Tigers crush Horns to take title

OMAHA, Neb. - After splitting the first two games of the National Championship Series, the LSU Tigers and Texas Longhorns squared off Wednesday night for the rubber game for all the marbles. LSU used a five-run sixth inning to blow open a tight game and win their sixth national championship.

Over the past month, the Texas Longhorns have taken themselves on a wild ride, overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles with regularity. The ‘Horns achieved the amazing so often, it led many to bill them as ‘a team of destiny.'

On Wednesday, the ride came to an end.

Playing in the deciding game three of the CWS Championship Series, the Longhorns dropped an 11-4 decision to the LSU Tigers.

In a series that matched two of the most successful collegiate baseball programs in the nation, the Tigers walked away with their sixth national title, tying Texas for second most all-time.

Right-hander Cole Green got the starting nod for the Longhorns. The sophomore had been outstanding in the postseason, notching quality starts in each of his four outings. But he simply didn't have his best stuff on Wednesday.

After retiring the first two hitters of the game, Green plunked Blake Dean and allowed a single to Sean Ochinko, putting runners on the corners and one out for Jared Mitchell.

Mitchell, who would later be named the College World Series' Most Outstanding Player, belted a there-run homer down the right field line, giving the Tigers an early 3-0 advantage.

LSU put across another run in the fourth when Ryan Schimpf lined a run-scoring single into center, making it 4-0.

The Tigers' first four runs all came with two outs.

Two-out scoring was a theme of the entire three-game series for LSU. Coach Paul Maineiri's club plated 14 of its 19 runs with two down.

While the Tigers' offense was cruising along, the Longhorns were wasting valuable opportunities, stranding four runners in the first two innings.

Texas wasn't about to go down without a fight. Just like they've done all postseason, the Longhorns answered the Tigers and made a game of it.

Ranaudo lost his control in the third, issuing four free passes, including three in a row. An RBI groundout and a bases-loaded walk from Preston Clark cut LSU's lead in half at 4-2.

Meanwhile, reliever Brandon Workman was doing an excellent job in long relief, mowing down the stout LSU lineup. Workman retired nine consecutive hitters to push the Longhorns into the bottom of the fifth, still down just two runs.

Just as it appeared that Ranaudo was getting back into a grove, Connor Rowe led off the Texas fifth with a single, bringing Kevin Keyes to the plate.

Ranaudo, who had been working up in the zone with his fastball for most of the game, gave Keyes a knee-high heater.

The sophomore slugger crushed the ball into the left-center field bleachers, knotting the game at four and giving the ‘Horns new life.

Unfortunately for the Longhorns, they didn't remain in the game for much longer.

Workman came back out for the sixth and issued a leadoff walk to Jared Mitchell. Freshman centerfielder Mikie Mahtook doubled him home, and after just two hitters, LSU had re-taken the lead.

The Tigers wouldn't look back.

LSU seized the momentum by scoring four more runs off Austin Dicharry and Austin Wood in the sixth, giving them a commanding 9-4 lead. The Tigers scored five sixth-inning runs on just two hits.

Although Ranaudo gave up four runs on eight hits and five walks in 5.1 innings, his offense gave him enough cushion to earn his 12th victory of the season. Ranaudo believes that's part of why this Tigers team is special.

"I didn't have my best stuff today," he said. "That has been the story of the season for us—when the pitchers didn't have their best stuff, the hitters picked them up, and when the hitting wasn't going, the pitchers picked them up."

With the damage done, LSU turned to left-hander Chad Jones and righty Luis Coleman. The two combined to toss 3.2 scoreless innings, yielding only one hit.

After Keyes' home run in the fifth, the Longhorns never posed much of a scoring threat to the Tigers.

The Bayou Bengals added a pair of runs later in the contest to reach an 11-4 final score.

For some Longhorns, such as left fielder Preston Clark, Wednesday night was the last time they would suit up in a UT uniform. Despite the game-three result, Clark enjoyed his team's postseason run.

"It has been amazing," Clark said. "Every one of these guys has pulled for each other. This is the best team we've ever been a part of.

"They punched us in the mouth, and we couldn't get a rally going. It's a tough loss, but I love these guys and it was a great run for us."

The National Championship is the first for Tigers' coach Paul Mainieri and LSU's first since 2000.

"I've dreamed my whole life of having this moment," said the LSU coach. "It's almost surreal."


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