LSU Wins The College World Series
Everthing came full-circle for LSU baseball when Paul Mainieri’s Tigers won the program’s sixth national championship on June 24th. The program that started the decade with a title in 2000 ended the decade with a championship as well.
Louis Coleman was LSU’s opening day starter at the new Alex Box Stadium back on Feb. 20, and he appropriately got the last six outs of the season in the Tiger’s 11-4 win over Texas on June 24 in the last game of the 2009 college baseball season. It was one of nine relief outings for Coleman (14-2, 2.93 ERA), who returned to Baton Rouge for his senior season for the chance to bring home a title.
Coleman and staff mate Anthony Ranaudo combined to go 3-0 with 30 strikeouts in 29 2/3 IP in seven combined appearances at the CWS.
In 2007 Mainieri inherited a team that had gone 35-24 a season prior to his arrival. The Tigers were just 29-26-1 and missed the NCAA Tournament for a second straight year in his first season back in Baton Rouge (he played there for a year an met his wife before transferring).
Blake Dean and Sean Ochinko led LSU with 7 home runs apiece in ’07, but Dean’s 17
HRs made him one of four Tigers to hit at least 11 long balls in 2009. Ryan Schimpf led LSU with 22.
LSU’s run to the national championship actually started with a 4-1 loss to Vanderbilt on May 20 to open the SEC Tournament. However, the Tigers rattled-off 14 straight wins before finally losing 5-1 to Texas in game two of the CWS Championship Series. The Bayou Bengals outscored their opponents 117-47 in that month-long stretch.
Four of those wins came against 2008 College World Series teams (Georgia and Rice twice each). LSU’s first game at the ’09 CWS was against Virginia, coached by Mainieri protege Brian O’Connor. The two had taken Notre Dame to Omaha in 2002 when Mainieri was ND’s head coach and O’Connor was his pitching coach.
LSU was simply across the board dominant in Omaha. The Tigers posted a .313 team batting average, averaged 8.4 runs in 6 games, hit 13 home runs (2nd to Texas’ 14), had a 4.18 team ERA (Texas #1 at 4.02), an had a .991 fielding percentage with just two errors at the CWS.
Jared Mitchell was named College World Series Most Outstanding Player after hitting .348 with 2 HR, a triple, two doubles, 7 RBIs, and a .783 slg%. Ochinko, who had hit 7 home runs prior to the CWS, had two home runs to cap his senior campaign.
When LSU Athletic Director Skip Bertman (himself a winner of five national titles as LSU baseball coach) hired Mainieri on June 28, 2006 he said “It would take someone special to lead this program … someone who would thrive in the high expectations of a championship program. I believe LSU has found that man.”
On June 24, 2009 the circle was completed.
CLICK HERE to listen to the exclusive podcast interview Collegebaseball360.com Editor Sean Stires recorded with Paul Mainieri after LSU’s national championship win.
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