June 5, 2009
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Freshman Anthony Rendon went 3-for-4 with a home run a double and two RBI, but No. 1 ranked LSU claimed a 12-9 win over the Rice baseball team before a rowdy crowd of 9,375 at Alex Box Stadium in the opening game of the best-of-three Super Regional series Friday night in Baton Rouge, La.
With the loss, Rice must now win two-straight games on the road against the Tigers to advance to the College World Series in Omaha for a fourth-consecutive season. Another loss to LSU would end of the Owls' 2009 season in the Super Regional format.
Rice scored nine runs on nine hits Friday against the No. 1 team in the country. The Owls had a 4-1 lead after four-and-a-half innings, but a big sixth-run fifth turned the tide. The Blue & Gray was down 9-4 late, but continued to fight and rallied for five final runs over the final two frames.
The Owls took advantage of an LSU miscue for two runs in the top of the second. Rendon led off with a double to centerfield. When Chad Mozingo lined a bouncing ball back to the pitcher, it looked like Rendon might be caught off base. Rendon cooly forced LSU to start a run-down and the Tigers threw the ball away before the rundown sequence could get started. Not only was Rendon allowed to trot home, Mozingo advanced all the way to third. Michael Fuda followed with a sacrifice fly to center where Mozingo scored easily.
The Owls accepted the Tigers' charity again in the fourth. With one away Rendon reached on an LSU fielding error. He moved to scoring position on another error on a failed pick-off attempt. Fuda laced a single up the middle for an RBI as Rendon dashed home to make it 3-0.
LSU battled back for a run in the bottom of the frame. Blake Dean drew a one-out walk and moved up on a balk. He went to third on a single through the right side by Micah Gibbs. Mikie Mahtook was hit by a pitch that loaded the bases. Rendon made a leaping grab of a ball that nearly bounced over his head to get one out, but Dean came home on the play. The Tigers were still looking for more, but starting pitcher Mike Ojala worked out of the jam with a strikeout.
Rice came right back with a run in the top of the fifth. Junior Steven Sultzbaugh led off with solo home run to left-centerfield. His eighth round-tripper of the year put the Blue & Gray back in front by three, 4-2.
LSU charged into the lead in the bottom of the frame by scoring six runs on six hits. DJ LeMahieu drove in the first run after a leadoff double and hit batsman. The big blow was a three-run homer to right-center by Ryan Schimf that put LSU in front 5-4. A double down the left field line by Sean Ochinko plated two more to stretch the margin to 7-4.
The Tigers added two more in the sixth on a walk, double, Rice error and sacrifice fly. The Blue & Gray was down by five with just three innings left to play.
Rice put two on the board in the top of the eighth to make it 9-6. Holt reached on LSU's fourth error of the game to lead off the inning. Rendon drove him in with a homer to left. The blast was the 20th of the year for the National Freshman of the Year to tie for the fifth-most by an Owl in a single season in school history.
LSU answered with a three-run eighth but Rice matched it with three more in the top of the ninth. Fuda singled and stole second before scoring on an RBI hit by Jess Buenger. Holt later blasted a two-run homer over the wall in right field for the team's ninth run of the night.
Rendon led six Owls who all had base hits on the night. Rice fell to 43-17 on the season. LSU improved 50-16 overall. The two teams are not finished. Rice and LSU meet again in game two of the Super Regional on Saturday at 4:05 pm Central Time. The game will be broadcast live across the country on ESPN.