The Drama of Omaha

OMAHA, Neb. --- Texas launched five solo home runs off the Southeastern Conference's best arm, but it was not enough. The Tigers worked eleven hits over eleven innings, holding the Longhorns scoreless over the final five frames to get the 7-6 win. On Tuesday, for the first time since 2000, LSU will play for a National Championship.

Texas has lived on the edge in Omaha – from walking in the winning score to popping back-to-back, bottom of the ninth home runs. “We hired a new assistant coach, David Copperfield,” quipped head coach Auggie Garrido on Sunday.

On Monday, the magic ran out.

Texas launched a season-high five home runs off Tiger ace Louis Coleman, but the good fortune resided in the opposite dugout.

With their backs against the wall, the Tigers moved a pair of runs across in the top of the ninth to force extra innings before they scored in the eleventh to secure the win.

“This was the most courageous, never say die resolve that I’ve ever seen from one of my teams in 27 years of coaching,” Mainieri said. “That was the definition of a team effort.”

Eight different Tigers recorded hits on the night, none timelier than Mikie Mahtook’s game winning single in the eleventh.

With two outs and runners on first and third, the freshman center fielder lined Brandon Workman’s pitch up the middle to score DJ LeMahieu from third.

“I wanted to step up and make a big play,” Mahtook said. “He was throwing hard, and I saw that from the dugout. I made a point to put my foot down early and look for my pitch. He left one up, and I took it up the middle.”

While the hit gave LSU the win, the clutch moments were not reserved to extra innings.

In the sixth, Jared Mitchell smacked a two-out triple into the gap in left center that scored Micah Gibbs and Blake Dean – tying the game at three runs a side.

“Somebody had to make a big play, somebody had to get the big hit,” Mitchell said. “Somebody had to do something to spark the team, and I was in the situation where I had a chance.

“If you don’t relish that opportunity, you won’t go anywhere.”

Matty Ott knows the feeling.

The freshman, who holds the LSU single-season save record at 16, entered the contest in the ninth and worked up until the game’s final out – matching his longest appearance on the year.

Despite the extended stay on the mound, there was no sign of fatigue as the freshman held the Longhorns hitless across the final frames of the evening for the win.

“Throughout the year, I told myself that I need to be able to throw three to four innings, because I might need to step in and throw later in the season,” Ott said.

Bridging the gap from Coleman to Ott, pitching coach David Grewe said, was the key.

“Chad Jones was ready for that moment,” he said. “Getting [Jones] to work us through the seventh and [Paul] Bertuccini through the eighth was huge.

“Once Matty got the ball late in the game, we had a lot of confidence that we were going to win.”

Confidence, even for Coleman, is at an all-time high.

“Hey, those were all solo shots, so I had that going for me,” he said with a smile. “The guys all stepped up behind me at the plate and on the hill. When we worked our way back into the lead in the eleventh, you could feel the confidence building up.

“Playing like this, it’s going to be tough for Texas to beat us.”

Fortunately, the Tigers have history on their side. LSU is 5-0 when playing for a National Championship.

Of course, head coach Paul Mainieri was not around for those – which makes Tuesday’s shot at his first trophy all the more important.

“We get to say we are playing for the National Championship,” he said. “Wow, those are pretty cool words.”

Tiger Blitz Top Stories