex Box stadium continues Saturday at 2 p.m. and will conclude Sunday at noon. Saturday’s contest can be heard on the LSU Sports Radio Network (WDGL 98.1 in Baton Rouge) and live audio and video will be available on the Geaux Zone at www.lsusports.net.
Sophomore right-hander Anthony Ranaudo is slated to take the mound for LSU while Villanova will counter with junior right-hander Brian Strelein.
LSU 12, Villanova 3 (Feb 20, 2009 at Baton Rouge, La.)
Villanova........... 000 000 300 - 3 5 3 (0-1)
LSU................. 410 013 21X - 12 10 1 (1-0)
Pitchers: Villanova - Chris Pack; Mike Francisco(5); Michael Mayer(6); Thomas Tesauro(7); Kyle McMyne(8). LSU - Louis Coleman; Nolan Cain(6); Ryan Byrd(9).
Win-Louis Coleman(1-0) Loss-Chris Pack(0-1) T-3:17 A-10019
HR LSU - Blake Dean (1).
Largest paid and actual home attendance in LSU Baseball history.
Actual attendance: 9,054