Ranaudo Baffles Hogs

OMAHA, Neb. - Arkansas struggled with LSU's starting pitcher, 6-foot-7 sophomore right-hander Anthony Ranaudo, during its 14-5 loss Friday at the College World Series.

Ranaudo tossed six shutout innings and allowed only four hits, showing complete command of his pitches in finishing the Razorbacks' season. The native of Jackson, N.J., never let Arkansas string any hits together. Only one UA leadoff runner reached base — Brett Eibner on a fifth-inning single.

By dominating the Hogs, Ranaudo avenged one of his three losses this season.

"They did beat me the last time I faced them, but I wasn't think about (getting revenge)," Ranaudo said. "It was nice to get a win against them, but I was really focused on our team. I wanted to go out there, throw strikes early and try to get as deep as I could into the game."

Ranaudo, who improved to 11-3, gave up five earned runs in six innings when LSU lost 11-4 to the Hogs on May 2 in Fayetteville. He walked three Razorbacks that day, but Ranaudo was extremely accurate Friday.

He didn't walk any Hogs and threw 58 of his 77 pitches for strikes. He consistently got ahead of batters — with 16 of his 22 first pitches going for strikes.

"The first time we saw (Ranaudo) this season, he was pretty wild, and he wasn't hitting any spots," Eibner said. "But he was throwing really well (Friday). He was painting the black on both sides (of the plate)."



Lineup Changes

The Razorbacks went with a lineup coach Dave Van Horn hasn't used often this season, beginning with his decision to start closer Stephen Richards. The junior left-hander made his first start this season and only the second of his career.

As for the batting order and position assignments, Van Horn thought outside the box. With senior Ben Tschepikow out with a broken finger, Van Horn gave freshman Zack Cox his first start at shortstop since his junior year of high school. Sophomore Andy Wilkins slid over to third base to make his first start there since March 6 and sophomore Jacob House started at first, his first start since May 12.

Van Horn made the moves for offensive reasons, and they cost the Razorbacks defensively in the third. A fielding error by House — with the bases loaded and no outs — contributed to two of LSU's three third-inning runs being unearned.

"House's error was a tough play," Van Horn said. "It was a tweener. I wish he just fielded it and got the play at first, but it wasn't one you're going to make every time."



Third-Inning Trouble

Van Horn may have tried to go a bit too long with Richards, who handled LSU relatively well in the first two innings. Richards gave up only one run on two hits in those two frames on 29 pitches.

He even struck out DJ LeMahieu and Ryan Schimpf to start Friday's game.

But LSU loaded the bases against him on two singles and a walk in the third, bringing Van Horn out to relieve him with Mike Bolsinger. The junior right-hander threw successfully for the most part after replacing Richards, allowing only one run, one hit and one walk.

He also struck out four in three innings.

"We were hoping Stephen could go three innings, maybe four," Van Horn said. "And he might've done it if he would've gotten the first hitter in the third (on a 1-2 pitch). But you could tell Stephen was done. That arm starts going this way and his body goes that way.

"It just seemed like he was trying to throw too hard, and he got frustrated."



Eibner Ruins Shutout

The Razorbacks finally scored in the seventh.

Eibner lofted the first pitch he saw from LSU reliever Austin Ross for a one-out, two-run home run after House's single to center. The sophomore from Houston finished the season with 12 home runs in 147 at-bats — one homer for every 12.25 at-bats, the best ratio on the team.

Senior Chase Leavitt and Eibner were the only Razorbacks to record at least two hits Friday.



Junior Decisions

Van Horn said he expected junior pitchers Dallas Keuchel and Richards to sign professional contracts in the coming days or weeks. As for another junior, Bolsinger, the decision may not be as easy, Van Horn said.

Keuchel and Richards went in the seventh and eighth rounds of the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft, respectively, but Bolsinger wasn't selected until the 33rd round. Van Horn said Bolsinger's "a lot better than a (33rd) rounder."

"I think Bolsinger's got a decision to make," Van Horn said. "I would love to have him back, but I don't know what's going to happen there. These are some of the things we have to deal with for the next few weeks.

"We also had some young kids who we signed get drafted, and we have to see what they are (going to do)."



Missing Tschepikow

Arkansas will lose six seniors from this team, none as integral to its success this season as Tschepikow — its second baseman, and recent shortstop. The Fayetteville native batted .317, led the Razorbacks in runs (54), placed second in RBI (47) and ranked fourth in home runs (nine).

Still, Van Horn didn't cite those statistics when stressing the impact Tschepikow made this season.

"We're going to miss him," Van Horn said. "The guys kid him like he's been in the program eight years now. He's grown up so much, not just as a baseball player, but emotionally and physically. He's ready for the real world now.

"When we got him, he was just your typical 18-year-old kid who had a ways to go. Now, he's a leader, and I'm just really proud of him."



Short Hops

Omaha native Sam Murphy, a sophomore right-hander, didn't allow any runs in 1 2/3 innings of work and struck out two. ... Arkansas tied the CWS record by using eight pitchers in Friday's contest. LSU used five pitchers, and the 13 total pitchers used also tied a CWS mark. ... The start of Friday's game was delayed two hours and 30 minutes by rain. ... LSU batted around in the seventh and scored five runs to take an 11-0 lead, but it wasn't a fun inning for LeMahieu. All three outs in the frame were recorded during the Tigers second baseman's at-bats. LeMahieu flied out to center to start the inning and bounced into a double play to finish it. ... Blake Dean's fifth-inning home run was the 100th hit this year by the Tigers. LSU now has 100-plus homers in consecutive seasons for the first time since a 4-year stretch from 1996-99.

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