Mikie Mahtook, Austin Nola and Blake Dean all smashed homers as the Tigers whipped the Razorbacks 9-1 in a College World Series match-up Monday night before 23,417 fans at Rosenblatt Stadium.
It was the 12th straight win for LSU (53-16), who got a sterling pitching effort from senior All-American Louis Coleman (14-2)and scored all of its runs with two outs in the match-up between SEC foes.
"It was just a disappointing game," Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. "We didn't do anything. Give credit to Coleman. I thought Louis pitched great and we didn't pitch so great and we didn't play as well as we wanted."
LSU advances to a Friday night game against the winner of Wednesday's 6 p.m. elimination game between Arkansas (40-23) and Virginia (49-14-1), who ousted Cal-State Fullerton 7-5 on Monday afternoon.
"Obviously I am very proud of our effort tonight," LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said. "It's hard to find much to be upset about in the ballgame. I guess we left a few too many runners on base (both teams left 11) and did not capitalize on those opportunities. But that is about the only thing I can say.
"I think we played a pretty solid game on defense," Mainieri added. "I thought Louis was outstanding - a little bit rocky at the beginning when he was just missing with some of his pitches, but he got very aggressive and as he does all the time he got stronger as the game went on."
The Tigers need just one more win to advance to next week's best 2-of-3 championship series while the Razorbacks must win three games – including beating LSU twice - to get there.
Arkansas shortstop Ben Tschepikow said his team certainly wasn't packing it in.
"We have been bouncing back all year," Tschepikow said. "It is important for us to come out tomorrow and have a good practice and know that anything can happen. It's a tournament and we are not out of it. We have came back all year. We have battled all year, we've been fighting all year. We have showed character throughout the whole year...We know it is not over and we are still capable of winning it."
LSU had 13 hits off four pitchers while the UA hitters could manage just six of their nine against Coleman, who went six innings while throwing 106 pitches.
The SEC's pitcher of the year fanned 7 and walked just 2 in his effort – not quite as good as his complete game, two-hit blanking of Arkansas in the regular season but still plenty good enough.
"He was locating his fastball really well, throwing it to both sides of the plate really well and his slider was lights out tonight," Arkansas first baseman Andy Wilkins said. "He gave us problems up and down the line-up."
As they did in Fayetteville earlier in the season, LSU got to Arkansas starter Brett Eibner early.
Eibner (5-5) came within one strike of a scoreless first inning, but his 31st pitch of the frame ended up in the seats.
Mahtook drove that two-out, two-strike pitch into the left field stands to plate D. J. LeMahieu and Ryan Schimpf.
"Mikie hits that three run homer and it is off to the races for us," Mainieri said. "When you give Coleman a good lead you feel pretty confident about your chances."
Schimpf deserved a lot of credit for continually fouling off pitches and making Eibner throw 13 before walking him.
"I thought Ryan Schimpf's at-bat was really one of the better at-bats of the year," Mainieri said. "That was amazing. He just kept battling that kid and give credit to Eibner, too, because he just pumping strikes in there. He ended up getting that walk and I think that really set the tone for the game."
Arkansas did cut it to 3-1 in the bottom of the first when Tschepikow doubled, Scott Lyons singled and Wilkins brought home the run with a sacrifice fly.
The Tigers added their fourth two-out run in the second when LeMahieu singled and Schimpf doubled him home for a 4-1 advantage.
Eibner's night was done when his 59th pitch of the night walked Blake Dean and brought in reliever T.J. Forrest.
"It was all about location," Van Horn said. "It didn't have anything to do with velocity. He had good velocity...Everything Brett threw was mid-thigh to chest high - everything. There weren't too many strikes down around the knees. You can't live there against good teams because it is just a matter of time before they hurt you and they did."
Arkansas had several chances to cut into that lead, leaving 7 runners on base through the first five innings.
That included stranding the bases loaded in the third when Coleman fanned pinch-hitter Jacob House.
"We didn't hit the ball hard," Van Horn said. "We were striking out, hitting weak ground balls, whatever. If we get a hit and cut that lead we are right there. We have been getting that hit, but just give credit to Louis Coleman. He did a good job pitching out of some jams. Good pitchers - that's what they do. That's why they have low ERAs. Runners get in scoring position and they get a little tougher."
Forrest pitched 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to give his team a chance to come back, but LSU touched him up in the sixth.
Austin Nola hit a solo blast and then Blake Dean's two-run clout chased Forrest and put LSU up 7-1.
Omaha native Sam Murphy entered for the Razorbacks at that point.
Jared Mitchell's RBI single combined with a run-scoring error had the Tigers ahead 9-1 before the inning was over.
"Early in the game until they scored the five we thought we were just one hit away or a walk and a home run or whatever," Van Horn said."They just out it out of reach there in the sixth."
"You just have to give credit to Coleman," Van Horn said. "He just pitched outstanding and we got off to a bad start - giving up a three-run homer with two outs. That hurt and then they scored another run in the second with two outs. They just kept driving in runs with two outs.
"In the sixth inning we still felt like we were in the game because we were getting runners on, but we weren't driving them in - and then they punch in three or four more with two outs," Van Horn added.
"They have got a great line-up," Van Horn said. "They have got a lot of good speed in there as well. They have two or three left-handed hitters that can really hit it. It is a solid, solid college line-up. They have a lot of ways they can beat you. They put together eight runs on us in two innings and it happened real quick."
Tuesday's action at the CWS will feature Southern Mississippi and North Carolina in a 1 p.m. elimination game and Texas and Arizona State battling in a winner's bracket game at 6.
There will be only one game Wednesday with Virginia being the home team against Arkansas.
"The good thing for us is that we get another shot on Wednesday to redeem ourselves and hopefully we will," Van Horn said.
Arkansas starting pitcher Brett Eibner fires to the plate in the first inning.
Chase Leavitt leaps as Mikie Mahtook's three-run homer lands over the left field fence in the opening inning.
Mahtook celebrates after crossing home plate.
Mahtook gets congratulations from his teammates after the blast.
Leavitt and Collin Kuhn chase down Ryan Schimpf's double in the second inning.
D.J. LeMahieu swipes second as Arkansas shortstop Ben Tschepikow tries to come up with the throw.