The sixth inning told the story.
After Texas rallied with a two-run home run in the fifth to tie the game at four, LSU decided that enough was enough.
“We went back to the dugout before the sixth and just looked each other in the eye, and we all knew we had to go win it before they put any more on the board,” said catcher Micah Gibbs, who was 2-for-4 with a pair of runs on the night.
“We had scored the four runs across the first two frames and then they had bounced back, so the ball was in our court.”
Jared Mitchell, who led off the inning with a full-count walk, scored on Mikie Mahtook’s double to right center. Texas’ Austin Dicharry advanced Mahtook to third on a throwing error and allowed the score on Derek Helenihi’s fly out to left field.
One batter later, the Longhorns turned to southpaw Austin Wood.
His night, like Dicharry’s, began rough. Taking over with two on, Wood hit both Ryan Schimpf and Blake Dean - which scored one run in the process.
Sean Ochinko – who got the starting nod after being benched in game two – followed with a two RBI single through the left side. Tied when they entered the frame, the Tigers had blown the game wide open.
“Those five runs were huge,” Ochinko said. “It was the turning point, and I was just glad to have a hand in it. Like I told coach when he let me know I was getting the start, I was not going to let anyone down.”
In the bottom of the frame, the “secret weapon” was back – and better than ever.
Chad Jones, who harnessed his Mojo from the mound under pitching coach David Grewe following his return from spring football, worked through the Longhorns in order - striking out a pair of batters to boot.
“They did not want any of me,” Jones laughed. “I was coming with nothing but the heat, and nobody could touch it. Nobody.”
He was right. By the time Jones took to the dugout, he had worked an inning and two-thirds of no-hit ball – the longest outing of his career.
To add icing to the cake, Ryan Schimpf scored Austin Nola on a sacrifice fly in the eighth before Ochinko launched a lead off home run in the ninth.
And, just like that, it was over.
“I have dreamt of this moment my whole life,” Mainieri said. “It is just surreal. This team did everything you could have asked of them … they did everything they needed to do to be called champions.”
Being called champions, according to LSU starting pitcher Anthony Ranaudo, is the reason he signed on.
“This is why I came to school at LSU, bottom line” he said. “The feeling is like no other. All the hours we put in paid off, and the emotions that I am going through are indescribable.”
The win marked the sixth National Championship for LSU, but just the first for Mainieri.
“This is why Skip [Bertman] brought me here three years ago,” Mainieri said. “To get to Omaha with the group of people we experienced this season with, it is a great feeling.”
As for the feeling of capturing his first title, which subsequently ended the nine-year drought in Baton Rouge?
“It is a monkey off my back for sure,” said Mainieri with a smile. “It feels pretty good to put this night on my resume.”