Dean sparks LSU to victory

The Tiger bats might have slept through Friday night, but they didn't miss the alarm clock on Saturday. LSU topped Ole Miss 6-5 to even the weekend series, which included four RBI off an unexpected bat.

The designated hitter spot is typically occupied by a team's best hitter.

Headed into the 2009 season, head coach Paul Mainieri placed Blake Dean in the slot, making the previous assertion very much the truth for the Tigers.

By the time the Rebels arrived to Baton Rouge on Friday, however, Dean's average was down to .235, the lowest of any of the Tiger starters.

After he drove in four runs on four hits Saturday afternoon, the junior's presence at the spot was finally felt in the fashion that Mainieri had planned.

"I sure hope the slump is over," said Dean with a laugh. "This is probably more hits than I have had in three weeks combined. Obviously, I go from being red hot last year to as cold as I can be, so it remains a humbling experience. I am going to leave with my chin up and come out tomorrow for another day."

The Tiger headman said that the breakout performance was one that he had waited long and hard for.

"I would like to say that I have been waiting patiently, but I am not sure patient is the right word," said Mainieri with a smile. "But you knew he would bounce back because he is such a good hitter. I am more relieved and happy for him than anything else, because he puts the weight of the world on his shoulders.

"The bottom line remains that when Blake hits well, we are a lot better team. I know that is a lot to put on one kid, but that is the double-edged sword of having that kind of talent. Everyone has a lot of expectations of him."

The performance from senior Louis Coleman on the mound was equally impressive, seeing the right hander give up four hits, two runs, one earned and four walks in seven innings of work.

Coleman (6-1), who recorded ten strikeouts in the appearance, allowed just one hit through his first five frames of work.

"I feel comfortable anywhere that the team needs me, but pitching in the Saturday spot is definitely a comfortable fit," he said. "With Anthony [Ranaudo] pitching well on Friday nights I would love to help us get that 2-0 lead headed into Sundays."

LSU (20-6, 5-3 SEC) struck first on the afternoon in the third inning, where they jumped out to a 2-0 lead.

Jared Mitchell singled to left to score Tyler Hanover from third, followed by a Blake Dean single through the right side to score Mitchell from second.

Mitchell, who was hot on the base paths once more, upped his total to 22 stolen bases on the season - good for best in the nation.

"We have a lot of speed on this team period, so once we get guys on and get them in motion the batters are helped out because they know that the fastballs are coming," Mitchell said. "It really helps us a lot when we aren't hitting well and not blasting the homeruns, because we can manufacture runs."

The Tigers would get back on the board in the fifth and sixth innings, highlighted by a three-run RBI off the bat of Dean in the sixth, which pushed the lead to 6-1.

The Rebels (16-7, 5-3 SEC) would finally get to Coleman in the eighth, where they scored one run on a pair of singles and a walk. Yet, the damage had been done.

Paul Bertuccini and Matty Ott relieved the senior right hander, where Bertuccini finished with two strikeouts and a walk in 0.2 innings of work in the eighth.

Ott worked into the ninth, where the right hander ran into a bit of hot water.

After he allowed two runs on four hits to start the frame, the freshman put runners on the corners with the go-ahead run at the plate. After he allowed one more run to cross the plate, Ott struck out the final Rebel batter to put the stop on the comeback.

"I told Matty after the game that the job of the closer is to get the last out with more runs than the other team, and he did that tonight," Mainieri said. "They were able to put the bat on the ball and have some good fortune, but overall I thought that Matty pitched really well."

Ott allowed five hits and three earned runs on 30 pitches over 1.1 innings of work.

Philip Irwin (4-1) earned the loss for the Rebels. The junior allowed eight hits, five earned runs and a walk over 5.1 innings of work.

The teams will be back in action at the Box for game three Sunday at 1 p.m.


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