The Tigers began their 2009 campaign as preseason No. 1 and ended it as the postseason No. 1.
With the NCAA World Series title headed back to Baton Rouge, what was the word around the LSU dugout following the win? TigerSportsDigest.com’s Shea Dixon got a chance to catch up with a few of the Tigers to find out.
Sean Ochinko, who got the starting nod just hours before first pitch, was 4-for-5 with a home run.
Shea: You were in and out of the lineup all year. How were you able to stay focused and step up on the biggest night of your career?
Ochinko: I just kept my head in there and battled. I was not worried too much about if I started or what not. I just wanted us to win. But to have a big night like this means the world to me.
Shea: Talk about the big two-run RBI in the sixth.
Ochinko: I went up to the plate looking to make something happen, and fortunately I was able to. I came into the game wanting to make a difference, and to do that on my last night as a Tiger was special.
Catcher Micah Gibbs was 2-for-4 with a pair of runs on the night – finishing the year with a .294 average.
Shea: What was it like to be behind the plate of a championship game?
Gibbs: It was something that I will never forget. Running out there to hug Louis Coleman after the final out was an amazing moment.
Shea: How much sweeter was it to beat Texas, your home state team?
Gibbs: That definitely made it all the sweeter. I had said that if we ended up losing that game somehow, they were going to need to call in a psychiatrist for me. Things would have been pretty bad.
Anthony Ranaudo, who got the game three start, earned his 12th win on the season. The sophomore worked 5.1 innings of eight-hit, four-run ball on the night.
Shea: Walk me through your night, which seemed up and down at times.
Ranaudo: I definitely did not have my best stuff, but I battled as hard as I could. I was digging deep in the third because I could not really locate any of my pitches. I have to just give credit to the other guys around me for getting the job done.
Shea: When the coaching staff recruited you from New Jersey, was this the moment that they sold you on?
Ranaudo: Absolutely. I came to LSU to win, and that is what we were able to do this year. It is a great feeling.
Louis Coleman, who pitched in his final collegiate game, worked the final two innings for the Tigers. The senior allowed one hit and struck out four Longhorn batters.
Shea: How special was it to be on the mound and throw the final pitch for the win?
Coleman: It was everything I had dreamed it would be. I just have to thank Matty Ott for letting me close the game, because he had been in that spot all year. It was pretty selfless of him to let me go out there on the final night.
Shea: You turned down MLB money multiple times. How does it feel to validate it all with a title?
Coleman: It is the reason you come back to school, to win a championship. To be able to do that in my final season is something special. It is tough for me to put into words.
Chad Jones, who bridged the gap from Ranaudo to Coleman, worked 1.2 innings of no hit ball – his longest outing of the season.
Shea: How does this title compare to the one you earned on the football team?
Jones: They are different, both important in there own way. Being able to play such a big part in this one was special, though. It definitely leaves me one up on (older brother) Rahim. Now I will always have one more ring than him, and that is how I like it.
Shea: Were you surprised at how well you took back to the mound this spring?
Jones: I was, for sure. I had not pitched in years, so it was fresh for me. To get to pitch in a National Championship, that is something I could not have dreamed up. I was just out there trying to hold things down for Louisiana, and the guys motivated me to really step my game up. I am ready for next year right now.
Ryan Schimpf, who struggled from the plate in Tuesday’s loss, bounced back for a 1-for-3 night with a pair of RBI. The Covington-native’s 22 home runs were good for most on the team.
Shea: What does this mean for a Louisiana native?
Schimpf: It means everything. I have been playing baseball my entire life wanting to be able to experience this type of moment. To watch the teams of the 1990s and then be a part of that same tradition, it is something I just can’t explain the emotions of.