The pieces from the mound

The Tiger bats have driven in 18 runs on 27 hits during their two-game stretch in Omaha, one of their most impressive back-to-back performances on the year. From the hill, LSU pitching coach David Grewe has used eight arms – with Louis Coleman going both nights. Still in the winner's bracket, Grewe talks about the road ahead.

David Grewe, who joined the club from his post as Michigan State's skipper last season, is in Omaha for the first time as a coach.

On the tail end of three day's rest, the Tigers have had time to clear their heads – from a day at the zoo to downtime in the hotel. Back on the field tomorrow against Arkansas, Grewe set some time aside to visit with Shea Dixon and take a look at the road ahead.

Dixon: The Arkansas/Virginia game went extra innings, with the Razorbacks keeping the Southeastern Conference well represented with the win. Who were you hoping to see pull it out?
Grewe: I had mixed feelings the whole time. I think we play well against Arkansas, but [Virginia head coach] Brian O'Connor is a close friend of mine. It was hard not to root for a man who stood in my wedding.

Dixon: Does the Razorback win make the Tigers road any easier, given the familiarity with the opponent?
Grewe: I think so. I think Arkansas can claim the same advantage though, because they have seen us four times and know how we play just like we know them. At the same time, we have thrown well against them, and I think the guys can pick back up on that.

Dixon: Ranaudo was shaky in his first start, going just 3.1 innings before the bullpen pieced together the win down the stretch. How do you expect him to come out on six day's rest?
Grewe: I think he will be fine. He has done a six day rest for us a couple of times this year, and he has always had good stuff. With the short outing last Saturday, he should be poised to get back out there and turn things around.

Dixon: Was the plan always to go with Ranaudo, or was Austin Ross ever in the mix?
Grewe: I laid out a couple of maps before the tournament began, and the best scenario had us staying in the winner's bracket and Anthony coming back to pitch the following Friday. That happened for us, even with his poor performance in the opener. Now, we have him ready to pitch again in game three of the finals next week … if it goes that far.

Dixon: Where does that leave Ross?
Grewe: He is throwing really well for us out of the pen, so we will keep him in that spot as long as he is successful. We are going to probably use him first [Friday] out of the pen, and just take things from there. He should also look to start game two of the finals, with Louis starting game one.

Dixon: Daniel Bradshaw tossed two innings of two-hit ball on Monday. What will his role down the stretch be?
Grewe: Well, if Ross comes in during some extended time between now and then, Bradshaw would be our game two starter. We could even throw Ryan Byrd or Nolan Cain in that spot, which is the kind of confidence we need to have for the last few games.

Dixon: Virginia and Arkansas were held to a combined six runs against eight different Tiger pitchers. Did you expect to have to put together so many pieces to get the job done?
Grewe: You never know, which is why I am always confident that if the situation does arise, we can work through it. The guys did the same thing at the SEC Tournament, so I am certainly not surprised by it. It doesn't matter how we do it, it matters that the guys go in and get the job done. I will say I am pretty proud of them, one guy to the next. It has been a great run.

Dixon: The bats have come alive for 18 runs on 27 hits during the two-game stretch. Was that the final piece needed to take this team all the way?
Grewe: It sure helps. I can't remember a time all season that we had that sort of early production in games. We have scored in the first inning of our last three games, and I can't tell you how much that does to the confidence of our pitching staff. When they can pitch without living on every throw, they are pretty hard to get after.

Dixon: How has the team taken to the down time?
Grewe: We hate it. To be honest, we all are ready to get back out there. Everyone around here is playing, and our guys are just sitting back. I hate to complain about being in the winner's bracket, but I sure don't like having the guys sit around. We want to be out there.

Dixon: You are no stranger to Omaha, but this is your first time as a coach. How does it feel to represent LSU at Rosenblatt?
Grewe: There is no feeling like it. This place is obsessed with LSU, and when LSU does well, they say that the World Series is just more fun. It is a great town, and I love being able to get here. Doing that as the coach of these guys, though, it means something else. I won't ever forget it.

Dixon: The warning signs were laid out for the guys – especially freshman – to not become too taken in by the surroundings. Yet, the team is showing no signs of jitters. What gives?
Grewe: I think playing in Alex Box Stadium and in front of the 9,000 person crowds really prepared this team. I was at the opening ceremony in Omaha thinking to myself, "the fireworks and energy on opening night back in Baton Rouge seemed like more than this." It is not taking anything away, but these kids are not going to let it be a factor given what they have played in all season.


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