Ninth-Inning Homer Snaps Baseball's 25-Game Streak, 3-1
LSU Sports Interactive
BATON ROUGE -- Illinois catcher Aaron Johnson delivered a two-run blast in the top of the ninth inning to break a 1-1 tie and lift the Illini past No. 1 LSU, 3-1, Friday night in Alex Box Stadium.
Illinois (6-1) took advantage of a pair of LSU errors, which led to all three unearned runs, to capture the victory and end the Tigers’ 25-game regular-season winning streak, dating back to last season. LSU fell to 9-1 with Friday’s loss.
Illinois right-hander Corey Kimes (1-0) earned the win after striking out the side in the eighth before Johnson drove in the go-ahead runs on his second dinger of the season. LSU senior Louis Coleman (2-1) was charged with the loss.
The Illini victory spoiled an outstanding effort from LSU starter Anthony Ranaudo, who registered a career-high 12 strikeouts and allowed only one unearned run in seven innings of work. Illinois starter Phil Haig also enjoyed a solid outing as the southpaw hurled seven innings and surrendered only one earned run.
“We really did not play a very good game tonight,” LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said. “We made several mistakes on the base paths and made a couple of key errors. In a low scoring game, those things are going to come back and bite you, and they did tonight.”
The Illini capitalized on a throwing error in the top of the first to score the first run of the game and take an early 1-0 lead. However, Ranaudo settled in and kept Illinois at bay, striking out eight through five innings and holding the Illini to only a one-run advantage.
Senior right fielder Nicholas Pontiff put the Tigers on the scoreboard in the bottom of fifth, leading off the frame with his first home run of the season to tie it at 1-1.
Meanwhile, Ranaudo continued his dominance on the mound as the righty fanned three straight in the top of the seventh to keep the game tied at one run apiece.
After Kimes struck out three straight to end the bottom of the eighth, Illinois left fielder Casey McMurray reached on an error to lead off the ninth. Two batters later, Johnson turned on the first pitch of his at-bat and drilled it into the left field bleachers to give the Illini a two-run advantage.
The Tigers put the tying runs on first base in the bottom of the frame after Sean Ochinko singled and Pontiff reached on a fielding error, but Illinois closer Nick Chmielewski struck out two consecutive batters to record his second save of the season.
The LSU-Illinois series resumes Saturday at 2 p.m. (CST). The game can be heard on the LSU Sports Radio Network (98.1 FM), and live video, audio and stats will be available in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net.
Illinois 3, LSU 1 (Mar 06, 2009 at Baton Rouge, La.)
Illinois............. 100 000 002 - 3 6 1 (6-1)
LSU................. 000 010 000 - 1 9 2 (9-1)
Pitchers: Illinois - Haig, Phil; Kimes, Corey(8); Chmielewski, Nick(9).
LSU - Anthony Ranaudo; Louis Coleman(8).
Win-Kimes, Corey(1-0) Save-Chmielewski, Nick(2) Loss-Louis Coleman(2-1) T-2:31 A-10246
HR ILL - Johnson, Aaron (2).
HR LSU - Nicholas Pontiff (1).
Actual Attendance: 7,640