BATON ROUGE -- LSU shortstop Austin Nola delivered a game-winning RBI single in the top of the 10th inning to break a 2-2 tie and lead the second-ranked Tigers past Baylor, 3-2, in Game 4 of the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional Saturday night in Alex Box Stadium.
The Tigers (48-16) will look to clinch the regional Sunday night at 6 p.m. (CDT) when they face the winner of the game between Baylor (30-25) and Minnesota (39-18), who eliminated Southern earlier in the day. The Bears and Golden Gophers will play at 1 p.m. Sunday.
All regional games are televised on CST and live video is available at www.LSUsports.net/live.
LSU starter Anthony Ranaudo (9-3) recorded the victory with a magnificent performance as the right-hander limited Baylor to only three hits and one earned run in a career-high nine innings and struck out 14. Right-hander Matty Ott finished off the Bears with a perfect 10th inning to register his school-record 15th save of the season. Ott broke Rick Greene's 18-year-old record.
Nola, who finished 2-for-4, was one of three Tigers to collect a pair of hits on the evening. Outfielders Jared Mitchell and Mikie Mahtook also notched two hits apiece, and Mitchell launched his ninth home run of the season.
“Anthony Ranaudo -- that was the story of the game,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “That was one of the greatest performances I’ve ever witnessed. The stakes were up in this game and he had not just unbelievable talent but he was courageous and made the big pitches at the critical times and basically put the team on his shoulders. It would have been one of the biggest shames of all time if we hadn’t pulled that one out after that kind of pitching performance.
“We finally got a couple of hits with runners in scoring position (in the 10th inning). (Sean) Ochinko came in after sitting on the bench for nine innings and gave us a big base hit and then, of course, Austin (Nola) with the big hit was fantastic. I thought Jared (Mitchell) was really the story for us offensively with his home run and then his clutch steals. He played a terrific game for us offensively. We feel very grateful to win this game, Baylor pitched awesome, especially their last two. I give so much credit to their pitchers.”
Mitchell gave the Tigers an early 1-0 advantage with a solo homer over the right field wall in the top of the second inning.
The Tigers added another run in the top of the fourth to extend their lead to 2-0. Catcher Micah Gibbs and Mahtook each singled, and Mitchell drew a walk to load the bases before second baseman DJ LeMahieu drove in Gibbs on a grounder to short.
Meanwhile, Ranaudo kept Baylor at bay, allowing only one hit and striking out seven through the first four innings.
The Bears struck back in the bottom of sixth with a solo shot off the bat of catcher Gregg Glime to cut the deficit to 2-1, but Ranaudo regained his composure, retiring six of the next seven batters and fanning the side in the seventh.
Baylor tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the eighth. With two outs and runners on second and third, second baseman Joey Hainsfurther reached on an error to plate a run.
However, Ranaudo continued to impress in the ninth, striking out the side for the second time in three innings before the Tiger bats came through in the top of the 10th.
Following walks to Mitchell and LeMahieu and a base hit from pinch-hitter Sean Ochinko to load the bases with one out, Nola lined a single into center field to bring home the go-ahead run and put the Tigers up, 3-2.
Ott entered in the bottom of the frame and struck out the first batter he faced before inducing a pair of line outs to close out the game.
Baylor right-hander Kendal Volz (3-7), who surrendered the game-winning run in the 10th, was charged with the loss.
LSU 3, Baylor 2 (May 30, 2009 at Baton Rouge, La.)
LSU.................. 010 100 000 1 - 3 9 1 (48-16)
Baylor.............. 000 001 010 0 - 2 3 1 (30-25)
Pitchers: LSU - Anthony Ranaudo; Matty Ott(10).
Baylor - Tolleson, Shawn; Miller, Aaron(5); Volz, Kendal(8).
Win-Anthony Ranaudo(9-3) Save-Matty Ott(15) Loss-Volz, Kendal(3-7) T-3:17 A-9936
HR LSU - Jared Mitchell (9).
HR BU - Glime, Gregg (3).
Actual Attendance: 9,149
Actual attendance is the largest in Alex Box Stadium history.
LSU HEAD COACH PAUL MAINIERI
“I’ll keep it brief – Anthony Ranaudo. That was the story of the game. Period. That was one of the greatest I’ve ever witnessed. The stakes were up in this game and he had not just unbelievable talent but hr was courageous and made the big pitches at the critical times and basically put the team on his shoulders. It would have been one of the biggest shames of all time if we hadn’t pulled that one out after that kind of pitching performance. We finally got a couple of hits with runners in scoring position (in the 10th inning). (Sean) Ochinko came in after sitting on the bench for nine innings and gave us a big base hit and then, of course, Austin (Nola) with the big hit was fantastic. I thought Jared (Mitchell) was really the story for us offensively with his home run and then his clutch steals. He played a terrific game for us offensively. We feel very grateful to win this game, Baylor pitched awesome, especially their last two. I give so much credit to their pitchers.”
On if he felt like the momentum turned when they were unable to score more runs with the bases loaded in the fourth inning...
“I get as frustrated as the people watching the game, believe me. You coach them up and explain tings... (Mikie) Mahtook has been doubled off on line drives three times this year and he’s so shell shocked about that and I promise you the kid was not going to move if he thought it was a line drive, but he forgot it was a ground ball and there was a force out and he was supposed to run. I think kids learn that when they’re five years old and they just start playing the game. But remember he’s only 18 years old and playing in front of 10,000 people in a huge ball game and the more he doesn’t want to do something wrong, the more he tries to not do something wrong, the more he’ll do something else wrong ... They make those mistakes, they learn from them and you go forward.”
On what happened when Jared Mitchell was picked off at second base...
“I meant to tell Jared not to go and I got distracted for a moment and when the count when to 2-0 I wasn’t going to let him run, but I got distracted by something else so it was my fault for not taking off the ‘you’re on your own’ sign. If I was where I should have been, which was ‘don’t go’, he wouldn’t have been picked off. I’ll take the blame for that.”
On if he sensed any frustration from the players in the dugout...
“I’m sure the coach gets more frustrated than the players do. The players are unbelievable. They have such a great attitude. They make mistakes, but they sure do forget them quickly, which is probably a good thing. I didn’t sense any frustration at all from the players. The coach was frustrated because we had some opportunities that we could have capitalized on and the game wouldn’t have been as close as it was. It was really a shame that we gave up three hits and struck out 125 batters and we’re in danger of losing a ballgame. In the end, we’re going home happy and that’s all that counts.”
LSU PLAYER QUOTES
P Anthony Renaudo
“This atmosphere was awesome. It was fun to be a part of. Being here last year and being in the postseason last year was awesome, but it was also awesome to be a starter in this game and to be a starter in one of the first regionals in the new Alex Box Stadium. The way the team backed me up when I needed it today, the way the offense came in in the clutch, Austin’s (Nola) clutch hit and Jared’s (Mitchell) stolen base was a great team effort and win for us. It gave us a lot of momentum going in to tomorrow and hopefully the rest of the postseason.”
On umpire’s strike zone...
“To be honest with you, I never asked the umpire or Micah (Gibbs) about the strike zone. I know that’s part of the game. I think, personally, that those pitches might have been high, so that umpire did a great job behind the plate tonight. He was very consistent tonight, and when an umpire is consistent it makes it easy to work with.”
On ninth inning performance and atmosphere...
“I felt better in the ninth than I did in the first. For some reason, that’s the way I work. I feel like I get stronger as the game goes on. I felt that toward the end of the game I could put the ball in a teacup. I was hitting my spots... I was disappointed that I had 130 pitches.”
“I think the fans tell the story in the way the team reacted. It was good that I had to strike out the side in that inning and got everyone pumped up. We scored a run that inning. The guys were emotional, and everyone played really hard and played with our hearts out.”
“That at-bat, I batted really well. The pitcher did really well. He threw strikes and stayed in the zone a lot. I got a pitch that I got my hands to and was able to get a good hit, and it carried out of the park. We got stolen base opportunities with guys who had high leg kicks and balls that were slow to the plate. When I got good jumps, I just went for it.”
On approach while at-bat...
“I try to work early in the count if I get pitches I can really handle. If not, I’m not going to chase pitches but find ways on. If I do that then it causes problems for the defense. My approach is finding a way on at any cost and to try to hit the pitches that you can handle in the strike zone.”
SS Austin Nola
“Coach told me to be aggressive, so when I got up to the plate I swung at the first pitch and completely missed it, but I knew when I was up there that Jared (Mitchell) was on third base and all I had to do was hit it out of the reach of someone or hit it in the air even if it was shallow because I knew that Jared (Mitchell) was going to score. It all worked out well.”
On confidence from recent clutch hits...
“My confidence is definitely getting better each time. I’m seeing a few more pitches and working the count in deep. Sometimes I tend to get out early in the count. Lately I’ve been getting good pitches to hit and everything’s going well with hitting the ball and trying to battle up there.”
BAYLOR HEAD COACH STEVE SMITH
Opening statement ...
“If there is a difference between a horse and a stallion, I’d call (Anthony Ranaudo) a stallion. I just thought it was a tremendous effort on his part. I say that because I think our guys gave every bit the same effort. I was extremely proud of the way we played and competed. It was a great experience and venue to have this type of game in. It literally was, I think, in many ways a game of inches. (LSU) got in the red zone a lot and didn’t convert. It kept us in the game and gave us a chance, but they were able to get that last one in. Tip your hat to them, but I thought that the pitching on both sides was outstanding.”
On whom he believes he will start pitching against Minnesota ...
“I think that right now I will start Jon Ringenberg in the first inning and go from there.”
On the Baylor pitching staff ...
“I think they are making a lot of good pitches. You have the top of the LSU order that is very potent. Our guys tried to make good pitches and not leave something over the plate. It was an all or nothing approach so they were trying to be very careful and that led to some of the walks tonight. I thought Sean got us off to a good start. I thought that the whole game, the only reason it was a game, is because we were able to get out of some innings throughout the game. I thought we got good mileage out of everyone playing out there.”
On Anthony Ranaudo ...
“I referred to him as a stallion. We went into the game knowing that you could look at the numbers and know a lot about a guy. When he has got that many strikeouts, you know he has some great stuff. Our game plan was, hopefully, to get his pitch count early in the game to the point where he couldn’t stay out there for nine innings and throw 130 pitches. He didn’t walk us early. The first at-bat of the game, Dickerson struck out with balls up in the zone. After that we were batting around, but when a guy is throwing that good, it’s tough. There were some 3-2 counts that he won and there were some 3-2 counts that we won. We tied the game up and we were able to work a walk, but I thought (Ranaudo) was outstanding.”
BAYLOR PLAYER QUOTES
P Kendal Volz
On the 10th inning...
“I was trying to throw some good pitches and get some outs. I ended up walking some guys on very close pitches. Really, I was trying to get a ground ball with Ochinko who got that hit of the bat. It didn’t hit the right part of the bat like I hoped for. But, later I was able to get a pop-out and a strike out. LSU is a good hitting team. We knew that coming in and we have to give them credit. They really battle for every pitch. We need to make good pitches and make things go our way.”
On the calls of the umpire ...
“The umpire was doing a good job. That’s part of baseball.”
On possibly playing LSU again tomorrow ...
“It showed us that we took their (LSU) best punch. We need to make sure we take care of business tomorrow. We play at 1 p.m. which means we get another shot at them. It’s all or nothing right now. We have to win every game from here on out.”
SS Shaver Hansen
On Anthony Ranaudo ...
“He came out with great stuff. He is a really great pitcher. He located his fast ball and blew it by us in the beginning. We started to catch up. We took some really good hacks but when a pitcher is on it’s very tough to beat. Our pitchers were amazing too, they matched pitch for pitch. There is that one pitch with a home run that barley got over the fence which made it a 1-0 difference. Tonight, I thought all the pitchers were amazing.”
On Gregg Glime’s home run ...
“From my angle I definitely thought it was fair. I didn’t even think it was foul. Of course it sparked us when you are down two to nothing. With that home run it put of within one run. To see Gregg hit a home run in a big time situation was big for us and it really got us excited.”