BATON ROUGE -- A six-run fifth inning highlighted by Ryan Schimpf’s three-run homer propelled top-ranked LSU to a 12-9 victory over No. 6 Rice in Game 1 of the NCAA Super Regional Friday night in front of a record crowd of 9,375 at Alex Box Stadium.
With the win, the Tigers (50-16) snapped their 0-6 record against Rice (43-17) in the regional and super regional play. The Owls had previously eliminated LSU in the 1995, 2002 and 2005, defeating the Tigers twice each time.
The teams will square off in game 2 of the Baton Rouge Super Regional Saturday at 4 p.m. CT. If LSU wins Saturday’s game, the Tigers will advance to the College World Series for the 15th time in school history.
Saturday’s game will be televised on ESPN and can be heard on the LSU Sports Radio Network (WDGL 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge). Live audio and stats can also be accessed in the Geaux Zone at www.lsusports.net.
The winning pitcher was Anthony Ranaudo (10-3), who pitched a solid 7.2 innings, allowing five runs (only one earned) on five hits with nine strikeouts. Ranaudo’s nine strikeouts give him 148 this season moving him into sole possession of seventh-place on LSU’s all-time list for strikeouts in a single season.
The Owls went up 1-0 in the second inning when LSU shortstop Austin Nola attempted to throw out Anthony Rendon at third. Ranuado fielded Chad Mozingo’s groundball up the middle and threw to Nola to corner Rendon in a rundown.
Nola’s throw went over Hanover’s head at third, allowing Rendon to scamper home. Mozingo advanced to third when the ball rolled into the Rice dugout.
Rice went up 2-0 when the next batter, left fielder Michael Fuda hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Mozingo.
The Owls made the score 3-0 in the fourth when Rendon reached first on an error by Hanover and scored on Fuda’s single up the middle.
Rice answered in the fifth when centerfielder Steven Sultzbaugh hit a solo homer to lead off the inning making the score 4-1 in favor of Rice. The homer was Sultzbaugh’s eighth of the season.
The Tigers responded in the bottom of the frame when Hanover led off with a double and scored on a single by DJ LeMahieu to make the score 4-2.
Nola, who was hit by a pitch, and LeMahieu moved into scoring position after a Mike Ojala wild pitch. Ojala left the game after the wild pitch, giving way to left-hander Taylor Wall.
Schimpf blasted Wall’s second offering deep over the wall in right-center putting the Tigers ahead 5-4 with no outs in the fifth. It was Schimpf’s 19th homer of the season.
Dean followed with a single and reached second on a sacrifice bunt by catcher Micah Gibbs. The next batter, Mikie Mahtook, singled to left, advancing Dean to third. Wall (7-6) left the game after Mahtook’s single, giving way to right-hander Matthew Reckling.
The first batter Reckling faced was Ochinko, who ripped a double down the leftfield line, scoring Dean and Mahtook to give LSU a 7-4 advantage.
LSU continued the scoring in the sixth when LeMahieu walked and later scored on a double by Schimpf, increasing the Tigers’ lead to 8-4. After an error by Sultzbaugh in centerfield, Schimpf was able to advance to third.
The next batter, Dean launched a sacrifice fly to deep center, scoring Schimpf and extending LSU’s lead to 9-4.
The Owls responded with two outs in the eighth when Rendon blasted a two-run homer off Paul Bertuccini to cut the deficit to 9-6. Bertuccini retired the next batter, Mozingo, on a fly out to end the inning.
Dean singled in the eighth and reached second on a error by first baseman Jimmy Comerota. Comerota’s error allowed LeMahieu to score, making the score 10-6 in favor of LSU. The Tigers made the score 11-6 when Mahtook was hit by a pitch, allowing Schimpf to score.
Jared Mitchell’s fielder’s choice with the bases loaded scored Dean and made the score 12-6.
The Owls notched three runs in the ninth, highlighted by a two-run homer by second baseman Brock Holt, making the score 12-9.
LSU 12, Rice 9 (Jun 05, 2009 at Baton Rouge, La.)
Rice................. 020 110 023 - 9 9 2 (43-17)
LSU................. 000 162 03X - 12 12 4 (50-16)
Pitchers: Rice - Mike Ojala; Taylor Wall(5); Matthew Reckling(5); Matt Evers(6);
LSU - Anthony Ranaudo; Paul Bertuccini (8); Buzzy Haydel (9).
Win-Anthony Ranaudo (10-3) Loss-Taylor Wall (7-6) T-3:27 A-9923
HR RICE - Brock Holt (11); Anthony Rendon (20); Steven Sultzbaugh (8).
HR LSU - Ryan Schimpf (19).
Actual attendance: 9,375
Largest actual attendance in (original or new) Alex Box Stadium history.
Ojala faced 3 batters in the 5th.
Reckling faced 2 batters in the 6th.
Evers faced 4 batters in the 8th.
LSU HEAD COACH PAUL MAINIERI
“We’re happy with the victory. I don’t think our game tape would be taken and put in an instructional video library. We made several mistakes early in the game. As this team has done repeatedly, they played very courageously. They didn’t give up when things weren’t going well. We made a couple of errors. They scored a couple of runs, and we fell behind. Their pitcher was really tricking us early. We took a couple of swings, and all of a sudden, Ryan Schimpf gets the big home run which really gave us a tremendous lift. In the meantime, (Anthony) Ranaudo didn’t have his best stuff tonight, but he pitched like a warrior and the warrior that he is. In the middle innings, we needed him to keep us in the game, and he did. When we got the lead, we knew he was going to get the job done.”
On sacrifice bunt situation in fifth inning...
“We wanted to move our guys up on the bases, and I thought that it called for a sacrifice bunt situation. I thought Blake (Dean) would be able to drive them home and once the pitcher threw the ball in the dirt, the runners were able to move up, and we let Blake swing.”
On starting game off slowly but then picking up momentum...
“When we played Southern, we struggled through several innings, and in the press conference I talked about why baseball is played in nine innings. This game was another example of that. For four innings or so, we were having a tough time with their pitcher. He threw a lot of breaking balls, and we were having a lot of trouble picking them up. The pitcher was befuddling us a little bit. The kids hung in there and kept battling. We got some big hits. I think our offense started putting it together. I always tell the kids that when you play good teams, you have to have extraordinary offensive nights. Ryan (Schimpf) had four RBIs, and (Sean) Ochinko had three. When Ochinko put that ball in to play with two outs, that kid made a heck of a play when the ball was topped over his head and he jumped and was able to make the play and get the force-out at third, and that at least broke the ice for us and got the goose egg off the board. Then of course later on Schimpf was able to get the big hit. We had two guys who really stepped it up for us tonight and got some RBIs. That’s what your offense has to be. You have to have a couple of guys who have a big night if you want to have a big game.”
On prediction for tomorrow’s game...
“Well I can tell you who we’re pitching. I would have predicted a low-scoring game today, so what do I know about this sport? Tomorrow we have (Louis) Coleman going and they have (Ryan) Berry I assume. Those are two great pitchers. I’m sure both kids are going to play really hard and are going to have a great game.”
LSU Player Quotes
P ANTHONY RANAUDO
On his performance...
“I was just real proud of our team tonight. It was a total team effort. Like Coach (Mainieri) said, it wasn’t the prettiest one, but we got the job done. In the beginning we made a few errors and gave up some runs early, but the offense battled back and really carried us today and got a bunch of key hits in a huge inning. It was just a total team effort and a big win for us.”
On pitching with more run support and if the errors frustrated him...
“I think it’s a little natural to feel that way (about the errors), but (CF Mikie) Mahtook made a great play and (2B) D.J. Lemahieu made a great play in that inning to pick me up when I was missing my spots. So when guys make errors I try not to let it bother me at all because I know that all year they’ve backed me up consistently and made great plays like they did tonight. As far as pitching with a lead, it was pretty comfortable. It was great to have that huge inning and really shut them down after that. We let our batters relax and after that they just kept putting up runs.”
On why he’s able to pitch so well in the later innings...
“I don’t know what it is, but the deeper the game goes, the more comfortable I get. I don’t know if it’s just that I’m up there in my pitch count and I feel comfortable in my delivery and my release point or what it is. As the game goes on, I try to get a lot more focused and hopefully it’s been helping me out. I’ve ben doing a lot better later in games.
1B SEAN OCHINKO
On his two-run double in the fifth inning...
“I knew when they brought the right-hander in they were going to throw me sliders. Coach told me they would throw (slider) and I think it was a 1-0 pitch that I was able to hit down the line. This time of the year it’s all about driving in runs and winning. I was glad I was able to do that for our team tonight.”
LF RYAN SCHIMPF
On his three-run home run in the fifth inning...
“We had some great at-bats earlier in the inning to get it going. I had two terrible at-bats previously in the game and I just tried to... get it out of my mind. I wasn’t looking for a home run, I was just trying to drive something up the middle and stay through it. Fortunately, I was able to put a pretty good swing on it and get it out there. It was a good team effort tonight and it’s a good win for us.”
On the pitching change in the middle of his at-bat (LHP Wall in for RHP Ojala)...
“It didn’t really matter to me. (Ojala) got me the two previous at-bats and I tried not to let it phase me. They put in a new guy and I had to deal with it and it didn’t bother me too much, I just tried to stay through it and hit something up the middle.”
RICE HEAD COACH WAYNE GRAHAM QUOTES
Opening statement ...
“LSU out-hit us. They did a great job of hitting so you have to give them credit for that. I thought we competed well, but we had too many mistakes.”
On pitcher Taylor Wall ...
“Taylor Wall threw enough to give him some rest until Sunday, if we get there. In fact, I think he would be stimulated I think.”
On his thoughts on the pitching staff before the game ...
“We knew that we were probably going to need another pitcher, Mike can only go around 90 pitches max. We put Walden in there.”
On pitcher Mike Ojala’s performance ...
“He kind of lost his touch a bit, but I thought he did a great for a while. He had six strikeouts in four innings.”
On his thoughts about the game ...
“You don’t expect that from two strong teams, no. Things happen. We got an early break when they threw the run down away, a big break, I thought things looked good because of that. I didn’t think we swung the bat badly at all. There was a lot of good pitching out there and we scored some runs. We just have to come out and do some things right tomorrow.”
RICE PLAYER QUOTES
3B Anthony Rendon
On his performance at the plate...
“I came in knowing that Ranaudo was a good pitcher. I tried to go up there and put the bat to the ball like I’ve been doing all season. I wasn’t trying to do much but just help bring in runs.”
On how/ what made LSU come back ...
“LSU’s crowd is very hype and they really get into the game. When the crowd begins to go with the players you start feeding off of them and their excitement. Tonight the crowd was hyped up for the Tigers. We saw them start to get pumped up and we could not settle them down.”
On the improvements they need for tomorrow ...
“We have to start thinking about the game ahead which is tomorrow. I can’t tell you what really went wrong tonight we had them for a good while then they took control and we could not get it back. We need to play one play at a time.”
P Mike Ojala
On his performance tonight ...
“It’s bad news. You can’t hit and walk people if you’re trying to win the game.”
On how the Tigers came back ...
“I thought I should have got myself out of many of the situations out there tonight. I couldn’t there is not much to say about it.”