White Tames Tigers in CWS Opener

OMAHA, Neb. – Alex White teased No. 7 LSU with one lone big-inning opportunity on Sunday evening, and then promptly slammed that window shut as the sophomore continued his dominant postseason play as No. 2 North Carolina blasted the Tigers, 8-4, in opening-round play of the College World Series.

"Their kid was really good," LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said. "Alex White – you can see why people talk about him in such superlatives. He's really outstanding."

After working through five innings with one walk and two solo homers, White (11-3) appeared to lose his control in the top of the sixth inning, walking Blake Dean (1-5) and Micah Gibbs (0-2, RBI) and then throwing a wild pitch to Matt Clark (1-3, HR) to move the runners to 2nd and 3rd with one out. Outside of the two solo shots, it marked the first time all evening that a Tiger had advanced to second base, and with the Tar Heels (51-12) holding a 7-2 lead, it was the perfect chance for LSU (48-17-1) to get back into the game.

But White quickly regained his composure, forcing Clark to hit a dribbler back to the mound for the second out, and then causing D.J. LeMahieu (1-4, RBI) to pop up to second baseman Kyle Seager (3-4, RBI) to escape the inning and effectively end the Tigers' chances at a game-changing rally.

"We knew it was going to be important for us not to give up a big inning," head coach Mike Fox said. "We knew in the middle part of the game that they were going to have an inning where they got people on and we were going to have to make a big pitch or a big play, and we were able to do that."

North Carolina's strength this postseason has come from its unrelenting pressure in all three phases of the game – every Tar Heel batter presents a challenge for the opposing pitcher, every starting pitcher has been unforgiving, and the defense has played virtually flawless.

That formula held true to form on Sunday in front of 22,239 fans at Rosenblatt Stadium. Seven different batters contributed in 17 total hits (UNC's most ever in the CWS), White allowed three runs and four hits in seven innings, and the defense played error-free ball.

"I think tonight was probably typical of our team effort," said Fox, whose team is 25-1 when not committing an error this season. "We kind of singled them to death there for a while… That was a total team effort for us, and we're certainly happy that we won."

Seth Williams (3-4, three RBI), Ryan Graepel (3-4), Dustin Ackley (2-5), Kyle Shelton (2-4), Tim Fedroff (3-5) and Seager posted multi-hit outings, while Tim Federowicz (1-4, RBI), Garrett Gore (0-3, RBI) and Chad Flack (0-3, RBI) joined the party with runs batted in.

LSU didn't fair nearly as well, totaling just eight hits and committing several throwing blunders despite only one of them counting as an error. Starting pitcher Ryan Verdugo (9-4) gave up four earned runs on 10 hits through 3 2/3 innings, and the Tar Heels also scored runs on Louis Coleman (three hits, one run, 2.0 innings) and Blake Martin (one hit, one run, 2/3 inning)

"They out-pitched us tonight," Mainieri said. "I think that was the main key to the game."

The one concern plaguing the Tar Heels this postseason has been their bullpen, and that too stayed true to form by allowing three hits and two runs in the top of the eighth inning. Brian Moran (two hits, 1/3 inning) inherited one run that scored as well as one of his own, and Rob Wooten allowed one of his two hits in closing out the game with his fifth save of the season.

It didn't help that First base umpire Jack Cox botched two calls in that inning – the first a questionable call that LeMahieu beat a throw at first that scored a run, and the second an obvious makeup call in which Leon Landry's foot was on the bag well before the ball arrived in Ackley's glove.

Michael Hollander (3-5, RBI) led the game off with a bomb over the left field wall to give LSU a quick 1-0 lead, but North Carolina responded in the bottom of the inning with four singles and a walk before the Tigers earned their first out as the Tar Heels built a 3-1 cushion.

Clark added another homerun for LSU in the second inning before White settled down and took control. North Carolina tacked on two more runs in the third inning, and had nearly blown the game open with a 8-2 lead in the bottom of the seventh before LSU's late rally.

North Carolina will face Fresno St. on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2), and the Bulldogs will act as the home team.

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