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LSU's College World Series 'Press Box Blog'
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Published: June 25, 2009, 12:00 AM (CT)
Updated: October 29, 2009, 03:38 AM (CT)
by LSUsports.net (@LSUsports), LSU Sports Interactive

Welcome to LSU's 'Press Box Blog' presented by Taco Bell on LSUsports.net. On Thursday, June 11, the LSU baseball team travelled to Omaha for the 2009 CWS. Read our official blog to get insight, images and behind the scenes information before, during and after the run to the 2009 NCAA Baseball National Championship.

 

Thursday, June 25

3:58 p.m.
From one press box to another, I've made it to Alex Box Stadium as the National Championship Celebration is about to begin. The entire LSU team, coaches and support staff will take the field and sit in front of a stage that's been built on the infield.

Fans have gathered in the grandstand to watch the historic event, as in less than an hour LSU will raise its 2009 National Championship flag.

The team is about to be introduced by class, then a video produced by David Landry and Kevin Wagner in the past 12 hours will be shown on the video scoreboard. There will be comments from Bill Franques, AD Joe Alleva, Chancellor Mike Martin, coach Paul Mainieri and four of the LSU players.

Check back for photos and highlights of the event later today.

Let's party!

10:14 a.m.
Good morning from Omaha for the last time! The team will board its charter flight at Eppley Field in Omaha around 1 p.m. and arrive in Baton Rouge near 3 p.m. A Championship Celebration will be held at the new Alex Box Stadium at 4 p.m.

Thanks to all of you who have supported the LSU Baseball team thoughout the season, and followed these past two weeks on LSUsports.net. Congratulations to you and to the Tigers who worked so hard to achieve their goal in 2009.

I hope to see you at the Celebration today, or in Seattle, Wash., for the football opener against Washington on Sept. 5.

Geaux Tigers!

9:45 a.m.
Watch a recap video from the NCAA.

Wednesday, June 24

9:50 p.m.
Tigers Win!!!

Be the first to own a piece of LSU baseball history. Baseball National Championship gear, photos, DVD's and auction items are now available through LSU Athletics' family of websites. The LSU baseball team captured its sixth College World Series championship and its first since 2000.

LSUshop.net - Exclusive official merchandise and apparel

LSUpix.net - Photo prints of your favorite players and plays in the College World Series and throughout the season.

LSUauction.net - Unique items up for bid, including the last of the opening night at new Alex Box Stadium bases -- this one autographed by the starting lineup from that game.

LSUdvd.net - Pre-order a DVD of the Tigers' championship game victory over Texas.

9:46 p.m.
We're going to the bottom of the ninth, and Mainieri gives LeMahieu, Ochinko and Mitchell a final curtain call before replacing them in the field with seniors Nicholas Pontiff (left), Chris McGhee (second base) and Buzzy Haydel (first base).

9:24 p.m.
LSU's Louis Coleman on to pitch in the bottom of the eighth after the Tigers add a run in the top half. Nola led off with a double to right then scored on a sacrifice fly by Schimpf. LSU leads 10-4.

8:54 p.m.
After 119 pitches, Ranaudo got the first out of the bottom of the sixth and is lifted for LHP Chad Jones. Jones to face Belt and Moldenhauer. A safety on the LSU football team, Jones looked like he intercepted a pass for a touchdown after striking out both Longhorns looking. He ran off the field and bumped chests with Buzzy Haydel (maybe it was Buzzy's chin instead of his chest).

8:43 p.m.
LSU was able to chase Workman and get to the rest of the Texas bullpen with a five-run sixth inning.

After three innings and two batters in the sixth, Workman left when Mitchell worked his way back from an 0-2 count to walk, then advanced on a passed ball that hit Rupp in the facemask. Mitchell easily scored on a double to right-center by Mahtook. The Tigers put runners on the corners with no outs when Texas reliever Austin Dicharry threw wide of first base on Gibbs' sacrifice bunt.

A sacrifice fly by Helenihi to deep left scored Mahtook and gave LSU a 6-4 lead. After a hit-and-run groundout by Nola moved Gibbs to second, the LSU catcher advanced to third on a wild pitch. LeMahieu was walked on four pitches, and Texas pulled Dicharry to allow lefty all-American Austin Wood to face lefty Schimpf.

Wood hit both Schimpf and then Dean with the bases load to score Gibbs. Ochinko pulled the next pitch through the left side to drive in LeMahieu and Schimpf and give LSU a 9-4 lead.

Ranaudo is out for more.

8:11 p.m.
Rupp singled up the middle on an 0-2 pitch, then Keyes tied the game with a home run to left-center field. Ranaudo survived the inning with a strikeout and two popouts.

Workman out for his fourth inning, as the tall righty has retired nine-straight Tigers.

It's tied at 4-4, and we'll play a four-inning game (or more) for the national championship.

Between innings, Texas right fielder Keyes cramped up on the way out and had to be stretched on the outfield grass.

7:54 p.m.
Workman retires Schimpf, Dean and Ochinko on seven pitches, and we'll quickly go to the bottom of the fifth. Ranaudo back on the mound and no action yet in the Tigers bullpen. Ranaudo typically gets stronger as the game goes on -- let's hope.

7:49 p.m.
Ranaudo grinds through another inning of work, overcoming a one-out base hit by Tucker. Ranaudo's thrown 88 pitches.

Austin Wood is warming for Texas, as Workman comes out for his third inning.

7:35 p.m.
Texas got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third when Tucker doubled to the left field corner and Belt walked. The key play of the inning was a double steal by the pair, as Tucker scored on a ground ball to Nola that may have been a inning-ending double play.

Ranaudo walked three straight to drive in Belt before getting No. 9 hitter Loy to groundout to Nola -- who slid face first to tag second base for the force out.

Texas left the bases loaded for the second time.

LSU leads 4-2 going to the fourth. However, Ranaudo's pitch count is becoming an issue for the Tigers. The 6-foot-7 righty has thrown 77 pitches including 43 in that inning.

7:07 p.m.
Workman allowed a single to Ochinko, but fanned Mahtook and Gibbs after a Mitchell popout to end the inning.

6:57 p.m.
Ranaudo puts another zero on the scoreboard in the second. He allowed a leadoff single to Rowe before getting three popfly outs.

Texas lifted Green (2 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO) and brought in Brandon Workman, who pitched against the Tigers in game 1. On Monday, Workman took the loss after allowing Mahtook's RBI single in the 11th. He worked 1.2 innings and allowed one run on one hits with two walks and two strikeouts.

6:48 p.m.
Schimpf hits an RBI single up the middle to drive in Gibbs and break out of a mini-slump and give the Tigers a 4-0 lead going to the bottom of the second. Gibbs singled through the right side then moved to third on a ground ball by Helenihi and an infield single by LeMahieu.

6:36 p.m.
With a pair of singles and a walk, Texas loaded the bases with two outs in the first. Ranaudo was just missing the strike zone and fell behind Moldenhauer and Rupp, 3-1, to get into the jam. He struckout Keyes on a high fastball to end the threat and bring the gold jerseys out of the dugout to greet Ranaudo.

6:19 p.m.
Writers are typing frantically on laptops in the press box as Jared Mitchell just gave LSU a 3-0 lead with a huge homer down the right field line. Just as football coach Les Miles arrived and sat down in Rosenblatt Stadium. With two outs, Mitchell lined a 2-2 offering from Green just inside the fair pole. The ball hit the walkway between the main grandstand and the outfield bleachers.

Earlier in the inning, Dean was hit in the toe by a pitch and Ochinko -- who was inserted and moved up to No. 4 in the batting order -- singled through the left side.

Here comes Ranaudo to the mound.

6:08 p.m.
Walked down to the seating level to visit a good friend who flew in this afternoon. He was so upset about last night's loss that he bought an airline ticket and two game 3 tickets online to be in Omaha.

It's not nearly as hot today as it was on Monday or Tuesday (before the storm). The crowd is late-arriving, maybe due to the forecast of afternoon showers. Thousands of fans in the outfield general admission seats were sun-soaked, then just plain soaked by the start of yesterday's game.

The umpires are at home plate, we've had the national anthem and we're waiting for ESPN to give us the green light. Ranaudo is warming in the LSU bullpen and Texas is taking the infield.

Play ball!

4:56 p.m.
Today's lineup:

LSU (55-17)
1. DJ LeMahieu, 2B
2. Ryan Schimpf, LF
3. Blake Dean, DH
4. Sean Ochinko, 1B
5. Jared Mitchell, RF
6. Mikie Mahtook, CF
7. Micah Gibbs, C
8. Derek Helenihi, 3B
9. Austin Nola, SS
Anthony Ranaudo, P

Texas (50-15-1)
1. Michael Torres, 3B
2. Travis Tucker, 2B
3. Brandon Belt, 1B
4. Russell Moldenhauer, DH
5. Cameron Rupp, C
6. Kevin Keyes, RF
7. Connor Rowe, CF
8. Preston Clark, LF
9. Brandon Loy, SS
Cole Green, P

4:40 p.m.
Bill Martin
Associate Sports Information Director

Does it get any bigger than this? One game to decide the national champion of college baseball. Winner take all. This will be the fourth time the College World Series champion has been decided in a third game.

Last season, Fresno State stunned Georgia, 6-1. Oregon State lost the first game of the 2006 series before responding with two victories against North Carolina en route to its first title. In 2003, the first year of the new format, Rice won the rubber game against Stanford, 14-2.

LSU in an unblemished 7-0 in winner-take-all games in all sports to decide a national champion. The Tiger baseball team is 5-0, and the LSU football team is 2-0. Sophomore pitcher Anthony Ranaudo can set the tone and keep that mark perfect when he takes the mound tonight in the biggest start of his career.

Let’s take a look at the starting pitchers:

LSU So. RH Anthony Ranaudo (11-3, 2.87 ERA, 119.0 IP, 45 BB, 155 SO)
- Makes his team-high 19th start of the season and third of the College World Series
- Is just eight strikeouts shy of setting the LSU single-season record ... He is currently sixth, three shy of Doug Thompson (1997) for second and seven shy of Ben McDonald (1989), who owns the record with 202 ... McDonald did it in 152.1 innings that season while Ranaudo has only tossed 119.0 to this point
- In the entire NCAA Tournament, Ranaudo owns a perfect 3-0 mark to go with a stellar 1.38 ERA in 26.0 innings pitched ... He’s fanned 31 batters, walked seven while opponents are hitting only .181 against him
- LSU will be wearing gold again tonight, the choice of Ranaudo when he pitches
 
Texas So. RH Cole Green (5-3, 3.07 ERA, 108.1 IP, 34 BB, 84 SO)
- Makes his team-high 20th start of the year and third of the College World Series
- For the entire NCAA Tournament, Green is 1-1 with a 2.93 ERA in 27.2 innings pitched ... For the season, opponents are batting .235 against him and .238 in the postseason
- Started against Southern Miss in the Longhorns CWS opener, working seven innings and allowing three runs on six hits with one walk and eight strikeouts
- His other start came against Arizona State five days ago and received a no decision ... Scattered eight hits and only gave up two runs in six innings of work with three walks and six Ks

Trivia Question: When was the last time an LSU team won the national championship as the visiting team?
A: The only time that has occurred was 1991 when the Tigers topped Wichita State, 6-3, for their first national title. LSU will be the visitors tonight and occupying the first base dugout.

It should be an unbelievable atmosphere here at Rosenblatt tonight. Regardless of what happens, a tip of the cap to both teams. This LSU baseball team has been a joy to watch. Tonight, this group of guys plays their final game together hoping to put the finishing touches on the season in a way that’s only perfect – a national championship.

Quote of the Day
“Somebody is going to be a legend (today), and hopefully that’s us.”
-- LSU senior pitcher Nolan Cain

4:24 p.m.
We've made it to Rosenblatt Stadium for the final time (let's hope). After about 15-20 minutes of rain back at the hotel, the skies have cleared above the stadium and the sun is shining. It's 83 degrees with 79 percent humidity. The winds have calmed to almost nothing, as the flags are barely fluttering in center field. There's still a 40-percent chance of scattered thunderstorms. Sunset is 9:01 p.m. CT.

Texas is warming in the outfield.

12:48 p.m.
According to the Omaha World-Herald's graphic on the Sports page, LSU won last night! Can we have the trophy and head home? Obviously, this was a simple typo, but it would be nice to reverse the score. The World-Herald has done a great job of covering the series, and complimenting the LSU fans and team throughout the tournament. Needless to say, if they read this blog, they'd find several typos (please don't look!).

12:01 p.m.
Watch the NCAA's preview video for tonight's game:
Winner Take All
One game left to determine a champion. Will it be LSU or Texas?

10:08 a.m.
I compiled some stats this morning on LSU's success after a loss. It's been well-documented that the Tigers have only lost consecutive games once this season, but there are more impressive stats as well:

LSU's Stats After a Loss (2009)
Record:
15-1
Batting Avg.: .328
Home Runs: 33
Hits per game: 11.3
Runs per game: 9.9
ERA: 4.25
Out-scored Opponents: 158-74

If you remove LSU's 22-10 victory over Illinois and the only loss in the mix (Tennessee, 9-4, on April 19), LSU's team ERA drops to 3.48.

9:24 a.m.
I have to agree with Scott Hotard of The Advocate: the best-of-three format sucks the drama out of the championship. This isn't sour grapes. But, after Texas built a 5-1 lead in the top of the third, last night's game was as boring as a Super Bowl blowout. No one really cared that much, because they knew Jungmann was pitching his keister off and that a four-run lead would be three runs more than he needed. At least the Super Bowl crowns a champion at the end...but I guess "this is baseball."

Hotard: Best-of-three format lacks some drama
Excerpt:
...you figure the best game of this series is behind us.

Monday’s classic had everything you’d want in a championship game. It had perfect ending written all over it.

It had everything. Everything but the dog pile.

Read the full article

9:09 a.m.
The headline of the Omaha World-Herald this morning is "Texas Strikes Back." So, the thinking here at breakfast is that tomorrow's should be a pun on "Return of the Jedi."

12:56 a.m.
If there's one thing LSU did very well throughout the regular season, it was win a series after losing a game. The Tigers won 7-of-9 rubber matches in weekend series during the year, and lost back-to-back games only once. The only difference this time is that the starters are out of rotation. Ranaudo, overmatched Arkansas last Friday to put the Tigers in the championship final. Now, the sophomore righthander will take the mound for a true national championship game.

Texas will counter with Cole Green (5-3, 3.07 ERA) -- with just about it's entire pitching staff behind him.

Tuesday, June 23

11:21 p.m.
Texas forces a deciding game 3, as Jungmann throws a complete game five-hitter. Anthony Ranaudo will start tomorrow for the Tigers. Read more.

10:27 p.m.
More zeros on the board, as neither team has scored since the top of the third inning.

10:07 p.m.
Cain issued a pair of walks to open the seventh, ending a great outing for the senior. He pitched 3.1 scoreless innings, allowing three hits and three walks with four strikeouts.

RHP Daniel Bradshaw entered in relief and got Keyes to ground into a double play -- no idea why he didn't sacrifice -- and retired Rowe on a groundout to Helenihi.

9:41 p.m.
Cain found trouble in the sixth, as Clark and Tucker each singled. With two outs and a 3-1 count, he forced Belt to pop out to Nola at short to end the threat. Cain's thrown 3.1 scoreless innings.

9:21 p.m.
Cain struckout two and sat the Longhorns down in order in the fifth. The senior righty has retired 7-of-8 since giving up an RBI single to the first batter he faced in the three-run third.LSU needs to take his momentum to the plate in the bottom half.

9:12 p.m.
Mitchell walks to leadoff the inning for the Tigers, but again LSU is unable to take advantage of the situation. Landry grounds into a fielder's choice, barely avoiding a double play. Texas second baseman Travis Tucker makes a great stop and flip behind bag at second to turn a 4-6-3 double play on Helenihi.

9:04 p.m.
Cain allows a walk but ends the inning when Moldenhauer grounds out to short. It was the first time the Tigers have kept the Texas DH off the base path.

8:56 p.m.
LeMahieu leads off the third with a triple to right that nearly left the park. However, he was stranded there when Schimpf popped out on the infield, Dean walked, Gibbs struckout swinging and Mahtook grounded into a fielder's choice. LeMahieu's triple was his first since hitting two in the third game of the season against Villanova.

8:45 p.m.
A single to left scores Rowe and puts the Tigers behind 5-1 going to the bottom of the third.

8:39 p.m.
Texas takes a 4-1 lead and chases Byrd with a double by Rupp and a two-out RBI double Rowe.

RHP Cain takes over with a runner on second and two outs.

8:34 p.m.
Moldenhauer tags Byrd for a moster homer to right field, another solo shot, and Texas leads 3-1. His fourth homer in the CWS ties the all-time record held by nine others. It was Moldenahauer's first official at bat against a lefty all season.

Nolan Cain begins to warm for LSU.

8:28 p.m.
Speed helps the Tigers cut the lead in half in the second, as Jared Mitchell singled to left field and Landry legged out an infield single. Mitchell scored and Landry advanced to third on a fielding error by shortstop Brandon Loy.

LSU trails 2-1, and has gone to its bullpen to start the third inning. LHP Ryan Byrd takes the mound.

8:17 p.m.
Ross gets out of the second inning when he catches Torres trying to steal third base. The Longhorns put two on with two outs after a single and a catcher's interference call against Gibbs.

8:09 p.m.
With one out in the top of the second, Texas increased its lead to 2-0 when No. 8 hitter Preston Clark hit a solo shot to left field. Twelve of Texas' 51 homers have come in the CWS, including six against LSU.

8:06 p.m.
After a 1 hour, 34 minute delay, the game got underway at 7:44 p.m.

LSU fell behind in the first inning for the first time in the CWS when Ross walked leadoff batter Michael Torres on four pitches. Torres then advanced to second when catcher Micah Gibbs' throw behind the runner at first base went into right field. He scored on a single through the right side by Brandon Belt.

Texas leads 1-0 going to the second.

7:39 p.m.
Listen the coach Mainieri's pregame interview, including comments about tonight's starter, Austin Ross.

7:07 p.m.
While you're waiting for first pitch, watch pregame interviews with coaches Mainieri, Miles and Johnson on the field at Rosenblatt Stadium.

6:52 p.m.
First pitch will be 7:43 p.m. CT.

6:36 p.m.
The tarp has been pulled. As soon as we have a start time, it will be posted here.

6:11 p.m.
Heavy rain and high winds pelted Rosenblatt for about 15-20 minutes, and water is beginning to collect on the warning tracks and in certain spots on the field. However, the winds have turned around, now blowing from the southeast (right to left) and the sun has peeked through the clouds a few times. It's still raining, and it's going to take awhile to prep the field when it stops.

5:49 p.m.
Chuck Dunlap from the SEC media relations office just arrived at Rosenblatt. He said that the weather downtown (2.5 miles north of Rosenblatt) next to the team hotel was much worse than we're experiencing here. There are trees down and roads blocked. A radio weather report indicated that the temperature dropped from 98 to 74 in five minutes.

Lightning is striking around the stadium and it's still raining a little.

According to word in the press box: "We're going to play tonight..."

5:18 p.m.
The rain has made it to Rosenblatt, but unlike last Friday's Arkansas game there are blue skies on the horizon. Let's hope this doesn't last too long.

4:56 p.m.
The tarp has now been unrolled, but hasn't been dragged onto the infield. The storm is approaching from the west. Hopefully, the rain will not last long.

4:21 p.m.
Good news and bad news from Rosenblatt Stadium:

Good: head coaches Les Miles and Trent Johnson made it to Omaha, along with AD's Mark Ewing, Verge Ausberry, Michael Bonnette and Brian Broussard.

Bad: there's a severe storm cell northwest of Omaha that's building. The wind has picked up dramatically in the past 15 minutes and the temperature has fallen a bit. The grounds crew has put the tarp in position on the right field line, but has not unrolled it. They're waiting on the call. Coaches Mainieri and Gurrido are talking with NCAA officials right now about how they'll handle the situation.

2:45 p.m.
from Bill Martin
Associate Sports Information Director

It’s been nearly 10 years since Brad Cresse drove in Ryan Theriot, who tossed his helmet into the Omaha sky. Twelve years since Doug Thompson fanned Matt Frick and gave Tiger fans the lasting image of the 1997 championship. Thirteen years since Warren Morris did the unthinkable and was hoisted by his teammates after touching home plate. And 16 years since Brett Laxton proved that freshmen can pitch on this stage culminating with Harry Berrios’ final catch in the outfield.

Who will be the lasting image of 2009? On Tuesday night that can become a reality as the Tigers are just one win away from claiming a sixth baseball national championship. The talk around the hotel among fans is still about last night’s thrilling Game 1 victory. Most of us watched the ESPNU replay until 3 a.m. of the already labeled “instant classic.”

Classic it was on a muggy night that felt like regional weather at Alex Box Stadium. Players getting IVs like it was a Saturday night in September. The LSU Rosenblatt magic was rekindled in one of the three greatest LSU College World Series games ever played. It would be tough to top the 1996 LSU-Miami game, but this one ranks right behind it.

The 1993 LSU-Long Beach State game also comes to mind when Armando Rios drilled a two-run double off Gabe Gonzalez to tie the game at five apiece in the ninth. That then allowed Todd Walker to rip a walk-off single through the right side, 6-5 LSU.

D.J. LeMahieu will forever go into LSU lore for his clutch two-out, two-run double into the left field corner. With Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry on hand, he must have liked what he saw from his second round pick – a homer to the deepest part of the ballpark and the game-tying double.

It later set the scene for Mike Mahtook, who ripped a curve ball up the middle for the game-winning hit. Mahtook’s single symbolizes what this team has been all about these past two seasons. Here’s a guy that strikes out badly in his first three at-bats and then grounds into a double play to end the eighth inning.

Not getting his head down, he just kept at it. The freshman slaps a single to right in the 10th and knocks in the game-winning run an inning later. Resilient. Never say die. Find whatever synonym you want to put here, but its teams like this that ultimately win championships.  

The player’s have since turned their attention to tonight’s game. There is still work to be done.

***

Matty Ott’s performance was brilliant, but lost in the shuffle was how excellent the entire bullpen threw when Louis Coleman exited in the seventh. Five innings of no-hit, no-run ball. Ott’s three innings tied a season-high and were the most he has gone since March 22 at South Carolina. 

***

With the win last night, LSU reached the 55-win plateau. It represents the most wins since the 1997 team claimed a school record 57 victories. The Tigers’ win streak is now at 14 games and should they win tonight, a 15-game win streak will be the longest to close a season in school history. LSU also improved to 6-0 in CWS championship round history. Texas was 39-0 when leading after eight innings. Meanwhile, LSU improved to 12-3 in one-run games.

***

Time to head back to Rosenblatt, and we will give you an update on the pitching matchups and other happenings. Mainieri announced that right-hander Austin Ross will start for LSU. The Tigers will follow the same routine they did yesterday prior to heading to the stadium. 27 outs from a championship. Good afternoon from Omaha.

Quote of the Day
"That was probably the most courageous, never-say-die, just resilient effort that I’ve ever seen out of one my teams in 27 years of coaching. Now we get to play for the national championship. Wow! Those are pretty cool words.”
-- LSU head coach Paul Mainieri

12:56 p.m.
A little while ago, coach Mainieri announced that Austin Ross will start tonight. Read more.

10:37 a.m.
Here's a video preview from the NCAA for tonight's game.

9:15 a.m.
LSU football coach Les Miles and men's basketball coach Trent Johnson are leaving Baton Rouge around 11 a.m. for Omaha. Both are great supporters of the baseball program, and love the game. If you haven't been following @LSUCoachMiles on Twitter, it's a good time to start. He's certainly enjoying the opportunity to watch two-sport student-athletes Jared Mitchell and Chad Jones.

Of course, we've been updating @LSUsports on Twitter on a daily basis, and facebook.com/LSUsports has topped 12,000 fans on Facebook. Join the social network craze today!

9:07 a.m.
The headline of the Omaha World-Herald is "One to geaux." Very nice.

8:57 a.m.
Wow! What a game last night. We stayed up until about 2 a.m. (or whenever the local Taco Bell closed) watching the ESPN replay -- which ESPNU aired as an "Instant Classic."

In the radio booth after the game, Bill Franques called it the best game in school history besides the Warren Morris walk-off homer to beat Miami for the title here in 1996. The game had everything baseball fans love: homers, lead changes, coaching moves and counter moves, pinch runners and hitters, extra innings, drama and more drama. It was awesome to be a part of it.

As we were reminded by coach Paul Mainieri in the postgame press conference, LSU wasn't playing for a national championship last night. But, they are now -- and much of the credit goes to Mainieri and his staff who outcoached the game's all-time winningest coach.

Mainieri made perfect pitching moves:
- Bringing in lefty Chad Jones may have been the key to the game. Texas completely lost it's momentum when the strong safety took the mound -- especially when he blitzed from the far side of the mound to cover first base, and showed off his awesome speed and agility.
- Sending Jones to the mound to start the eighth and face lefty DH Russell Moldenhauer (3-for-3, 2 HR). This "forced" Texas to pinch hit for its clean-up hitter who had punished the Tigers for two solo homers.
- Bringing in RHP Paul Bertuccini to replace Jones after the pinch hitter was announced. Not only did Texas lose Moldenhauer, but they were forced to burn 47-game starter Tant Shepherd before he even saw a pitch. Texas sent Kevin Lusson to the plate, and he drew a walk before Bertuccini got three straight outs to end the threat.
- Sending RHP Matty Ott to the mound in a tie game in the ninth -- and letting him pitch three innings. Though this may have been a little more obvious, using Ott against a team that hit five homers off Louis Coleman fastballs was a little bit of a risk. Three shutout innings later, it was perfect.

In his postgame press conference, Mainieri was completely honest last night when he said he wasn't sure who he'd start today. And, that decision may define the 2009 season. Does he bring Anthony Ranaudo back on three-plus days rest -- which the sophomore has never done at LSU? Or, does he throw No. 3 starter Austin Ross and save Ranaudo for relief or the "if necessary" game? We'll find out soon. And, when I know, you'll know.

Monday, June 22

10:29 p.m.
Ott closes down the Longhorns in the 10th, and the Tigers win!! One game away from a sixth national championship. Read More.

10:13 p.m.
LSU takes its first lead since the third inning when Mahtook singled up the middle to drive in LaMahieu in the top of the 11th. The Tigers lead 7-6 going to the bottom, with Ott coming out for his third inning of work.

9:58 p.m.
Ott walked Rupp with two outs, but struckout Kyle Lusson to end the 10th. Going to the 11th, Workman returns to the mound.

9:49 p.m.
After walking Gibbs on three pitches to start the 10th, Texas reliever Austin Dicharry had a broken belt -- so we waited a minute while they brought out a spare. When play resumed, Mahtook through the right side. Gibbs advanced to third when Mitchell flew out to right field and Landry was intentionally walked after a wild pitch moved Mahtook to second.

With the bases loaded and one out, Texas brought in its flamethrower, RHP Brandon Workman, to face Helenihi (0-3, BB).

Workman, whose third pitch clocked 97 mph, struckout Helenihi and Hanover to end the threat.

Ott returns to pitch the 10th.

9:28 p.m.
Ott overcomes a hit batter to force extra innings! The All-American LSU closer threw 15 pitches.

9:19 p.m.
With one out in the top of the ninth, Sean Ochinko singled. Leon Landry pinch ran and moved to second on a walk by Helenihi. After pinch hitter Tyler Hanover struckout on a 3-2 pitch, LeMahieu lined a two-RBI double down the left field line to tie the game, 6-6.

Matty Ott enters to pitch the bottom of the ninth for LSU.

8:45 p.m.
Texas head coach Augie Gurrido pinch hits Tant Sheperd for Moldenhauer, prompting Mainieri to pull Jones in favor of RHP Bertuccini. Then, Gurrido pulls Shepherd before the first pitch to bring lefty Kevin Lusson to the plate. The gamesmanship pays off for Texas in the short term, as Lusson walks on a 3-2 pitch. However, Bertuccini throws seven-straight strikes to retire the side.

Wood out to pitch the ninth for Texas, with starter Taylor Jungmann standing in the bullpen if needed.

8:42 p.m.
The Tigers are down to three outs, as Wood walks Dean but erases the runner when Mahtook grounded into a double play.

Jones returns to the mound for LSU at will face at least the leadoff man in the eighth, Moldenhauer, who has hit two solo homers and is 3-for-3.

8:34 p.m.
Jones throws eight pitches, gets three outs, and we're going to the eighth with LSU trailing 6-4.

8:30 p.m.
After giving up his fifth solo homer of the day -- this one by No. 9 hitter Connor Rowe -- Coleman is relieved by Jones. Coleman (6 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 0 BB, 6 K) didn't finish his LSU career as he expected. He threw 94 pitches.

LSU trails 6-4.

8:20 p.m.
With two outs, LeMahieu hits a 2-2 pitch from Wood over the center field fence. The 408+ foot homer was the Tiger second baseman's first since May 8. Texas leads 5-4.

Coleman out to work the seventh with Chad Jones and Paul Bertuccini warming.

8:13 p.m.
The tie game was short lived, as Moldenhauer hit another solo homer to give Texas a 4-3 lead. After a single by Keyes and a double by Loy, Coleman threw a wild pitch that appeared to hit Clark in the back. It was ruled a wild pitch and Keyes scored to give Texas a 5-3 lead through six innings.

Austin Ross and Daniel Bradshaw are warming for LSU.

7:55 p.m.
Consecutive singles by Dean and Gibbs gave the Tigers runners on the corners with one out, but Mahtook struckout for the third time in as many at bats. Ruffin (5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 10 K) tied his season-high for strikeouts.

Texas went to the bullpen and brought in All-American LHP Austin Wood to face Mitchell, a lefty.

The LSU first-round draft pick drilled a two-RBI triple to left-center field to tie the game at 3-3. Possibly the biggest hit in Mitchell's career.

7:37 p.m.
Texas got a two-out single by leadoff hitter Torres, but Coleman struckout two in the inning to put a zero on the board.

7:29 p.m.
Ruffin gives the Tigers an opening for the first time by walking Ochinko on a 3-2 pitch to leadoff the fifth. The righty worked out of the situation by getting Helenihi and Nola to popout before LeMahieu struckout swinging to end the inning.

Ruffin's thrown 69 pitches through five, and righthander Austin Dicharry begins to warm in the Texas bullpen.

Coleman's out for the fifth. He's thrown 50 pitches, three of which have left the yard.

7:16 p.m.
Coleman throws a first-pitch strike to open the fourth inning. On the next pitch, Tucker ties the game with a solor homer to left field. With one out, Moldenbauder blasted a huge solo homer over the center field fence and off the Virginia flag pole. Then, with two outs, Keyes blasts a third solo shot of the inning to left-center field.

Coleman has now given up 19 homers this season.

Texas leads 3-1. All runs in the game have come via homers.

7:08 p.m.
LSU goes down in order in the fourth, as Ruffin struckout Gibbs and Mahtook. Ruffin has seven strikeouts in 15 batters. Coleman out for his fourth inning of work, and he's hoping that the strike zone isn't so tight.

6:56 p.m.
Coleman's thrown first-pitch balls to 8-of-10 batters he's faced. The other two hit the first pitch in play. However, his defense is backing him up well and the Longhorns are hitting hard outs right at the Tigers.

NOTE: In the first inning, Schimpf became the first LSU player since Brad Hawpe in 2000 to hit three CWS homers. The record is four, set by nine players including former Tigers catcher Gary Hymel in 1991 (four games).

6:52p.m.
In an ironic turn of events, Mainieri uses "small ball" in an effort to increase the lead. After Nola singled to leadoff the inning, No. 1 hitter DJ LeMahieu laid down his third sacrifice bunt of the season. However, Schimpf and Dean weren't able to drive him home. Still a 1-0 LSU lead.

6:46 p.m.
Coleman's having a trouble getting ahead of hitters, but he ends the second inning with three straight strikes for his first K of the game. He gave up a leadoff single to DH Moldenhauer. Rather than going to "small ball," Texas elected to hit away. It didn't work for the Horns.

6:37 p.m.
A one-out single up the middle by Jared Mitchell is all LSU can muster in the second. Ruffin's thrown 31 pitches and has four strikeouts through eight batters. But, it's his first time through the order. The next inning or two will be key for the Tigers bats.

6:24 p.m.
Coleman cruises through the first with 12 pitches. Two pop flys and a groundout to Helenihi at third.

6:13 p.m.
Ryan Schimpf pounds a solo homer over the right field fence, his 22nd of the year and his third in this College World Series. It was LSU's 10th homer in the CWS. LSU leads 1-0 after four pitches from Ruffin. The sophomore righthander from Austin lasted only two innings in a comeback win in the winner's bracket game against Arizona State last Tuesday.

6:08 p.m.
First pitch: 6:10 p.m. The Longhorns are taking the field. There are six umpires on the field for the first time including umps on the left and right field lines. Ruffin takes the mound for Texas (10-2, 3.27 ERA, 118.1 IP, 24 BB, 104 K).

5:49 p.m.
The LSU Sports Radio Network broadcast is on the air and available online for free in the Geaux Zone. Listen to the Voice of the Tigers Jim Hawthorne along with Bill Franques as the Tigers face Texas for the national championship.

5:38 p.m.
LSU is taking infield right now. The Tigers, tonight's visiting team based on a coin toss, are wearing Coleman's favorite uniforms: purple jerseys, white pants and purple caps. Texas is wearing it's home white jerseys, pants and caps with burnt orange brims. The Longhorns wear sleeveless tops with orange sleeves beneath.

5:07 p.m.
Coach Mainieri made his way to the outfield fence to high-five LSU fans who waited hours to watch the game. It's still HOT (maybe not as bad as Baton Rouge). The grandstand is beginning to shade some of the seating behind home plate, but the outfield won't get much relief until the sun goes down around 9 p.m.

4:51 p.m.
Today's Starting Lineups

LSU (54-16)
1. DJ LeMahieu, SS
2. Ryan Schimpf, LF
3. Blake Dean, DH
4. Micah Gibbs, C
5. Mikie Mahtook, CF
6. Jared Mitchell, RF
7. Sean Ochinko, 1B
8. Derek Helenihi, 3B
9. Austin Nola, SS
Louis Coleman, RHP

Texas (49-14-1)
1. Michael Torres, 3B
2. Travis Tucker, 2B
3. Brandon Belt, 1B
4. Russell Moldenhauer, DH
5. Cameron Rupp, C
6. Kevin Keyes, RF
7. Brandon Loy, SS
8. Preston Clark, LF
9. Connor Rowe, CF
Chance Ruffin, RHP

3:19 p.m.
From my room, I'm watching the team load the bus outside the Embassy Suites in Omaha. Less conspicuous are the two guys from the LSU Athletics Ticket Office, who took a different exit than the team because they're carrying a good portion of the highly prized tickets to tonight's game....strange that no one was cheering them.

1:17 p.m.
I've heard that it's really hot back home in Baton Rouge. But, it's also pretty darn hot here -- not a cloud in the sky (for now) and supposed to be 97. I made my first stop at Zesto's, a famous CWS ice cream shop across the street from Rosenblatt Stadium. Had a medium raspberry shake ($3.75) and it was as good as advertised.

There are a lot of LSU and Texas fans already gathering around the stadium, including hundreds standing in line for general admission seating in the outfield. Cheers to those fans who will wait in the heat all day to support their team.

11:57 a.m.
Bill Martin
Associate Sports Information Director

“When it all comes down to the final round I'll be right here on this hill. Yeah me and the boys going to make some noise and give this crowd a thrill. So raise that flag. Sing the song. And throw me out a brand new ball. Yeah there’s no place I'd rather be than Back Home in Omaha.”

LSU can take one step closer back to the pinnacle of college baseball when the Tigers meet the Texas Longhorns tonight in Game 1 of the College World Series championship at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN HD.

But as head coach Paul Mainieri put it, “we can’t win a national championship tonight.” The old winner-take-all format turned into the best-of-three series in 2003. This will be LSU’s first time in the new format, and the Tigers plan to treat it like a three-game weekend series.

Teams who have won the first game of the series have gone on to win the national championship four out of six times. Oregon State lost its first game against North Carolina in 2006 before going on to win the next two. And everyone should remember last year when Fresno State stunned Georgia with two straight victories after losing Game 1 to the Bulldogs.

***
Could there be more of a storybook finish to Louis Coleman’s career? The only right way for him to go out is with a win tonight and a national championship. Think about all that Coleman has been through during his career. He emerged as a starter as a freshman, lost his spot in the rotation as a sophomore, worked his way back to form with new mechanics as a junior and as a senior has become one of the most dominant pitchers in school history. 

He is the epitome of what it means to overcome adversity and be resilient. Tonight, Coleman makes his 36th and final start of his career in a Tiger uniform. He seeks to become LSU’s first 15-game winner in a season since Brian Tallet won 15 games in 2000, the year of the Tigers’ last title.

Coleman could finish his career with a 30-12 record, which would tie him for fifth place in school history. He would join Pat Moock (1972-75), Chad Ogea (1989-91) and Mike Sirotka (1990-93). Over the past two seasons, Coleman is an amazing 22-3.

***
It’s a matchup of heavyweights in the title series. Officials at ESPN say this could be the most watched CWS Championship Series in the network’s history. LSU and Texas have so much tradition, but the two haven’t met since 2000 when the Tigers blasted the Longhorns, 13-5, in the opening game.

This is the first major matchup of LSU and Texas in any sport since the Tigers stunned the Longhorns in the men’s basketball regional final to advance to the 2006 Final Four.

***
Chad Jones and Jared Mitchell have a chance to become only the second and third Tigers to win a national championship in two different sports. Both were a part of the LSU’s 2007 BCS national championship. They will try to accomplish something only Bennie Brazell did. Brazell was a member of LSU’s 2003 BCS title team while also serving as a standout sprinter on the Tigers’ 2002 outdoor and 2004 indoor track and field team.

Check out this link for more of the success of Jones and Mitchell and how head coach Les Miles fully supports the two playing both sports.

***

No one in Omaha is hitting the ball as well as Ryan Schimpf is. In LSU’s three CWS games, he is batting .545 (6-for-11) with two doubles, two homers, four RBI and a slugging percentage of 1.273. He is LSU’s leading hitter in the entire NCAA Tournament hitting .484 (15-for-31) with four homers, 11 RBI and 13 runs in eight games.

As a team, LSU is batting .351 for the entire NCAA Tournament and .368 for the College World Series. The Tigers have racked up 32 runs in their first three games. It is the most in a three-game CWS stretch since the 1991 team scored 42 in the first three games against Florida (twice) and Fresno State. Special thanks to student SID Chad Vignes for this note.

***

There is a great story written by David Albright on ESPN.com today, chronicling how valuable Micah Gibbs has been to the team and the pitching staff since his arrival at LSU. Says Mainieri, “You can say all you want about [Louis] Coleman and [Anthony] Ranaudo and [Blake] Dean and everybody else, but to me, Micah Gibbs is our most valuable player.”

***

The Tigers put their 13-game win streak on the line tonight and ultimately it would be nice to end the season on a 15-game streak. It currently ties for the longest streak to end a season since the 2000 team won its final 13 games en route to the national title. LSU’s remarkable winning streaks the past two seasons have given the Tigers an 80-19 record since April 22 of last season.

***

Sophomore right-hander Chance Ruffin (10-2, 3.27 ERA, 118.1 IP, 24 BB, 104 SO) gets the start for Texas on the mound in Game 1. His father is former Major League pitcher Bruce Ruffin, who played 12 seasons for the Phillies, Brewers and Rockies. Ruffin’s father was also a member of Texas’ 1983 baseball championship team.

Ruffin is 1-0 with a 5.00 ERA in 18.0 innings pitched in the NCAA Tournament. Ruffin started against Arizona State on June 16, falling into a 6-0 hole and being lifted in the third inning. He allowed six runs – four earned – on seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts.

As a team, Texas is only hitting .286 in the NCAA Tournament. However, when you get this far and reach the championship series, you can throw out the numbers. The Longhorns are as resilient a team here and have found ways to win all tournament, which is all that matters.

***

Who could forget bus driver “Big Jim” Williams? He served as the Tigers’ bus driver in 1993, 1996, 1997 and 2000 and has been at the wheel the past two weeks for LSU.  Hopefully, he will provide the same luck he did for those teams.

The Tigers will board his bus at 3:30 p.m. at the Embassy Suites and then make the two-mile trek down 13th street to Rosenblatt Stadium, which is sure to be a sea of purple and gold. LSU will finally get to take batting practice on the field prior to a game.
 
***

The anticipation is building. You can feel the excitement in the air anytime you play for a national championship. Most of us are passing the time by watching the dramatic completion of the U.S. Open. We will see you tonight from the press box of Rosenblatt Stadium. Good afternoon from Omaha.

Quotes of the Day
"I have never lacked for self-confidence. That's something that I preach to our players, our staff and our fans. Skip (Bertman) believed in that as well. Self-confidence is what has allowed me to follow him."
-- LSU head coach Paul Mainieri

“Move over, Augie. There's a new face looking to sit at the head table of the College World Series. His name is Paul Mainieri. He's the baseball coach at LSU. He's friendly, likeable, the kind of guy who would blend in at any tailgate or restaurant. And he's got his team in the championship series of the 2009 CWS. Don't look now, but here comes the next mayor of the CWS.”
-- Tom Shantel, Omaha World-Herald

10:46 a.m.
Here's a video preview of the championship series produced by the NCAA.

10:40 a.m.
We've added a couple of really cool items to www.LSUauction.net: The second of two bases from opening night of Alex Box Stadium; this one is autographed by the starting lineup from Feb. 20. The third base will not be auctioned, as it is headed to the LSU Athletics Hall of Fame.

Also, five more exclusive game-used inaugural season at Alex Box Stadium baseballs are now available. There are only 10 left.

Place your bid for a piece of LSU history now!

8:26 a.m.
LSU's game notes for game 1 of the championship series are now available on LSUsports.net.

8:19 a.m.
LSU Baseball fans waited for nine years for this day. The Tigers will face Texas in game 1 of the College World Series championship at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN-HD.

Here's a good article from the New York Times about head coach Paul Mainieri and his father, Demie.

L.S.U.’s Coach Follows Father in Quest for Title
Excerpt:
Of his son, Demie Mainieri said: “He was very secure at Notre Dame, but he said he always had an urge to coach at one of the best baseball programs in the country. He talked to Oklahoma, Mississippi State and Kentucky, but he said, ‘I want the best one.’ Then Skip hired him. He knew what he was getting into. He knows the expectations are there, and he’s not afraid of them.”
Read the article

Sunday, June 21

7:55 p.m.
from Bill Martin
Associate Sports Information Director

An estimated 600 fans turned out for the Tiger Athletic Foundation’s pep rally here at the Embassy Suites in the Old Market. The amount of fans on hand was so massive, officials had to expand the room. If tonight was any indication, Rosenblatt Stadium will feel like Alex Box Stadium on Monday night.

Head coach Paul Mainieri was introduced by Athletic Director Joe Alleva. Mainieri took the podium to a standing ovation and chants of “L-S-U, L-S-U!” He was moved by the crowd reiterating the fact that he would have regretted not taking the LSU job because of moments like this. Mainieri thanked all of the fans in attendance.

“Louisiana is the greatest state in the nation because of people like you,” he said. “Our people are so resilient and persevere through anything. Our team represents this state and every one of you.”

He asked the fans “how many of you came from Louisiana?” Nearly every single fan raised his or her hand and cheered in unison furthermore proving that LSU fans are the greatest in college baseball. Tonight, the Old Market in Omaha will be packed with Tiger fans ready for the national championship series.

***
Father’s Day Sunday in Omaha meant the final practice day of the season for the Tigers. Prior to the noon practice, LSU players Louis Coleman, Ryan Schimpf, Jared Mitchell, Blake Dean and Micah Gibbs met with Westwood One Radio, who will call the game on national/satellite radio.

Head coach Paul Mainieri, Coleman, Gibbs and Dean then joined Texas head coach Augie Garrido and players Cameron Rupp, Chance Ruffin and Michael Torres for the pre-championship press conference. Both coaches had photo opportunities with the national championship trophy that will be heading back on one of the team’s charter planes on either Wednesday or Thursday.

 "This is fun, it's great to be here,” Mainieri said. “When you get the chance to come to the College World Series, it's a dream come true. To be able to make it to this point is truly a blessing. I'm proud of this team and these guys. It's remarkable. We're excited to play Texas. They represent excellence. Augie Garrido is admired and loved in college baseball. I'm a fan of Augie. He's a wonderful person, a great coach and epitomizes everything good about college athletics. I relish the opportunity to play Texas in the finals. They have great tradition and history. LSU and Texas both represent great things. I'm fired up for this game."

Coleman will make the final start of his LSU career on Monday night. He had the following to say on if he replays last year’s CWS:

"I replayed it so many different times. It's hard to lose the memory as a pitcher. I've thought about it, but when I step on the mound it is a totally different ballgame. It's a dream of every kid to be here and be one of the top two teams in the country. You couldn't ask for anything else, just to help your team win."

Mainieri wished every member of the media a happy Father’s Day and also talked about what it meant to have his father side by side with him during this incredible run:

"Father's Day puts everything in proper perspective. Having my dad here means everything to me. Growing up, all I wanted to be was a college baseball coach. My dad won a national championship in 1964, and I'd love for him to witness his son doing it. Saying that, it's not about me at all. It's about the kids and this great experience."

Tomorrow, we will have full coverage of Game 1 of the national championship series on LSUsports.net. We will take a look at the pitching matchups and breakdown the numbers. Nick Pontiff and his father, Wally Sr., will have another blog update and talk about how special it is to possibly see two of his sons win a national championship.

I’d like to wish all the dads out there a happy Father’s Day, including mine back home in Lake Charles. Growing up in Southwest Louisiana, baseball is a way of life. I am very grateful to have a father like mine who raised me the way he did and always had a love for LSU.

Like so many people here in Omaha for this event, it’s about fathers, sons and baseball. Nothing more American than that as the final scene of the great movie Field of Dreams suggests. I was fortunate to attend nearly every LSU baseball regional since 1993 with my father. In fact, the day Brad Cresse drove in Ryan Theriot for the Tigers’ last baseball championship, I was a high school senior playing summer baseball.

We are less than 24 hours from first pitch between LSU and Texas for the national championship. Good evening from Omaha.

11:49 a.m.
Watch the LSU and Texas joint press conference now.

11:32 p.m.
LSU and Texas have met 29 times in baseball history, dating back to 1899. In the "modern era" of LSU baseball (since 1984), the Tigers have a 4-7 record including 1-1 in the College World Series and 3-6 in regular-season series.

LSU's Recent History with Texas
1989, Omaha, Neb. - Loss, 12-7 *
1994, Austin, Texas - Win, 9-6
1994, Austin, Texas - Loss, 9-7
1994, Austin, Texas - Loss, 7-1
1998, Austin, Texas - Loss, 5-1
1998, Austin, Texas - Win, 12-9
1998, Austin, Texas - Loss, 7-5
1999, Baton Rouge, La. - Win, 7-5
1999, Baton Rouge, La. - Loss, 16-4
1999, Baton Rouge, La. - Loss, 10-4
2000, Omaha, Neb. - Win, 13-5 *
Texas leads all-time series 8-20-1

* College World Series

11:10 a.m.
LSU head coach Paul Mainieri received the first big laugh at the pre-championship series press conference. Mainieri mentioned that it was neat that the No. 1 national seed was facing the No. 1 ranked team in the polls.

Texas coach Augie Garrido responded, "The No. 1 seed hasn't won the tournament since something like 1999."

Mainieri rebutted, "There's no reason to break that streak now."

We'll have video from the full press conference within the hour.

6:27 a.m.

First, Happy Father's Day to all LSU Tiger dads (especially mine) and dads-to-be. It's a great day to be a Tiger.

Here's another good article about LSU's return to the top of college baseball behind head coach Paul Mainieri:

LSU's Mainieri makes fast work of rebuilding job
By: Eric Olson, Associated Press

Excerpt: (Skip) Bertman's teams of the 1990s also were known for power — the '97 club hit an NCAA-record 188 homers — but the 2009 team might be more versatile. The Tigers can go deep, but they also are adept at situational hitting and sacrificing.

More important, Bertman said, is that the Tigers have (head coach Paul) Mainieri.

"He couldn't miss," Bertman said. "He's the total package of leadership, community involvement, coaching, strategy, motivating, fund raising. He's the best coach in America."

Read the full article

Saturday, June 20

3:18 p.m.
Here are photos from the team's hospital visit taken by Steve Franz.

Also, the Tiger Athletic Foundation has announced that it will host a free rally for all Tiger fans in the Omaha area on Sunday from 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. at the Embassy Suites Downtown/Old Market on 10th St. LSU head coach Paul Mainieri will address the fans, a highlight video of the Tigers’ accomplishments in Omaha will be shown and a cash bar will be available.

9:17 a.m.
Members of the LSU baseball team will visit Children's Hospital in Omaha this morning at 11:45 before practicing at 4 p.m. at Bellevue East High School.

8:41 a.m.
According to the NCAA, Texas will be the home team for games 1 and 3, and LSU will be the home team for game 2.

1:15 a.m.
Here's another good column by Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald this morning:

Mainieri helps Tigers regain bite
An excerpt: "Dynasties take breaks in college sports. But before they can come back, they have to learn to get that edge all over again. LSU is showing this week that it may have the edge back."

Friday, June 19

11:30 p.m.
Texas hit two solo homers in the bottom of the ninth to overcome a 3-2 deficit and eliminate Arizona State late Friday night. LSU will face the Longhorns on Monday at 6 p.m. in game 1 of the championship series.

7:43 p.m.
Next up for the Tigers, Mainieri and select players will meet with ESPN on Saturday and then take part in a pre-championship series on Sunday at 11 a.m. Check back often for updates.

7:05 p.m.
For those interested, the Texas vs. Arizona St. game will start at 7:48 p.m. tonight.

7:00 p.m.
Matty Ott gave up a three-run homer in the ninth, but it was too little, too late for the Hogs. LSU advances to its first CWS Championship Series, 14-5. Read more

6:36 p.m.
LSU added three more runs in the top of the ninth, as Tyler Hanover hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer to left field and pinch hitter Chad Jones added an RBI single to right. LSU leads 14-2.

If this margin holds up, it would be the largest in LSU's College World Series history. The Tigers beat Florida 19-8 in 1991.

6:04 p.m.
Arkansas gets on the scoreboard with a two-run homer by Brett Eibner in the bottom of the seventh off Ross.

LHP Ryan Byrd is warming as the inning comes to an end with LSU leading 11-2. 

5:57 p.m.
The Hogs went through four pitchers in the seventh, as Sam Murphy entered after a wild pitch from Scott Limocker scored Mahtook from third. Pinch hitter Tyler Hanover drove in Ochinko with a double off Murphy for an 11-0 lead. After a walk to Nola, LeMahieu nearly hits LSU pitcher Austin Ross in the Tigers bullpen. Later in the at bat, LeMahieu grounded into a 1-2-3 double play to end the inning. LSU leads 11-0, and Ross will take the mound in the bottom of the seventh.

Coach Paul Mainieri's got to be loving the situation, considering Ranaudo only threw 78 pitches. If the Tigers win, they would get two more days off before the championship series. We'd have to assume that Coleman would pitch game 1, then Ranaudo, then Ross....but there's still a long way to go.

5:40 p.m.
LSU sends former Tigers pitcher TJ Forrest to the showers after 1.1 innings of work. A walk to Dean and a fielding error by Forrest allowed Gibbs to reach base. Mahtook's single to right drove in Dean. RHP Justin Wells entered in relief, but left two pitches later after giving up an RBI double down to left field line to Ochinko. LSU led 9-0.

There's only one out in the seventh, and LSU's posted three run so far.

5:30 p.m.
Schimpf hits another solo blast to right field, his 21st homer of the year. LSU leads 7-0 in the seventh. It was Schimpf's fourth homer in NCAA postseason play and second in the CWS.

5:20 p.m.
Jared Mitchell adds a solo homer in the sixth for a 6-0 LSU lead. In the bottom of the sixth, Ranaudo mows down the Hogs in order. The Tigers are cruising, so far.

5:10 p.m.
Ranaudo continues to dominate the Razorbacks. He's thrown only 16 balls to 19 batters faced. Amazing. Only 63 pitches through five innings.

5:01 p.m.
Blake Dean crushes the first pitch from Bolsinger over the right-field fence to give LSU a 5-0 lead in the fifth.

4:40 p.m.
Ranaudo records his fourth strikeout of the game to end a 1-2-3 fourth innings. He's thrown 53 pitches through four innings.

4:28 p.m.
LSU chased Arkansas closer-turned-starter after two innings and three batters, as the Tigers loaded the bases in the third with a single by Austin Nola, a walk to DJ LeMahieu and a single by Ryan Schimpf. Arkansas RHP Mike Bolsinger, a long reliever, entered.

With no outs, Dean drove in Nola with grounder to first and reached base on a fielding error by Jacob House. A sacrifice fly by Mikie Mahtook scored LeMahieu and gave LSU a 3-0 lead. Schimpf scored when ball four to Sean Ochinko sailed over the catcher's head.

LSU leads 4-0.

3:46 p.m.
A pair of two-out hits gives LSU the game's first run. Blake Dean doubled down the right field line, then scored on a single up the middle by Micah Gibbs. Gibbs is 6-of-11 with three RBI in the CWS. Before the rally, Arkansas starter Stephen Richards had struckout the previous five Tigers he had faced. Spencer struckout three in the final game of the regular-season series.

LSU leads 1-0.

3:24 p.m.
Both teams have completed their infield sessions, and the sun is shining now. The coaches are exchanging lineup cards, and we're ready for the national anthem.

2:49 p.m.
The teams are stretching on the outfield grass, while the grounds crew preps the infield. The game will still be on ESPN2-HD at 3:38 p.m. CT. LSU is wearing its gold jerseys with white pants and purple caps, while Arkansas is wearing red jerseys and caps with white pants.

The crowd is beginning to pour into Rosenblatt Stadium again.

Though the 2 1/2 hour delay wasn't fun for the teams and fans involved, I wouldn't want to be Texas or Arizona State right now. They were scheduled to play at 6 p.m., however, it will be around 8 p.m. before their first pitch.

2:45 p.m.
The grounds crew is pulling the tarp.

2:36 p.m.
The NCAA has announced first pitch will be at 3:38 p.m., though it's still drizzling a bit.

1:48 p.m.
from Bill Martin
Associate Sports Information Director

The blog crew is watching the U.S. Open in the press box here while we wait out the rain delay (Photos). Good to see fellow LSU Tiger David Toms in red figures at 1-under through 14 holes. It was in this same press box last year during the LSU-North Carolina game when Tiger Woods drained his playoff-forcing putt that had people cheering like it was the media tent at the U.S. Open.

While we wait for the tarp to be removed, let’s take a closer look at the starting pitchers for today’s game:

LSU So. RH Anthony Ranaudo (10-3, 3.03 ERA, 113.0 IP, 45 BB, 150 SO)
- Ranaudo heads into his team-high 18th start of the year with 150 strikeouts, which currently puts him a sixth-place tie in the single-season record books. He is six strikeouts away from fourth place shared by Eddie Yarnall (1996) and Russ Springer (1988). The New Jersey native could conceivably close in on second place today with a good outing. Doug Thompson (1997) holds that mark with 158 Ks en route to winning a national title. Ben McDonald (1989) holds the single-season school record with 202 punchouts.
- Ranaudo looks to fare better against the Razorbacks than when he did when the two teams met in Fayetteville earlier this season. In the first contest of that doubleheader, he was touched for five runs on five hits with three walks and seven strikeouts. LSU went onto win the next two games of the series, but Ranaudo’s five earned runs were the most he has allowed since.
- Can you name the last LSU starting pitcher who pitched the Tigers into the national championship round? Weylin Guidry actually earned the win in 0.2 innings of relief on June 15, 2000 as the Tigers eliminated Florida State, 6-3. Hunter Gomez was the starter and took a no decision after pitching well in 5.1 innings, allowing only one run on six hits.

Arkansas Jr. LH Stephen Richards (6-1, 1.80 ERA, 35.0 IP, 18 BB, 50 SO)
- Richards is making his first start of the season, and in the NCAA Tournament he owns a 10.12 ERA in just 2.2 innings pitched. For the entire season, opponents have only hit .202 against him.
- Richards’ season high in innings is 3.0, having tossed that twice with the last being in the season opener against Washington State.
- How did Richards do against LSU in the series earlier this season? Quite well actually. He hurled one inning of relief in the rubber game on May 3, but struck out all three batters he faced – Jared Mitchell, Ryan Schimpf and Blake Dean.

We will keep you posted on the weather situation here at Rosenblatt Stadium, but as of 1:45 p.m. the rap remains on the field with a light rain falling. 

1:01 p.m.
Still raining here. If I had to guess (and I've been wrong as recently as this morning), the game won't start until at least 3:30 or 4 p.m. CT as it's supposed to rain until about 2-ish. Then, add at least 80 minutes to that to get the field ready.

12:28 p.m.
We've just been told by the NCAA that the game is officially delayed. The tarp is on the field, and it just started raining again. The NCAA has also said that it'll be 80 minutes from the time the tarp is pulled until the first pitch, as it will take 30 minutes to remove the tarp and prep the field, and another 50 minutes for warm-ups. Stay tuned.

12:13 p.m.
They're putting the tarp back on the field. There's another rain cell about to hit the Omaha area.

11:49 a.m.
They're taking the tarp off the field!

11:43 a.m.
After stretching on the field with strenght and conditioning coordinator Jeremy Phillips, LSU is jogging down to the batting cages behind the left field fence. It rained off and on, but it's not raining as I write.

11:08 a.m.
They're now pulling the tarp onto the infield, as it's about to rain.

11:05 a.m.
The team has arrived at Rosenblatt Stadium and is walking into the first-base dugout at this moment. For the first time since last Thursday's practice day, the Tigers and Hogs were scheduled to take batting practice on the field. I'm not 100 percent sure why this isn't allowed until there are only four teams remaining....but I'll try to find out.

Just as I write this, the grounds crew is taking the batting cage off the field and rolling up the mats. There is a storm cell moving into the area and they thinking about covering the infield. It's overcast and much cooler today (70s rather than 90s). As I mentioned earlier, it wasn't supposed to rain until later in the afternoon. However, that may change. There's a line of showers to the west of Omaha, moving to the northwest. Looks like we might be on the southern edge of that system.

LSU is now exiting its dugout waiting to see if they are going to cover the field or begin warming. It's not raining...yet.

8:46 a.m.
The team hotel is abuzz this morning, as game time nears. I think everyone's a little anxious to get back to the stadium. It's rare that a baseball team has three full days between games. It's only the third time this season that LSU has gone so long without a game (three days between the final regular-season game against MSU and the SEC Tournament; four days between the Arkansas and Florida series).

The weather today should be perfect for baseball! Partly cloudy with highs in the low 80s, and a slight chance of rain starting around 3 p.m.

Thursday, June 18

9:40 p.m.
It's getting close to gameday for the Tigers. There's an earlier curfew tonight than the rest of the week, because this is the first 1 p.m. start for LSU in the CWS. In about 12 hours, the team will depart for Rosenblatt Stadium.

Arkansas announced today it will start lefty Stephen Richards (6-1, 1.80 ERA). Richards threw six pitches in the ninth inning of Wednesday night's elimination-game win over Arkansas and gave up two hits. Also, according to the Northwest Arkansas News, Arkansas's Zack Cox will move from third to shortstop to replace Ben Tschepikow, who broke his left ringer finger in the sixth inning against Virginia. Andy Wilkins will move from first to third base and Jacob House will play first.

One more team will go home before the Tigers and Razorbacks play tomorrow, and it appears to be North Carolina. The Tar Heels led 4-0 but have allowed 11 unanswered runs. The game is in the bottom of the seventh.

3:49 p.m.

A couple more fans' questions to answer:
1) If LSU has to play on Saturday, what time will be game be played?
A: If there are two "if necessary" games on Saturday, the first (LSU-Arkansas) would be at 1 p.m., and the second (Texas vs. ASU/UNC) at 6 p.m.
If there is only one "if necessary" game on Saturday, it will be played at 6 p.m.

2) What will be the pitching rotation for remaining LSU games?
A: In a perfect world, Anthony Ranaudo will pitch against Arkansas; then Louis Coleman in game 1 of the championship series; then Austin Ross in game 2; then Ranaudo in the "if necessary" game 3.

However, in reality, your guess is as good as mine! All we know is that Ranaudo will throw on Friday afternoon against Arkansas. After that, it's all hands on deck.

3) How is the home team decided for CWS games?
A: In the opening round, the higher seed is the home team. For ensuing games, this is first determined by the number of times the teams have been already been a visiting team. The one with most times as a visiting team will be the home team. In case of a "tie," there is a coin flip. In the championship series, the team with fewer loses in the series gets the choice of home or visitor for game 1; then the opposite team gets the choice for game 2. If there is a tie, there's a coin flip. If game 3 is necessary, there's a coin flip.
For tomorrow's game, Arkansas has been the visiting team twice thus far in the CWS, while LSU has only been the visiting team once. Therefore, the Razorbacks are the home team.

4) What is the record for home runs in a CWS? Also what is LSU's highest home run record for home runs in a CWS?
A: LSU and Southern Cal hold the CWS record with 17 in 1998. However, LSU played only four games in that series, while USC played six.

After the '98 season, the NCAA changed the bat differential from 5 to 3. Bat differential is the difference between length in inches and weight in ounces.

3:28 p.m.
We're within 24 hours of LSU's winner's bracket final against Arkansas. The Tigers need one win over the Razorbacks to advance to the championship final series which begins next Monday. Should LSU fall to Arkansas on Friday afternoon, the teams would meet again on Saturday to decide the bracket winner.

Under the current CWS format -- with a best-of-three championship final -- LSU has never advanced to this game. The CWS moved away from a winner-takes-all final game in 2003. Though the Tigers played in the CWS in '03, '04 and '08, they went 0-2 twice and 1-2 last season. In '03, LSU lost to Cal St. Fullerton (8-2) and South Carolina (11-10). In '04, losses came at the hands of Miami (9-5) and South Carolina (15-4). In '08, LSU lost to North Carolina (8-4), beat Rice (6-5) and then lost to the Tar Heels again (7-3).

Another note about LSU's success in the CWS. If Arizona State loses to North Carolina tonight, LSU would move into third place on the all-time CWS winning percentage list. LSU has already passed Missouri for fourth place this trip. Here are the updated rankings:

All-time CWS Winning Percentage
Through June 17, 2009

Team (CWS Record), Pct.
1. Southern Cal. (74-26), .724
2. Minnesota (17-7), .708
3. Arizona St. (60-35), .631
4. LSU (32-19), .627
5. Missouri (18-11), .621
6. Texas (80-53), .602

5:58 a.m.
Just received the live stats link for tonight's game. LSU will be the visiting team tomorrow afternoon against Arkansas, which came back to eliminate Virginia late last night, 4-3, in 12 innings.

Wednesday, June 17

10:33 p.m.
from Bill Martin
Associate Sports Information Director

Dating back to the 1990s when Skip Bertman and the Tigers began their national championship dynasty, LSU would put together a dinner banquet at the team hotel that recognizes the players and their families. The banquet was only done if the team won its first two games in Omaha.

On Wednesday night at the Embassy Suites Hotel in the Old Market, that tradition was continued for the first time since 2000. All 25 players and most of their families, coaches, support staff and several LSU supporters took part in the two-hour celebration that featured a steak dinner in one of the hotel’s ballrooms.

Baseball SID Bill Franques served as the emcee of the event. The purpose of the night is to recognize those 25 student-athletes, the things they have accomplished to get to this point and for them to recognize their families who have sacrificed so much for them to get where they are.

David Landry and Kevin Wagner of the LSU electronic media department produced a 10-minute highlight video of the Tigers’ postseason run to this point culminating with the O.A.R. College World Series song, “This Town”. You can watch the same video from tonight’s banquet here.

The players were brought up by classes starting with the freshmen on up to the seniors. Each player introduced his family and everyone expressed his gratitude to the parents. All eight seniors were recognized – Louis Coleman, Nolan Cain, Buzzy Haydel, Chris McGhee, Derek Helenihi, Ryan Byrd, Kevin Farnsworth and Nicholas Pontiff – and the entire group received a standing ovation for what they have done.

Pontiff: “ ...My mom. And if you don’t know him you might want to check your pulse, my dad, Wally Pontiff. Thank y’all for everything. I love y’all so much. Thanks for all the sacrifices both monetary and timely that you’ve gone through throughout the years.”

Coleman: “I’m Louis Coleman. No. 29. Pitcher. Schlater, Miss. There’s probably more people in this room than in Schlater. I just want to thank the fans. Y’all have been wonderful my whole career. It’s been a blessing to be here for four years. ... Let’s go win a national championship.”

Head coach Paul Mainieri closed the evening with some final thoughts on the same night of his wife, Karen’s, birthday. A year ago the two celebrated in Omaha with the Tigers’ remarkable come-from-behind win over Rice. Tonight, as Mainieri put it, “I’d like to thank 300 of our closest friends for coming to dinner with us for Karen’s birthday.”

Mainieri praised the entire team, the senior class and said seeing those eight players up there was bittersweet in a way.

“I hopefully only have three more games left with these guys and they have meant so much to this program with everything they have accomplished and gone through. They are great representatives of LSU not only for what they’ve done on the field but off of it. ... It is just a privilege to coach these guys. They are the ones who have done it. In three years here, I haven’t fielded a groundball, taken a swing or stolen a base. They are the reason we are here tonight in Omaha, Neb.”

Since defeating Tulane on April 22 last season, this group is an amazing 79-19, but as Mainieri said, “there is unfinished business left ahead”. LSU hopes to extend its winning streak to 13 games on Friday and ultimately 15 games with the program’s sixth national title.

Two notable announcements from Mainieri on Wednesday night:
- Sophomore right-hander Anthony Ranaudo will take the ball at 1 p.m. Friday in hopes of securing the Tigers’ place in the national championship series.
- Senior infielder/pitcher Buzzy Haydel will return next season as an undergraduate volunteer assistant.

Friday’s opponent is still to be determined. As we speak, it’s pandemonium in the lobby of the hotel as Arkansas turns a miraculous double play to send this elimination game into extra innings against Virginia. That team will have to defeat LSU twice, something that has only been done once to the Tigers since late April of last season.

Tomorrow, LSU will go through its final practice prior to Friday’s game at 11 a.m. at Bellevue East High School. The Tigers then head to Rosenblatt Stadium to catch three innings of the Arizona State-North Carolina game.

Quote of the Day
"I think I understand my job, but I'm nothing special. The secret to success in this game is surrounding yourself with great people — that's the secret to getting to Omaha. It's not me, it's the environment around you, and I have a great environment."
-- LSU head coach Paul Mainieri in USA Today
http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/baseball/2009-06-17-sw-lsu_N.htm

9:12 p.m.
As I mentioned here earlier, the LSU baseball team and its supporters took part in a private dinner with about 300 guests at the team hotel tonight. It was a special, emotional and memorable evening for the LSU players, coaches, support staff and their families. More to come from Associate Sports Information Director Bill Martin later tonight right here on the blog.

Here are photos from the banquet and the team's trip to the zoo today.

Just heard on ESPN that there has been a streaker at the park in the top of the ninth of the Arkansas-Virginia game....missed it!

5:23 p.m.
LSU outfielder and first-round draft pick Jared Mitchell will be interviewed live on ESPN2 at 6:45 p.m. CT during the Virginia-Arkansas game.

One more note: DJ LeMahieu became the first LSU player to record at least three hits in consecutive CWS games.

4:22 p.m.
Trying to do laundry at the hotel is proving difficult. There's one washer and dryer for all of the Tigers supporters who have been here for almost a week. Patience and good timing are necessary over these few days off to get clean clothes for the duration. Load No. 1 is done....

3:56 p.m.
We're under our first tornado watch during our stay in Omaha, though the storm is too our south along the Nebraska-Kansas border and shouldn't effect the area. The weather's been great for the entire trip. It's forecast to get hotter (mid to upper 90s) with less chance of rain over the next few days. Though we've expected stattered thunderstorms every day, we've only had a few drops of rain.

The team finished its practice without any problems and has returned to the hotel. The team party will be held at 7 p.m. We'll have a copy of the video that will be played for the team available on LSUsports.net later this evening.

10:09 a.m.
In reference to the note below about teams starting 2-0 and not making the championship series, Kenny K. e-mailed lsusports@lsu.edu and asked which teams in the past five years came from the loser's bracket to advance to the championship series?
- In 2006, Oregon State lost its opening-round game to Miami, 11-1, then came back to beat Rice twice (5-0, 2-0) to advance to the finals, which the Beavers won.
- In 2007, North Carolina lost its winner's bracket game to Rice, 14-4, then came back to beat the Owls twice (6-1, 7-4) to advance to the finals, which Oregon State won.

Here's another tidbit: The last team to lose its second CWS game and then win a national championship was Wichita State in 1989. Arkansas and Arizona State won the first and then lost their second game this year.

9:18 a.m.
In case you didn't notice, we've added several CWS images from the first two games to www.LSUpix.net, our online photo store. Take a look at some of Steve Franz work, and if you like one, buy it!

9:04 a.m.
I've got some more free time for research this morning:

  • LSU ranked ninth in all-time CWS wins with 32. With another win, the Tigers would tie Arizona for eighth; two more wins ties Cal St. Fullerton for seventh.
  • Over the past five series, only Rice has started 2-0 and failed to make the championship series. The Owls did so in 2006 and '07. LSU and Texas are each 2-0 this season.
  • Pitching is key to advancing to the CWS. Entering the CWS, the six teams in the field ranked in the top 9 in the nation in earned run average. The top 9 are still the same after two CWS games:
    NCAA Team ERA Ranking (ERA before CWS, ERA as of 6/16)
    1. Arizona St. (2.78, now 2.86)
    2. Texas (2.84, now 2.88)
    3. Virginia (3.14, now 3.25)
    4. Cal St. Fullerton (3.36, now 3.53) - eliminated
    5. North Carolina (3.61, now 3.60)
    9. LSU (3.99, now 3.96)
    40. Arkansas (4.56, now 4.62 and No. 45)
    72. Southern Miss (5.01, now 5.14 and No. 88) - eliminated
  • Something's got to give:
    - Since 2000, every national champion has come from the bracket that started on day 2 of the CWS. LSU started on day 1.
    - Since 2000, no No. 1 seed has won a national championship. Texas is the No. 1 seed.

Tuesday, June 16

10:45 p.m.
It's been a slow day in Omaha for the Tigers, as the team went through an afternoon practice at Bellevue East High School before enjoying a team dinner at a local steakhouse. Tomorrow has a little more excitement for the team, as they will depart for practice at 11 a.m. and go to the zoo at 3 p.m. Most importantly, LSU will learn its Friday opponent tomorrow night, as Virginia and Arkansas square off in the loser's bracket.

This is about as quiet as the CWS will get, as those who came up for the opening weekend have returned home and those coming for this coming weekend haven't arrived. But, it's the calm before the storm...especially if the Tigers are fortunate enough to earn a spot in the championship series. At that time, the Old Market across the street from the team hotel will look more like the French Quarter than ever before.

12:01 p.m.
Years ago, former coach Skip Bertman started another Omaha tradition of which I wasn't aware. If the Tigers win the first two games, longtime supporters of the team host a dinner party for the team and their families. This private party will be the first such event since 2000, and will include the players introducing their families, video highlights of the Tigers "Road to Omaha," among other festivities. It's a great reward for the team after earning three days off between games.

9:00 a.m.
Good morning from Omaha! And, a great morning it is. The Tigers are 2-0 in the College World Series for the first time since 2000 -- the last time LSU brought home a national championship. Winning the first two games is so critical to making the championship series, as 17 of the past 19 champions have come out of the winner's bracket.

On Friday at 1 p.m., LSU will face the winner of Wednesday's loser's bracket game between Virginia and Arkansas.

In the mean time, the team will rest, try to stay focused on baseball, and get to see some of the sites of Omaha.

By the way, US Open pairings have been released, and former Tiger David Toms will tee off at Bethpage Black on Thursday at 12:03 p.m. with David Duval and Darren Clarke. Toms is a huge LSU fan and supporter. Toms, who finished tied for second in Memphis this past weekend, is playing very well and has been mentioned among the Open favorites.

Maybe we'll get to see him for the championship series, should we advance!

Here's a great column by Bob Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald this morning: LSU Brings a Punch to the CWS, Omaha. Here's an excerpt from the column:
"We've had some fun stories around here in recent years. But Oregon State and Fresno State don't capture the imagination like the Bayou Bombers. We'll take a party over parity every time."

Monday, June 15

10:30 p.m.
Watch highlights and the postgame press conference, too!

9:32 p.m.
The Tigers complete the all-important task at the CWS: win your first two games. Nolan Cain pitches a scoreless ninth to beat Arkansas, 9-1. Read more on the LSUsports.net homepage.

8:58 p.m.
RHP Daniel Bradshaw (4-0, 3.38 ERA) enters in relief of Coleman to start the seventh inning. Coleman gives another quality start for the Tigers (6 IP, 1 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, 7 K). Though the Hogs get an infield single, Bradshaw retires the side. We're going to the eighth.

8:46 p.m.
After Nola's homer, Dean hits a two-out, two-run blast to deep right field to chase Forrest and continue a five-run frame for the Tigers. Gibbs singled, Mahtook walked both came around to score when Mitchell singled to left and the throw to third went to the backstop.

LSU leads 9-1 going to te seventh.

A few notes from SID Bill Martin:
- This marks the second time this season that two freshmen have homered in a game (Grant Dozar and Tyler Hanover did it on March7 against Illinois)
- LSU's three homers are the most in a CWS game since June 10, 2000, against Texas
- Though it's still early, LSU's eight-run lead is its largest since beating Texas (previous note), 13-5

8:12 p.m.
Forrest had retired 14-of-16 batter until LSU shortstop Austin Nola blasted a solo homer to left field with one out in the sixth. Nola graduated from Catholic High School in Baton Rouge along with yours truly.

7:52 p.m.
LeMahieu makes a great stop on the grass behind second base and throws from his knees to get the last out of the fourth inning. Television replays show it was very close...maybe a tie.

7:35 p.m.
Coleman works out of a one-out, second and third jam by striking out a pair of Hogs. Still 4-1 in the top of the fourth.

7:22 p.m.
from Kent Lowe
It is a work day in Omaha so we’ll have to see what the numbers do, but entering Monday’s play the first games drew 96,868, a per-session average of 24,217. That’s way ahead of the 2005 record average of 23,952 and up over 17 percent from last year’s average of 20,631. Don’t know if it is Rosenblatt nostalgia bringing every one out in droves or it could be the powerhouse teams with big fan followings that are here this year like the LSU Tigers.

A little over 17,500 were here for the opening game between Virginia and Fullerton (gee, amazing how we think that’s bad after watching them jam in here this weekend, but the five-game average entering the night is still over 21,000, but that does drop it behind the 2005 record which will be hard to beat since there were just 11 sessions where last year there were 16.

Two booths over, the CWS is honoring the "7,000,000th" fans, a group of mainly LSU fans who were a part of the game 5 crowd today.

7:06 p.m.
Coleman allows a full-count walk and a one-out single, but gets two strikeouts and a harmless ground ball to first to end the inning. LSU leads 4-1 going to the third.

6:58 p.m.
A two-out rally by the Tigers chased Eibner (1.2 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 1 K) in favor of former Tiger RHP TJ Forrest. A single through the right side by LeMahieu was followed by an RBI double off the base of the centerfield wall by Schimpf.

Forrest's longest outing of the season was 5.1 innings on May 2. In Coleman's two-hitter, Forrest started and allowed five runs on seven hits with three walks and three strikeouts.

Forrest got out of the inning with a strikeout of Gibbs.

6:39 p.m.
Arkansas answers with a run in the bottom of the first, as Ben Tschepikow doubles inside the leftfield line and later scored on sacrifice fly. The Hogs have equalled their hit total when they faced Coleman earlier this season. LSU leads 3-1.

6:32 p.m.
A three-run homer by Mikey Mahtook puts the Tigers on top to start the game, as the freshman crushes a 3-2 pitch over the leftfield wall. Mahtook was about as excited as you'll ever see a baseball player. He looked like former LSU defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey after a big sack. LSU leads 3-0 going to the bottom of the frame, and here comes Louis Coleman.

Mahtook's homer was the first by an LSU freshman since Mike Fontenot against Texas on June 10, 2000.

The key to that inning was a 13-pitch at bat by Ryan Schimpf. He fouled off eight pitches in the at bat, as Arkansas starter Brett Eibner threw 38 pitches in the first.

5:53 p.m.
Breaking news from the stands: the "K Lady" will not be allowed to hang "K's" tonight. Not sure why.

Anyway, here are the starting lineups for tonight's game:

LSU
1. LeMahieu, 2B
2. Schimpf, LF
3. Dean, DH
4. Gibbs, C
5. Mahtook, CF
6. Mitchell, RF
7. Ochinko, 1B
8. Helenihi, 3B
9. Nola, SS
RHP Coleman (13-2, 2.74 ERA)

Arkansas
1. Leavitt, LF
2. Tschepikow, SS
3. Lyons, DH
4. Wilkins, 1B
5. Cox, 3B
6. Bigham, 2B
7. Darr, RF
8. McCann, C
9. Kuhn CF
RHP Eibner (5-4, 4.61 ERA)

5:41 p.m.
First pitch is at 6:08 p.m. CT on ESPN2, for those of you watching PTI and waiting for the game. LSU is taking BP right now. It's mostly cloudy, but no rain has fallen. The radar is still clear, so hopefully we will get the game in without delay.

4:32 p.m.
Virginia allowed the go-ahead run to get to the plate in the ninth, but eliminated CS Fullerton, 7-5. The Titans are the first team to leave Omaha.

LSU and Arkansas are both warming in the outfield. The Tigers will wear purple jerseys (Coleman prefers these), white pants and purple caps. Arkansas, the home team today, will weat all white with red caps.

4:04 p.m.
Made it to the ballpark, and Virginia is still leading CS Fullerton, 7-3, going to the bottom of the eighth. The Cavaliers are the home team and need only three more outs.

Meanwhile, the LSU bat girls -- who crammed in the back of the rental car so I could catch a ride to the park -- and chaperone/chauffeur George Branigan took a stroll over the Zesto's for some ice cream. Located across the parking lot from the stadium, Zesto's is a CWS staple that I've yet to try...but I hear it's good.

3:53 p.m.
from Kent Lowe
Sr. Associate Sports Information Director
I don’t know if it was noticeable on TV Saturday but it was very clear, or rather it wasn’t very clear, in the broadcast booth for a couple of innings when a thick haze of smoke settled over the park. It was apparently just as bad in the stands as I received some text messages at about the same time.

I wandered over to the press lounge behind our booth and saw the Omaha Steak booth belching out enough smoke to cover most of the hilltop. The steak burgers must have had a little extra fat in them on Saturday for some reason and it must have dripped on the charcoal or something.

--

Got to mention this. Did you see on the web site, our Bill Franques’ son, William, being interviewed by Louis Coleman. That was a great piece of tape and I hope Bill and William can look at that in several years when William is older and really enjoy it. The Franques family is all here this week and I think that’s really a cool thing. They are just of that age when this excitement makes a little sense to them and I’m sure the magnitude of this event must seem gigantic in the eyes of his three kids.

There were a lot of kids at practice Sunday looking for the lucky autograph or just a chance to shake someone’s hand.  It’s another part of this Omaha magic that the CWS allows family to get together and share.

---

I’m really having such fun with the off-field blogging this week, I hate to leave, but I’m out of here first thing Wednesday, so tonight will be the last game of this CWS I’ll see in person for the Tigers,  win or lose. But I would love to see them get command of this bracket and maybe we can take care of this little jinx that no team since Miami in 1999 has played on the opening day of the CWS and walked away with the title. Hogwash! (Can I say that when we are playing the Razorbacks tonight?)

Oh well, Todd Politz, Bill Martin and Chad Vignes will have all the game coverage during and after tonight’s affair. Weather forecast remains iffy for developing showers but the local meteorologists have been changing their tune by the hour for days here. It’s cloudy, but there is still some blue sky at 3:45 as I type this.

We’ll see what happens. Geaux Tigers and enjoy the game!!!!

11:40 a.m.
It was forecast to rain most of the day here in Omaha, but the sun has been peeking through the clouds for the past couple hours. The Omaha radar looks like the storm missed us to the north. Hopefully we can get today's games played as scheduled.

10:48 a.m.
Great video content from Sunday is now available on LSUsports.net.

If there was any question about how loose the Tigers will be for tonight's game, just watch these editions of "The Buzz from Omaha" with Chad Jones and Micah Gibbs. Do you think these guys are relaxed?

Before practice, Kevin Wagner caught up with pitching coach David Grewe to talk about Louis Coleman returning to the mound tonight. Then, Coleman took the microphone for an interview with William Franques, Jr.

8:58 a.m.
As you can tell from previous posts, days off in Omaha are pretty slow for the team and its supporters. That doesn't mean there wasn't good baseball yesterday, as Arizona State knocked North Carolina into the loser's bracket in extra innings; and Texas took advantage of three bases loaded walks in the final two frames to beat Southern Miss.

Speaking of North Carolina: there was an awkward moment at dinner last night when the Tar Heels' pitcher Brian Moran was walking out of the restaurant. A boisterous North Carolina fan yelled "great game today, lefty!" However, that fan was unaware that Moran gave up a three-run homer in the top of the 10th that cost his team the game. Moran took it in stride, thanked the not-so-gentleman, and walked away wearing a Notre Dame t-shirt....

If you've been to Omaha and haven't been to The Drover steakhouse, you need to. It was great once again. The "whiskey bone-in ribeye" was outstanding.

Sunday, June 14

4:05 p.m.
By Kent Lowe

It’s been a quiet off day for a lot of people including me, waiting for the practice to start in a bit. Went to church this morning at the Cathedral on the Creighton campus. Creighton is a Jesuit-run Catholic University and the Cathedral is located in the middle of a beautiful plaza on campus.

It was amazing how many people were there who obviously had ties to the CWS. All different colors of shirts were seen and there were obviously a lot of people who had LSU ties at the Mass. The priest after the closing prayer asked everyone to please stand and said, “I have a second prayer for all our friends here for the College World Series.” He paused, raised his hands, smiled and said, “May all the games be fair.”

That drew a big laugh from the entire congregation.

Even at lunch you see people who are CWS fans. I was in line at Subway across the street from the media hotel (the blog has a big budget) and behind me in line were four Southern Miss fans who will play Texas later tonight. For the record I had a turkey on wheat for those keeping score. Been here since Friday and no steak. Does my meatloaf lunch at the Twisted Fork on Saturday count. By the way, that place is right by the team hotel and I will highly recommend it.

--

Couple of thoughts from last night. I suggested that the session record of 24,904 set in 2005 in a Nebraska game was in jeopardy last night but how can you predict that it would be tied. You mean someone in the ticket office couldn’t go, hell, let’s punch one more ticket in here to get the record. That’s not a number you can just come up with for a tie.

How about the Omaha World Herald. Our bloggers earlier this morning mentioned the story on the 100 youth teams in town, but on the four-page wraparound section (newspaper term) that the paper did is a great three-quarter page picture of Sean Ochinko as he reacted to his three-run homer. It is a giant picture.

Then you get to the back of the four-page spread and there is a full-page picture of Micah Gibbs' bat swinging on his double in the third inning.  Give photographer Matt Miller some credit for a couple of good pictures.

--

Tom Shatel has been a columnist here for a good while and always has an interesting opinion on things and he has whined about the CWS when changes are made for years. He mentioned many of his whines and a lot of fans whines and then this morning wrote: “Feel better now? Good. Now let’s can it for the next two weeks. The sun is out, the sky is blue, the grass is green and I’m feeling all positive vibes here on the first day of the CWS.

Shatel said he read a book about Fresno State’s miracle run to last year’s CWS. As he put it, we were too busy whining to notice. “I was too busy, um, whining. There was an armada of us whining last year. I was the leader of the band. Typical. I was so busy bemoaning how the NCAA was taking the air out of the CWS that I missed the very thing that makes it magic. Never again.

There is some whining about changes to the format over the years and the new stadium brings lots of anxiety. But after a day like Saturday when nearly 50,000 jammed the stadium on the hilltop, the CWS is still one of college athletics best event by far.

--

So it’s off to practice and then some friends of mine from Baton Rouge and I are going to try to find a nice spot with a big TV to watch the Southern Miss-Texas game tonight. Maybe this is the night I could sneak a steak onto the table. I promise it will be a small one. I’m sure our bloggers will update you with interviews and previews for Monday’s game and I’ll visit with you prior to game time Monday with what’s happening around Rosenblatt.

 

10:29 a.m.
One of the topics of conversation an breakfast this morning is all of the games we've played against SEC teams in the College World Series. So, I decided to do a little research in the 2009 LSU Baseball Media Guide (page 150). You can own a copy before we sell out forever!

LSU vs. the SEC in the College World Series
2004 - Lost to South Carolina, 15-4
2003 - Lost to South Carolina, 11-10
1998 - Def. Mississippi St., 10-8
1997 - Def. Alabama, 13-6 *
1996 - Def. Florida, 9-4
1996 - Def. Florida, 2-1
1991 - Def. Florida, 19-8
1991 - Def. Florida, 8-1
Total: 6-2

* national championship game

NOTE: LSU defeated Arkansas in the 1987 CWS, but the Hogs were still in the Southwest Conference at the time.

9:59 a.m.
Good morning from Omaha! Great game for the Tigers last night. For the first time in a long time, LSU was forced to rely on its bullpen. And, for the most part, they answered the call.
- Paul Bertuccini came in to bail Anthony Ranaudo out of a bases-loaded situation in the fourth
- Austin Ross entered to get a strikeout in the fifth with two men on base
- With the go-ahead run at the plate in the seventh, Chad Jones walked the first batter on a 3-2 pitch that just missed. But the lefty came back to get a pop-up that ultimately won the game for LSU.
- Let's face it, Jones' out was so key because it allowed coach Mainieri could use All-Americans Louis Coleman and Matty Ott for an inning each to advance to the winner's bracket.

The Tigers have proven to be unstoppable when leading after six innings: now 46-0.

Today is a typical "off day" in Omaha. The team will take part in a bruch with some area youth at the Happy Hollow Country Club this morning before practicing at Bellevue East this afternoon.

According to the local newspaper, there are more than a 1,000 Little League teams in the area this weekend for a series of tournaments. It's a big week for baseball in Omaha for all ages.

Saturday, June 13

9:59 p.m.
Ott throws a scoreless ninth, and LSU wins its opening game at the CWS for the first time since 2000, 9-6. Read more

9:40 p.m.
An RBI single by LeMahieu and a two-run homer to right field by Schimpf give LSU a four-run lead, 9-5!

If LSU wins this game, Mainieri's going to look like a genius by throwing Coleman in the eighth to setup Ott. 

Here comes Matty "Ice".

9:18 p.m.
LSU senior Louis Coleman has come in to pitch the eighth inning. Head coach Paul Mainieri looking to get an inning out of the starter to setup Matty Ott. It's Coleman's eighth relief appearance this season but first since April 3 at Georgia.

9:05 p.m.
A solo homer by Virginia's Franco Valdes off Ross brought the Cavaliers within a run, 6-5. Chad Jones entered in relief for LSU and gave up a two-out walk before getting No. 2 hitter Gosselin to pop out harmlessly to second.

LSU leads 6-5 going to the bottom of the seventh.

8:54 p.m.
For the first time since the second inning, a pair of zeros were recorded in the sixth. Each team posted a single but neither was able to advance past second. Still 6-4 LSU. The Tigers are 45-0 when leading after six innings.

8:37 p.m.
Gibbs and Mahtook each improved to 3-for-3 today with singles with one out before the bottom of the LSU order finally came alive. After strikeouts in his first two at bats, Ochinko lined a three-run homer into the leftfield bleachers to give the Tigers the lead once again, 6-4.

8:23 p.m. 
Virginia hit its first homer since regional play, a solo shot to the leftfield power alley by Steven Proscia (10th of the season), to tie the game at 3-3 with one out in the fifth. Three more singles and a fielder's choice gave Virginia 4-3 lead and chased Bertuccini.

RHP Austin Ross, the Tigers Sunday starter during the regular season, entered with two outs and runners on first and second. A strikeout looking ended the threat and minimized the damage.

LSU trailed 4-3 going to the bottom of the fifth.

8:05 p.m.
Virginia also went to the bullpen to start the fourth inning, as LHP Matt Packer took over for Hultzen (who stays in the game as the DH). Packer allowed a leadoff walk to Nola, but erased him on a fielder's choice to second that would have been a double play if the first baseman would have kept his foot on the bag. A strikeout-throwout double play ended the inning.

7:55 p.m.
It was Ranaudo shortest outing of the year, as the sophomore righthander was pulled with a run in, the bases loaded and one out in the top of the fourth. He only pitched fewer than six innings one other time this season, in his first appearance of the season against Villanova.

Paul Bertuccini entered in relief for the Tigers and did his job. He struckout Gosselin and then got Hultzen out on a diving catch by Schimpf near the leftfield line.

LSU leads 3-2, as the Cavaliers left the bases loaded as well.

7:35 p.m.
LSU responds to the Virginia run with two of their own in the third. LeMahieu singled and Schimpf doubled, then Dean drove in LeMahieu with a sacrifice fly. Another RBI single by Gibbs gave LSU a 3-1 lead. However, the Tigers missed out on the big inning after leaving the bases loaded.

7:12 p.m.
Ranaudo struggles with his control in the top of the third. After getting in front of No. 9 hitter Keith Werman, he allows a double to left-center on a full-count pitch. Werman later scored on a groundout by Hultzen to tie the game at 1-1. Despite two walks, Ranaudo was backed up by great defensive plays by LeMahieu and Nola to get out of the first and third jam.

Ranaudo's thrown 61 pitches.

6:52 p.m.
LSU goes quietly in the second with two K's. Hultzen has thrown 37 pitches, while Ranaudo has 33.

6:47 p.m.
A bit of controvery to open the second inning. Grovatt hit the ball toward the leftfield corner, and just over the glove of Schimpf. The third-base umpire initially called the ball fair but then overruled himself, taking away a triple. Though Grovatt singled later in the at-bat, he was stranded on second -- and LSU got lucky because it was probably fair. Ranaudo got a lineout to Schimpf and a strikeout to end the inning.

6:37 p.m.
LSU rallied with two outs in the bottom of the first, as Dean doubled to right field and scored when Gibbs singled just in front of rightfielder Dan Grovatt. Mahtook kept the inning alive with a bloop single over the first baseman's head and inside the right-field line.

With runners on the corners, Ochinko got ahead 3-1 but struckout on consecutive swings.

LSU leads 1-0 after one inning.

Former LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini is in the stands with his son and daughter. Now the Nebraska head coach, Peleini's sitting behind the LSU dugout pulling for the "home" team.

6:14 p.m.
A 1-2-3 inning for Ranuado to open the first. He fanned Jarrett Parker to open the game. Then, he fell behind the No. 2 hitter (Gosselin), 3-0, and gets him to ground out to Nola. A sharp grounder to Helenihi at third was handled to end the inning.

Ranaudo used 21 pitches in the frame.

The general admission outfield seating is PACKED, while the reserved seating is going to be after a little while.

6:09 p.m.
LSU takes the field! Lineup for the Tigers:
17 LeMahieu, 2B
16 Schimpf, LF
34 Dean, DH
33 Gibbs, C
8 Mahtook, CF
14 Ochinko, 1B
3 Mitchell, RF
5 Helenihi, 3B
36 Nola, SS

5:54 p.m.
Congratuations to the LSU men's and women's track & field teams on their performances at the NCAA Championships that ended today in Fayetteville, Ark. The men finished fifth and the women were sixth.

For those who want to listen live, the LSU Sports Radio Network broadcast is free in the Geaux Zone. Listen now!

To watch live stats, click here.

To watch the game live, tune in to ESPN-HD or watch live online on www.ESPN360.com.

5:17 p.m.
LSU and Virginia are preparing to take the field. The Tigers are again wearing gold jerseys (Ranaudo prefers these) and white pants with purple caps. For the second-straight week, LSU is facing a road team wearing all white. The Cavaliers are wearing white tops and pants, and dark blue caps with orange brims.

After a long first game, the stadium gates are just opening. First pitch is 6:08 p.m. on ESPN.

4:29 p.m.
Game 1 of the CWS is in the books, as Arkansas knocks off Cal St. Fullerton, 10-6. The Titans gambled on a freshman starter and it didn't pay off. They were down 7-2 after four innings and weren't able to close the gap.

Arkansas advances to the winner's bracket and will face the winner of LSU and Virginia on Monday at 6 p.m. CT. CS-Fullerton fell into the loser's bracket and will face the loser of tonight's game at 1 o'clock on Monday.

As forecast, the skies have cleared a bit and it has warmed into the upper 70s.

4:26 p.m.
from Kent Lowe
Sr. Assoc. Sports Information Director

I’ve been walking around the park a bit and this is a thought I’ve had since the 1990s even when this park held just 15-or 16,000 back in the day.

What must this place be like during the Triple A season for the Omaha Royals?

I mean now it’s a 24,000-plus seat stadium and I don’t care how good they are, no one is coming in those types of numbers to see the Royals. In fact this year they are averaging 5,200 an opening. That means foul balls must rattle around here and it must look like no one is here. Surely they must keep a lot of the park closed to spectators or that would really spread the crowd out.

Then if you are a member of the team, you are sent every year in June no matter what on a two-week plus road trip throughout the Pacific Coast League. Just make a note if you are sent to Omaha, home games in June are out.

It will be interesting to see what the Royals do with the new park being built. Do they want to go downtown to another gigantic park? Rumor is they want to build a smaller park in the suburbs. Can’t see the city building that one as well. Should be interesting. Omaha has a long, rich tradition of minor league baseball. Can’t see it just disappearing overnight.

--

The cooking began early in the motor home area down at the bottom of the hill behind left field and down 13th Street on the main drag of the park. It is amazing all the friends that you suddenly seem to have when you start cooking. The more amazing thing is that the people who bring the food want to share it with everyone. It’s what makes an LSU tailgate something special.

There were things in the parking lot like jambalaya, boudin, seafood of all types and as I discovered during the super regionals, anything like pork loin or deer sausage wrapped in bacon, cream cheese and jalapeno peppers, were showing up to get a taste.

Peter Finney in his Times Picayune column Friday had the appropriate quote: As a Nebraska state trooper once put it: "When LSU doesn't make it, you'll have one motor home and a thousand fights. When LSU is here, you've got 100 motor homes and one great party."

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the party.

--

What a couple of years 1991 and 1993 were when LSU won the title. After every Tiger win you couldn’t walk through the Embassy Suites (a different one from the one the Tigers are now staying in). All the ESPN people were staying there including then ESPN play-by-play man Tim Brando, who made sure in 1993 of mentioning Shreveport-Bossier City (Brando’s home as well) as where Todd Walker  was from at least once a game if not once an at bat.

It’s funny, I remember more about the post-game at the hotel in 1991 and 1993 then a lot about the specific details. People just wouldn’t leave even though it was an early Saturday game after the LSU win. Every time a player stepped out of a room there was a loud roar. LSU was definitely in all its glory in those years at the CWS. It would be nice to hear some of those post-championship roars again this time.

One thing I do remember, especially in 1991, was how big Rosenblatt was as a ball park. Centerfield in 1991 was 421 and I believe it was at least 340 if not 345 down the lines. Balls that were blasts died in the cavernous gaps and center field. It was amazing to watch balls that just would travel forever and still be caught at the wall.

--

On the drive to the stadium we passed the bowling center three blocks from Rosenblatt that has been there for years. For some reason it is named “Chops Bowl”. The marquee outside said: “Closed Today. Gone to Series. No one will work.” You knew being a bowling columnist in the local paper I would have to get a bowling reference in this thing sooner or later.

That should tell you a bit about the way this city reacts to the CWS.

--

As soon as we arrived, the sights all came back to me and then came the smells. Bar-B-Q, funnel cakes, burgers, etc. etc.  Lines galore. The event is officially under way and I am amazed at the crowd for the opening game. Packed in a lot of spots. Wouldn’t surprise me if an opening night record goes if the weather stays like it presently is ... partly cloudy and very comfortable. The session two attendance record is 24,904 in 2005 when Nebraska played. We’ll have to see.

The all-time single session record was set when 30,553 saw North Carolina beat LSU, 7-3, on June 20, 2008.

--

I need to find a scale to weigh the CWS media guide/record book. It’s 283 pages and the thing is by the time this is over, every page will be checked for a possible note or record by writers from throughout the country.

--

Wonder if anyone actually goes to the zoo on a day like this? I even wonder how in the heck anyone could get to the zoo on a day like this. Parking is at a premium. Thank goodness for the industrious home owners who let people park in their yard for several dollars. Passed one house where four people were watching over the cars. Well, sort of. Two girls were throwing beanbags back and forth.  Two others were watching the cars in lawn chairs with both eyes definitely shut.

And how do all those animals react when a big roar goes up from the top of the hill?

--

Todd Politz and Bill Martin will be blogging the game aspects this evening as LSU and Virginia open their quest for the MCWS titles. Geaux Tigers.

3:09 p.m.
The team has left for the stadium, and we're right behind them. Next stop: Rosenblatt. Game 1 is underway, with Arkansas leading 9-4 in the top of the sixth.

1:02 p.m.
While waiting for our game, I'm flipping back-and-forth between the CS-Fullerton/Arkansas game (ESPN) and the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships final day (CBS). Good luck Tigers!

And, at 2 p.m. CT, CBS will air the St. Jude Classic on the PGA Tour. David Toms is in tied for second place early in round 3.

12:36 p.m.
After getting coach Grewe setup to record the other CWS games this morning, Kevin Wagner and David Landry of the LSU Sports Television Network caught up with tonight's starting pitcher, Anthony Ranaudo. Watch the pregame interview now.

12:25 p.m.
from Bill Martin
Associate Sports Information Director
A big reason of the nationwide popularity of the College World Series has been ESPN. The network does an outstanding job in covering the event from all angles for its high definition production. Part of the responsibility of each of the head coaches here is meeting with the ESPN talent crew on the morning of a game.

This morning at 8:30 a.m., head coach Paul Mainieri, associate head coach David Grewe, baseball SID Bill Franques and myself went to the Omaha Hilton to meet with Mike Patrick (play-by-play), Orel Hershiser (analyst), Erin Andrews (dugout) and a handful of production staff to discuss tonight’s game.

The purpose of these meetings is for the ESPN crew to gather information about our team to help in the production of the broadcast. This happens for all games ESPN covers. During football season, the network comes in for Friday meetings. Prior to basketball games, ESPN will attend a team’s gameday shootaround.

With everyone gathered around a conference table, baseball SID Bill Franques writes the Tigers’ lineup on a wipeboard and then Mainieri provides insight to each player with on and off the field information to help the broadcast team out that hasn’t seen LSU play all season. Mainieri is sharp in these meetings and gives an entire synopsis of the season.

Some of the key points he hit on included:
- His relationship with Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor
- How LSU’s attendance surpassed 400,000 for the entire season at New Alex Box Stadium to which the crew replied “That’s amazing. You sure you guys aren’t playing in Tiger Stadium?”
- The team’s chemistry and leadership
- The two-sport success of Jared Mitchell and Chad Jones ... How Jones came out of nowhere to emerge as a key reliever because of his imposing presence and stuff
- The Tigers’ 23-4 record since Austin Nola stepped in at shortstop
- How Mainieri has faced his former coaches the past two seasons, including Grewe last season at Michigan State and former pitching coach Terry Rooney with Central Florida this season
- The dominance of Matty “Ice” Ott as a true freshman and his confidence when he takes the mound
- The connection between O’Connor, Mainieri and Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry, who will be in attendance tonight
- How Mainieri told starter Anthony Ranaudo last year that his first relief appearance in 2008 would be experience for the following year when he starts Game 1 of the 2009 College World Series ... That ironically will happen tonight

Meanwhile, Grewe gives Hershiser a scouting report on Ranaudo. Hershiser, the 1988 World Series MVP of the Los Angeles Dodgers and former pitching coach of the Texas Rangers, finds out the tendencies of what pitches he can expect to see from Ranaudo and the specifics of his mechanics. Hershiser while in Omaha is taking a break from his Baseball Tonight and ESPN Wednesday Night Baseball duties.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the Virginia Cavaliers:

LSU will once again be tested by a phenomenal left handed starting pitcher. Freshman Danny Hultzen boasts a 9-1 record with a 2.09 ERA. Opponents are hitting .242 against the southpaw in 86.0 innings pitched. Hultzen hurled 5.1 innings last Friday against Ole Miss in the Super Regional, allowing two earned runs on five hits with a walk and five strikeouts in a no decision.

Hultzen, the ACC Freshman of the Year, will likely be penciled into the batting order as well. Sophomore centerfielder Jarrett Parker leads a Cavalier team that held the highest team batting average in the Atlantic Coast Conference (.327).  Parker is one of three hitters with an average over .360, and he has 16 homers to go along with 65 RBI.  Parker is an aggressive hitter who has five homers to leadoff games this season.

Virginia is a complete team and it will be key for Ranaudo to get ahead of hitters and avoid base runners. The Cavs led the ACC in stolen bases and nearly every batter in the order is a threat on the base paths. They swiped 12 bases last week at Ole Miss, putting pressure on the Rebels all series.

As a staff, Virginia’s pitching ERA has been a sparkling 1.45 in 56 postseason innings. Should the Tigers get to Hultzen, they will have to contend with a Virginia bullpen that is just as masterful. In the NCAA Tournament, the bullpen has tossed 40 innings and maintained a 1.13 ERA. 

Virginia’s road to Omaha was arguably the toughest of any of the eight teams here. In its first game in the NCAA Irvine Regional, the Cavs knocked off No. 1 draft pick Steven Strasburg, who scattered eight hits and a pair of runs despite striking out 15. UVA then defeated host UC Irvine twice before responding with two straight wins at Ole Miss after losing the Super Regional opener.

We are nearing five hours from first pitch. Arkansas and Cal State Fullerton will be getting underway shortly. We will see you from the press box at Rosenblatt Stadium later. Good afternoon from Omaha.

Quote of the Day
“Just beyond the left field wall a pillar of smoke rose from the trees lining Bob Gibson Boulevard, a thick white cloud produced by a small city's worth of purple-and-gold clad LSU fans. They waved and threw strands of Mardi Gras beads to the conga line of cars that crawled by, slowly snaking its way along the two-lane road, gawking at the tent-sized "GEAUX TIGERS" flags and rounding the block around The Blatt searching for a parking spot. The stop-and-go traffic, mostly stop at this point, crept left onto 13th Street, the main conduit from downtown Omaha to the nearly 60-year-old ballpark."
-- Ryan McGee, ESPN The Magazine, in an excerpt from his new book “The Road To Omaha: Hits, Hopes and History at the College World Series
http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/columns/story?columnist=mcgee_ryan&id=4252846

12:01 p.m.
The team will depart from the hotel at 3 p.m. for Rosenblatt. As the higher seed, LSU will be the home team and occupy the third base dugout.

10:46 a.m.
When I first came to Rosenblatt in 1990, well it was just an old minor league park to be honest. Not a lot of seats had gone up in the outfield, the typical minor league advertisements adorned the outfield fence and the two press boxes were too small to handle the growing crush of media and a television network that had helped American discover this event.

The NCAA realized their little CWS was growing and told Omaha officials, you need to do something. Over the last two decades $34 million has been pumped into Rosenblatt Stadium to turn an old minor league park into a much better looking old minor league park.

Rosenblatt is still a great venue for the CWS, but age and time and space and the modern media needs have pushed this park almost off the hill it sits on. Underneath the paint and new stands and video boards that look great on TV is a stadium that still has a lot of deficiencies. Like LSU has done better for its self with a new Alex Box, Omaha has secured its future as the CWS host by building a new park that will be ready in 2011.

So raise a toast to Rosenblatt and the memories that will always live for LSU fans on the hillside off 13th Street by the zoo.

9:59 a.m.
In the Omaha World-Herald this morning, Warren Morris' walk-off home run to win the '96 College World Series was rated as the No. 2 Most Unforgettable Moment behind the 1991 Wichita St.-Creighton game. There may be a little Omaha bias in the rankings, as Creighton is located a few miles from Rosenblatt.

LSU was also witness to the No. 3 Most Forgettable Moment. In the eighth inning of last year's game against North Carolina, a 21-year-old man jumped onto the field wearing nothing but Chuck Taylor converse shoes. When he took a knee behind the shortstop position, he was leveled by a groundskeeper and hauled off to jail. It was the second streaking in CWS history (first in '74).

The weather this morning is cool (about 60 degrees) and cloudy. Clouds are expected to break with a high around 77.

A few of us spent the morning recalling stories from past road trips, while coach Paul Mainieri and pitching coach David Grewe met with ESPN's announcers for tonight's game. I say "tonight", but it won't get dark until at least 9 p.m. Official sunset is 8:58 p.m. (sunrise was at 5:50). The first day of summer (and the most dayligth of the year) is June 21 -- the "off day" before the CWS championship series.

Friday, June 12

8:36 p.m.
from Bill Martin
Associate Sports Information Director

There are moments in sports that give you goosebumps no matter how many times you may have gone through it. It’s a privilege to be a part of events like this. For me, this is my third trip to the College World Series and the first glance at Rosenblatt Stadium on the hill as you make your way down venerable 13th street is always a special one.

The sights. The sounds. The smells. It’s the same year after year and it never gets old. This is college baseball’s version of Addison, Waveland and Sheffield Avenues or the unique setting of Boston’s Yawkey Way. The atmosphere that transforms the surrounding area of Rosenblatt will be missed when the College World Series moves into its plush, downtown $120 million TD Ameritrade Park Omaha in 2011.

The 13th street atmosphere is always lined with great food, beer vendors, card and memorabilia shops and passionate fans who love of the game of baseball. Several of the coaches at today’s press conference were asked “what makes the event so special?” The response was nearly unison. The fans. The city of Omaha.

It’s about fathers taking their sons and daughters to games, to the Opening Ceremonies, to Friday’s annual team batting practices. It’s about kids lining the outfield bleachers awaiting the BP home runs that fly into the stands by the minute. That is something that has been passed down from generation to generation here in Omaha.

As a kid growing up, how could you not look forward to this every summer? With one more year left at the Old ‘Blatt, I urge nearly every mother or father who has a chance to take their kids to this event to do so. It’s an unforgettable experience if you love the game of baseball.

It’s about the relationships the Omaha natives make with the traveling fan bases and the relationships that college baseball has developed over the years. Nearly all of the coaches mentioned that in Friday’s press conference. Much has been written about the friendship of LSU head coach Paul Mainieri and Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor.

It’s easy to see to see how genuine these two coaches are and it speaks volumes of the programs they represent. The two sat side by side at the press conference and you could tell both were very emotional with their thoughts. O’Connor, an Omaha native, played college ball on Creighton’s 1991 College World Series team that was coached by now Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry.

Mainieri hired him as an assistant coach at the age of 23 at Notre Dame in 1994 and the two worked together until 2003 when O’Connor accepted the Virginia head coaching position. The two forged a remarkable friendship in those nine years. They remain close to Hendry as well, who will likely make an appearance here this week away. On Saturday, Mainieri and O’Connor will go up against each other on the game’s biggest stage.

Said O’Connor, “This guy to my right means everything to me. He took a chance on a 23-year old with one year of coaching experience to be his head assistant at Notre Dame. I wouldn’t be sitting at this podium if it wasn’t for him. That’s the professional side, but then there is the personal side. When you have your first child and the guy is waiting out in the waiting room and is one of the first people that see you after your first child is born, that is a pretty special relationship.”

Said Mainieri, “The most moving thing of all is to be sitting here next to this guy to my left. I am just so proud and so happy for a person that is so very special to me. It’s almost surreal to sit here with him. We agreed a long time ago that if we ever played each other that as long as it was in Omaha, we would be able to handle it. That day has arrived.”

Two classy individuals indeed. In tomorrow’s blog update, we will breakdown the LSU-Virginia matchup and take a look at the pitching matchups. Virginia compiled a 48-13-1 record on the year and led the Atlantic Coast Conference in batting (.327), earned run average (3.14) and stolen bases (116-140). It will be a true test for the Tigers.

Quote of the Day
“This guy, Paul Mainieri, means everything to me. Without question, he is my mentor in this game. What I am grateful for learning from him is that no one does it classier than this guy. I think he is the best in college baseball. One hundred percent class and honesty, he does it the right way, proving at LSU that you can do it the right way and still have a top-notch baseball program and have a chance to win a national championship.”
-- Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor on LSU head coach Paul Mainieri

5:08 p.m.
from Kent Lowe
Senior Associate Sports Information Director

ATLANTA -- Hi everyone! It's Kent Lowe and I’m nowhere near Omaha, yet.

I’m the final member of the Press Box Blog team trying to get to Omaha and somehow like the team, I have a feeling all this weather around Atlanta and Omaha is going to conspire to make me late getting in tonight.

While most of the blog team will be taking you through the game experience, I’ll be searching around looking for the little things that happen in Omaha while wondering if the ice cream at Zesto’s will be as good as I remember it. Will the stadium look different from my last trip in 2004 and wondering what it will be like not to see the College World Series in Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium in two years.

I had to put on my weather hat early this morning as some friends of mine who left Thursday night were having breakfast in Oklahoma City and were curious how bad the severe weather was ahead of them on I-35. Pat Shingleton or Jay Grimes I’m not, but I could tell them purple sitting over I-35 wasn’t exactly going to be fun to drive through.

I made my first trip to Omaha in 1990 and this will be the 11th time I’ve seen at least one of the LSU games in the CWS ... oops sorry, Men’s CWS. There are those of us who argue that is a little stupid to call it the men’s CWS, but the one in Oklahoma City for softball is the Women’s CWS, so there you are.

By the time I arrive -- no wait, who I am kidding -- Barrett’s Barleycorn is probably already full of LSU fans getting ready for tomorrow night’s game. It’s an LSU tradition that has made the place an institution in the lore of LSU baseball.

I’d love to tell you I’m looking forward to a big Omaha steak, but those in charge of my diet would freak out, so I won’t tell you that.

These people are so amazing here. They love the CWS and really if you are a college baseball fan, you can’t think of any other place this event should be. I can’t wait to see Lou Spry the official scorer and his chart of game time estimates based on the first two innings.

I remember my first trip to Omaha and that will be a story for another blog of the days when Rosenblatt was just another old minor league stadium.

Time to board the plane to Omaha and it appears a lot of these people boarding with me are heading there for the same reason. I’ve got five days to enjoy the sights and sounds. I can’t wait to be “Back Home in Omaha” again. Geaux Tigers!!!!

5:01 p.m.
Photos from the day's events are now available, including the team photo on LSUpix.net.

Also, watch coach Mainieri's opening comments at today's press conference now.

2:02 p.m.
Another unique event at the College World Series is the coaches' press conference, which includes all eight coaches at one time. They've just started, as each coach takes a turn making opening comments.

- Arizona State head coach Pat Murphy get it all started by calling out ESPN for not covering regular-season college baseball games; therefore, he says that it's difficult to scout his opponents until they receive video from other regionals.
- Texas head coach Augie Garrido gives a heart-felt thank you to the city of Omaha; says the most consistent part of his team is the pitching staff, with pretty good defense. Mentions that he took three naps during the 25-inning win over Boston College in the NCAA Regional. He's a class act.
- Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn, whose team went 0-2 in its 2004 appearance, was thankful to be back in Omaha. He spoke about the wonderful friends he made at his previous coaching job in Nebraska, and about starting 8-0 in the SEC before going 0-8 to end SEC play. 
- Cal State Fullerton head coach Dave Serrano spoke about a good balance of seniors, underclassmen and freshmen on his roster.
- Southern Miss head coach Corky Palmer, who Eagles are making their first appearance in Omaha, spoke about the tough road they've had to take to get here and also the tough field that's here in Omaha. But, "we'll be okay." He's announced that he will retire at the end of this season, and that the Super Regional victory was his greatest moment -- and the worst was every time he's had to speak to the media since then (tongue-in-cheek). He's retiring so young because he "likes fishing."
- LSU head coach Paul Mainieri reflects on making the CWS for the third time (second school). He mentions how proud he is to be sitting in the press conference with his former assistant at Notre Dame, Bryan O'Connor.
- Virginia head coach Bryan O'Connor thanks the NCAA for sending his team to Irvine for the Regional and Oxford for the Super Regional, because it prepared his young team for the CWS. He says that Paul Mainieri "means everything to me...I wouldn't be sitting here right now if it wasn't for him."

1:01 p.m.
The NCAA is holding its first press conference of the day. Topics include the record TV ratings last year (didn't hurt that LSU was in the tournament); Omaha's new stadium that's being built down the street; ticket renewal rate at 99% for local-area ticket holders; the CWS Ticket Exchange process (where fans can re-sell and buy tickets online); and the CWS new "permanent" logo.

12:45 p.m.
Still raining here, but the forecast for tomorrow looks much better AM clouds/PM sun; high 78/low 60). The rain is supposed to move out by midnight tonight.

11:55 a.m.
Just as the Tigers finished their practice session, the NCAA pulled the tarp onto the infield. It's been sprinkling on and off for most of the morning. Coach Mainieri tried to throw his good friend and former assistant -- Virginia head coach Bryan O'Connor -- a bone by letting his team on the field early ... but the NCAA wouldn't allow it.

The team is headed to their autograph session now, which is located in the concourse area behind the third-base dugout. As always, there's a line all the way around the stadium for the LSU players.

11:45 a.m.
Check out the first "Buzz from Omaha" now! (Buzz homepage).

11:03 a.m.
Coach Mainieri's a little concerned about he scattered showers in the area -- wants to get his batting practice in, and wants the guys to have a chance to participate in tonight's opening ceremonies at Rosenblatt. From what we've been told, there's a chance of rain each day until the middle of next week. Crossing my fingers that we don't have any delays like last season. Nothing can mess up a pitching rotation like a long rain delay in the third inning.

After taking a team photo in front of the bronze statue at Rosenblatt, Mainieri along with Louis Coleman, Blake Dean and Jared Mitchell met with ESPN's personalities before the practice session.

Coach always has great stories to tell. Today, he was talking to Sean McDonough about playing in the Cape Cod League in the summer of 1978, and going to Fenway Park on days off to watch the Red Sox play.

While he was with ESPN, the rest of the team signed autographs for hundreds of kids.

The Tigers just took the field, so I'm heading back there. Here's a team photo that I shot (click for a larger view). We'll have a better one shot by a professional available on www.LSUpix.net later today.

8:56 a.m.
The team is loading a bus to Rosenblatt Stadium now. There's nothing in college baseball that can compare to the first glimpse of the stadium that a player gets in June. The stadium sit atop a hill and it is impossible to miss the bright blue, red and yellow color of the home to the College World Series.

There will be only two more CWS's at Rosenblatt, as a new stadium is being built about 3-4 miles down 10th street. Its title sponsor will be TD Ameritrade ($20 million over 20 years). The new stadium will cost $128 million. From what I gather, the situation is much like building new Alex Box Stadium -- a lot of fans love the "old stadium," but others understand the need to keep pace in the marketplace/business of baseball.

Back to this year: the Tigers will take their team photo at 10 a.m. in front of the stadium, then meet with ESPN for on- and off-camera interviews. LSU will be the third team to practice on the field at Rosenblatt, starting at 11 a.m. After practice, the Tigers will sign autographs for 30 minutes. Coach Paul Mainieri has a formal press conference at 2 p.m., and the team will return to the hotel for dinner before returning to the stadium for the opening ceremonies at 8:30 p.m.

It's going to be a long day for the team, but I know they're looking forward it it. After breakfast this morning, they received a pair of black Nike "Omaha-edition" cleats that have been accented with purple and gold (right). Most of the guys were pretty geeked up about getting the new kicks, so watch closely tomorrow night as I'm sure some will be wearing these against Virginia.

6:59 a.m.
Before getting down to business tomorrow, the teams at the College World Series get to enjoy the atmosphere of Rosenblatt today. It's an amazing thing to watch players' (and coaches) faces when the bus drives up to the stadium. For college baseball, this is the pinnacle.

LSU leaves the team hotel for Rosenblatt Stadium at 9 a.m. The Tigers will take a team photo in front of the stadium at 10 (check back on LSUpix.net later today to view and purchase the photo); then meet with ESPN for a series of on- and off-camera interviews; then take the field at 11 a.m. for a batting practice session; then sign autographs for 30 minutes starting at 12:30 p.m. At some point in between, the guys will eat a great BBQ lunch.

Coach Paul Mainieri will take part in his formal press conference at 2 p.m. (video coming later).

It's going to be a busy day, so check back with us later. If you're in Omaha already, team practices are open to the public. It won't be long before Omaha turns into "LSU North" once again.

Thursday, June 11

9:57 p.m.
from Bill Martin
Associate Sports Information Director

“Omaha, somewhere in middle America ...”

The Tigers are finally here back at the great Midwest city that the Counting Crows described in their 1990s hit song. It’s a place Louis Coleman defiantly said he and LSU would return to. I can remember the conversation well that the now senior pitcher had with head coach Paul Mainieri in the lobby of the Crowne Plaza Hotel a day after North Carolina eliminated the Tigers.

Unfinished business was the theme.

He came back for this opportunity and now a year later, that chance has arrived. After a grueling season full of monumental expectations, LSU lived up to its billing claiming a Southeastern Conference regular season title, an SEC Tournament title and running through the NCAA Regional and Super Regional to become one of the Omaha elite eight.

As they have shown the past two seasons, the Tigers are a very resilient group in everything they do and nothing seems to fluster them. That can be seen today. LSU left the parking lot of New Alex Box Stadium just after 9:30 a.m. via two charter buses. However, upon arriving to the airport the Southwest Airlines charter flight was delayed in Dallas due to inclement weather.  For the next four hours, the team and entire travel party sat there, but it didn’t seem to bother them.

What do you do when you spend four hours in a terminal at the Baton Rouge airport?

Nearly all of the players brought a laptop with them. For most, passing time included sleeping on the airport terminal floor, listening to iPods or watching the constant reruns of ESPN SportsCenter. But for Jared Mitchell, the delay included taking up another hobby -- as a photographer.

Mitchell, the first round pick of the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, grabbed LSU Athletic Department staff photographer Steve Franz’ camera and began his best impression of the paparazzi. Soon you will be able to see some of his fine work and a behind the scenes video of his shoot.

For the coaching staff, a delay is nothing more than an opportunity to watch film and study the tendencies of an opponent. Hitting coach Javi Sanchez and volunteer assistant Will Davis set up a portable DVD player in the airport snack bar to study the stellar Virginia pitching staff that awaits in Saturday night’s opener. 

After everyone downed a few Chick-fil-A sandwiches, we finally received word that the plane was en route from Dallas. At 2:15 p.m., Mainieri said to his team, “Who is ready for Omaha?” We boarded the plane and were on our way. This was a chance for most of us to get a nap in, especially the players who had to go through a night practice at Bellevue East High School.

The just-under two-hour flight landed at 4:30 p.m. at Eppley Airfield. When we left Baton Rouge it was 95 degrees and sunny. In Omaha, it’s a welcoming 70 degrees and mostly cloudy.

One of the great Omaha traditions when LSU comes to town, is the familiar face of bus driver “Big Jim” Williams. Williams, as you may have seen in last year’s College World Series blog, has driven LSU during its stay nearly everytime.

He has been the bus driver for four national championships -- 1993, 1996, 1997 and 2000. He will once again serve as the Tigers’ official driver on this trip. Several dozen fans greeted the team upon arrival just prior to 5:30 p.m. The eight-hour travel day is officially over. 

Night practice at Bellevue East allowed the players to get some swings in on the field and in the cages after the long travel day. The highlight – Sean Ochinko ripping one over the left field and off a car that happened to be the rental of a member of the LSU Athletic Department staff. No harm was done to the vehicle, but good to see the Tigers smashing pitches well over 400 feet.

Time for some dinner in the Downtown/Old Market area. It will be an eventful Friday as the Tigers make their return to Rosenblatt Stadium for an 11 a.m. practice and interviews with the ESPN crew that will include Mike Patrick, Orel Hershiser and Erin Andrews. Good evening from Omaha.

Quote of the Day
"It was the greatest decision I've ever made in my life. I wouldn't change it for the world. God has blessed me with the ability to stay healthy for an entire year and get back to Omaha.”
-- Louis Coleman in an ESPN.com story as written by Heather Dinich
Read More: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/news/story?id=4247996

6:38 p.m.
Just received photos of the team's trip from LSU staff photog Steve Franz -- including a half-dozen that LSU outfielder Jared Mitchell took when he grabbed Steve's camera in the Baton Rouge Airport. More to come from Steve throughout our stay in Omaha, including online albums after each game we play in the tournament.

Want to see more photos, including awesome dogpile images from last weekend? Visit www.LSUpix.net to view and purchase some of the best images from LSU Athletics.

The team departed at 6:15 p.m. for a short practice session.

5:18 p.m.
The team has arrived at the Embassy Suites in downtown Omaha.

One of the traditions at the College World Series is its involvement with the area's little league baseball teams. Each of the youth teams is paired with a college and wears its color uniforms throughout the season. If the college advances to the CWS, the little league team who wore those uniforms gets to meet the team and take part in other team events during the stay.

As soon as the LSU players got off the bus, they began signing autographs for the Omaha-area "Tigers".

4:29 p.m.
According to the Omaha Airport's website (and the half-dozen text messages I just received), the LSU charter (flight 8071) has landed. The drive from Eppley Airfield to the Embassy Suites in Downtown/Old Market is only about 10 minutes.

There are purple and gold balloons and College World Series banners waiting for the team in the lobby. The team will practice at Bellevue East High School this evening...time TBD.

More on the Tigers' revised evening plans including a blog entry from associate SID Bill Martin that recaps the long day of travel coming soon!

2:40 p.m.
After about four hours at the airport, the LSU baseball team is on its way to Omaha. Here's an image of the Tigers' charter airplane that was stuck in Dallas. Thanks to Herb Vincent for the picture with his phone.

12:07 p.m. (Omaha, Neb.)
For the LSU baseball team, the "Road to Omaha" was fine -- it's the flight that's been a problem. Bad weather in Dallas prevented the Tigers' charter aircraft from arriving in Baton Rouge on time, delaying their 11 a.m. flight a couple of hours.

Jim Hawthorne and I were "lucky" enough to take a commercial flight at 5:15 this morning through Atlanta and then on to Omaha. We arrived at the team hotel within the hour...but we don't know when the team will be able to join us.

The team was scheduled to arrive in Omaha at 1 p.m. CT and then practice at Bellevue East High School (just south of Omaha) at 4:30 p.m. That's sure to change a bit. We'll keep you updated as the day goes on.

For past blogs, read the NCAA Regional and Super Regional Blog from the Box, Find LSU Athletics on Facebook and on Twitter.

Wednesday, June 10

7:17 p.m.
Packing for (hopefully) two weeks isn't easy. Last year, we played only three games but were in Omaha for nine days. On the plane ride back to Baton Rouge, some people -- including yours truely -- were wearing the last pair of boxers in the bag.

The weather in Omaha looks to be cooler through this weekend (high 70s/high 50s) with decent chance of scattered thunderstorms until next Wednesday when it warms significantly into the 90s.

Those driving from Baton Rouge to Omaha for the first time should know that the route through Texas and the one along the Mississippi River are about the same when it comes to travel time -- within about 30 minutes. I've made both drives. The I-55 route through St. Louis might have a little more to see than the Texas/Oklahoma/Kansas drive. Kansas was a little more hilly than I expected....

When you approach Rosenblatt Stadium, you might notice that there aren't a lot of places to park close to the stadium -- and plenty of parking officers to let you know where you CAN'T park. However, there are several neighborhood within walking distance of the stadium where you can either pay to park in a make-shift lot or park on the street in front of a house. Please be courteous in around around other people's property, of course.

Finally, about tickets: I went as a fan several years ago and went through the process of buying "general admission" tickets to all of the games. Though a few things have changed since then, I had no problem finding tickets to all LSU games outside the stadium on the day of the game for the face value of the ticket. Be prepared to get in the "General Admission" line early (before the gates open) to get a seat. The line will be long, but it clears out fast once the gates open.

Visit www.CWSomaha.com for details.

Monday, June 8

9:09 p.m.
The NCAA announced the CWS bracket, and LSU's first game will be Saturday at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN-HD. LSU will then play on Monday at either 1 p.m. (loser's bracket) or 6 p.m. (winner's bracket). The teams in the field are (1) Texas, (2) Cal St. Fullerton, (3) LSU, (4) North Carolina, (5) Arizona St., Arkansas, Virginia and Southern Miss.

11:43 a.m.
The College World Series field is nearly complete, as seven of the eight teams have been determined. No. 1-seeded Texas faces TCU tonight at 6 p.m. on ESPN2 for the last spot.

Tonight at 9 p.m. CT, ESPN will announce the bracket and game times/days for the four opening games. LSU will face Virginia on either Saturday or Sunday, with games times at 1 and 6 p.m. CT each day.

The other two teams on LSU's side of the double-elimination bracket are Cal State Fullerton and Arkansas.

For complete details on LSU's trip to Omaha, visit College World Series Central on LSUsports.net.

Once again, "The Buzz from Omaha" is back! Watch Buzzy Haydel's video diary here!

 

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