Three Down, Two to Go

The LSU baseball team, winners of three straight in Omaha, are back in the title game of the College World Series. On Friday, the Tigers downed Arkansas 14-5 to set up Monday's bout against the winner of Texas and Arizona State.

The rain might have delayed play two hours and 28 minutes, but nothing would hold back the inevitable.

Behind double-digit hits (16) and runs (14) at the plate and a six-inning, scoreless performance by Anthony Ranaudo from the hill, head coach Paul Mainieri’s crew looked – for the third time in three appearances – to be the best team in Omaha.

 “I don’t have a lot to say, I’m just very proud of the way the guys came out today,” Mainieri said.

Ranaudo, who lasted just 3.1 innings during his start against Virginia last Saturday, allowed four hits and struck out five batters to earn his 11th win on the year.

“You saw the real Anthony Ranaudo today,” Mainieri said. “He had good velocity, a good fastball and even got a few changeups over.”

As opposed to the opposition, the biggest test seemed holding the sophomore back following his opening outing.

“[Ranaudo] was kind of hard to live with this week, hard to talk to because he wanted to get out there so bad,” Mainieri said. “Nobody wants to win more than he does, and there was no way he was going to let his team down today.”

What was the key to the turnaround, which appeared to be night and day for the Tiger right-hander?

“I didn’t have good command [Saturday], and that’s what gets you into trouble,” Ranaudo said. “[Friday] I pounded the zone early, and the offense scored early and gave me time to relax and go out and compete.”

Micah Gibbs followed Blake Dean’s two-out double with an RBI single up the middle to start the contest - marking the fourth straight game the Tigers have scored in the first inning.

By the end of the night, LSU had poured it on thick – managing base runners in every inning but the fourth and seeing eight of their nine starters record at least one hit.

“LSU was just too strong, and we did not have enough to hold them down,” said Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn.

Dean, right fielder Jared Mitchell and left fielder Ryan Schimpf all blasted solo home runs for LSU, while third baseman Tyler Hanover blasted a two-run shot to cap the festivities in the ninth.

Dean, who is in the midst of a 13-game hit streak, said that the Tigers look as poised as they have all season.

“I think it is tough to beat us right now with the way we are pitching and hitting.”

Winners of a season high 13 consecutive games, Schimpf said that things are coming together like clockwork.

“We don’t really think about any winning streak, we just look at it as another ball game,” he said. “This team’s doing a great job, and we’re peaking at the right time.”

Though the late innings were rough – seeing Austin Ross and Matty Ott give up home runs in the seventh and ninth, respectively – the end result was another victory.

Despite the emotion involved, the Tigers were all business as they shuffled to the locker rooms.

“It was kind of like winning the regional, there was no dog pile because we knew there was more work to do,” Mainieri said.

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