The mood around the LSU dugout after Monday’s 7-6 win over Texas was like any true Louisiana get together – a healthy mix of Tiger cheers and big smiles.
Following the squads’ most dramatic game of the year, TSD’s Shea Dixon got a chance to catch up with a number of Tigers – from starter Louis Coleman to the “Dreadlocks of Doom” Chad Jones.
Louis Coleman allowed six runs – all earned – on nine hits over six innings of work. The senior’s five home runs allowed were the most of his career. Prior to Monday, the last team to hit three home runs in one inning at the CWS was LSU against Mississippi State on June 1, 1998.
Shea: By the time the fifth home run went out, what was running through your head?
Coleman: I was not too much pissed. I was just thinking, “What in the world?” But, thank goodness they were all solos. I just kept giving them up and telling myself, “Hey, that was just a solo. We can get a guy on and hit a home run and make up for two of them.”
Shea: You sat in the dugout in isolation before going out in the seventh. What were you telling yourself?
Louis: I had told coach before that inning that I wanted three more outs. I told him three more and I would be done. Unfortunately I did not get there, but I just kept telling myself, “Hey, these could be the last few outs of your career.”
Shea: What did the team tell you when you went back into the dugout that inning?
Louis: They said they would get a big hit for me – and they did with the double in the ninth. I think it shows how much we care about each other. I did not get the job done, but I kept it close and they finished it off.
Chad Jones took the ball from Coleman in the seventh, working through the heart of the Longhorn order for no hits and a strikeout. The junior southpaw has now appeared in eight games for LSU. Jones, who owns a 3.60 ERA, has thrown five total innings and allowed a combined four hits on the season.
Shea: How were you feeling when you took the ball from Coleman in the seventh?
Jones: Man, it was great. I look forward to that sort of situation. This is amazing, because we came here and won game one.
Shea: What does the night hold?
Jones: I am going to go to sleep, and tomorrow I am going to win a National Championship. We are ready to get it done.
Ryan Schimpf put the Tigers on the board in the top of the first with a solo home run to right field. The score marked the fifth game in a row that LSU has scored in the first inning. The junior’s 22 home runs are good for best on the team.
Shea: The team got off to a quick start with your bat once more. What was the approach?
Schimpf: It is really the same thing I have done all year. I went up to find a pitch that I could drive, and I stayed aggressive. I thought I put a pretty good swing on it.
Shea: What does a comeback win on this stage say about the team?
Schimpf: It says a lot. It is good for us to come back and fight to win, because that builds character. We have had a bunch of come from behind victories this year, but this was the toughest.
Head coach Paul Mainieri described Austin Nola as “the final piece to the infield puzzle.” The freshman Baton Rouge-native, who has made a permanent home for himself at shortstop, was 1-for-3 against the Longhorns.
Shea: What were you thinking when the team fell behind early?
Nola: I was just thinking, “Whoa man, you got to wake up.”
Shea: With everyone now awake, how does the team look at Tuesday?
Nola: We have a lot of confidence that we can’t lose, but we know we got to come out and play. Texas … man they don’t quit.
Jared Mitchell was 2-for-6 on the night, driving in two runs on a triple that tied the game in the sixth – his fifth three-bag hit on the year. The junior’s .329 average trails only DJ LeMahieu (.350), Ryan Schimpf (.341) and Blake Dean (.332).
Shea: The emotional charge you gave the team in the sixth was pretty evident. What was your thought process as you stepped up to the plate?
Mitchell: Somebody had to make a big play. Somebody had to get the big hit. Somebody had to do something to spark the team … and I was in the situation where I had a chance.
Shea: What does it mean, as a New Iberia-native, to represent LSU on as stage as big as the College World Series?
Mitchell: It means a lot, it really does. I try to go out and be a role model and positive influence to kids back home, so that they can have something to look up to. This helps with that in a big way.