Jared Mitchell was the only Tiger not to record a hit in Friday night’s Super Regional opener against Rice.
That did not mean the right fielder – projected to go as high as the first round in next weeks MLB draft – did not get in on the action, driving in the Tigers’ final run in the eighth on a fielder’s choice.
“LSU out hit us,” said Rice headman Wayne Graham. “You have to give them credit for that.”
The hottest bat on the night was junior Ryan Schimpf – who sputtered in the teams’ last meeting in Omaha, striking out against Cole St. Clair in the seventh before being pinch hit for in the ninth.
Their 2009 meeting proved to be different, and the timing of the junior’s step into the spotlight could not have been better.
Ojala, who had struck out Schimpf in both his plate appearances, took the Covington native to a 1-1 count with runners on second and third.
With two runs already across in the frame, Graham looked to his dugout for a southpaw – tabbed on the stat sheets as kryptonite to the Tiger bats.
He found Taylor Wall – a crafty left-hander who has lived in the Owls’ weekend rotation throughout the season. Slated to start on Sunday, the freshman found himself with the ball in his hand and a two-run lead to protect.
Two pitches later, Schimpf blasted his 19th home run on the year – a three-run shot that moved LSU into a 5-4 lead.
Wall lasted just one-third of an inning, giving up three runs on three hits to earn the loss.
Kudos to the LSU bats for scattering seven runs across Ojala and Wall in two innings of work.
“We had guys step it up for us tonight and get some RBIs,” Mainieri said. “That is what your offense has to be.”
The opening three Tigers in the rotation – LeMahieu, Schimpf and Dean - are a case in point, scattering six RBI on nine hits on the night.
“You have to have a couple of guys have a big night if you want to have a big game.”
Ranaudo, who allowed just one earned run in 7.2 innings of work, struck out nine and did not record a walk.
From top to bottom, the Tigers figured it out.
“I am really proud of our team tonight,” Ranaudo said. “It was a total team performance.”