June 6, 2009
BATON ROUGE, La. -- The Rice baseball team had the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning, but could not pull off a final rally in the elimination game of the NCAA Super Regional and fell to No. 1 ranked LSU by a final score of 5-3 in front of the largest crowd in LSU baseball history (9,651). The Tigers claimed the best-of-three series two-games-to-none Saturday afternoon in Baton Rouge, La.
With the loss the Owls' 2009 season has come to an end at 43-18. LSU (51-16) advances to play in the College World Series beginning Saturday (June 15) Omaha, Neb.
Playing as the visiting team in the NCAA Tournament format, LSU put a run on the scoreboard in the top of the first inning. DJ LeMahieu led off with a double and moved to third on a pair of walks. He scored with one away on a ground out for a 1-0 lead, but after having the bases loaded through the middle of the Tigers' order Rice had avoided serious damage.
The Owls were dealt a huge blow in the top of the second. National Freshman of the Year Anthony Rendon was injured chasing down a foul on the left side. He got tangled up with shortstop Rick Hague who was also attempting to make a play on the ball. The two Owls collided and Rendon went down. He had to be carried off the field by teammates Mark Haynes and Andrew Benak. When Comerota came over from first base to take his place defensively, it was the first time for any Owl other than Rendon to play third this year.
Rice tied the game in the bottom of the third. Second baseman Brock Holt blasted 3-1 pitch for a homerun over the wall in right-center. The round-tripper was his 12th of the season and tied the game 1-1.
The Tigers moved back in front with a run in the fourth. Jared Mitchell led off with a double to left and scored after consecutive singles by Sean Ochinko and Derek Helenihi.
The Owls came right back with a run in the bottom of the frame. Diego Seastrunk knocked a double to center and he alertly hustled to third on an LSU error on the play. Michael Fuda followed with bunt for a base hit down the first base side and Seastrunk came home to tie the contest at 2-2.
LSU returned serve with two runs in the fifth. Ryan Schimpf drew a leadoff walk, moved to third on a double by Blake Dean and scored on a ground to second. Dean came home on a wild pitch for a new 4-2 lead.
The Tigers used the longball for a run in the sixth. Derek Helenihi led off the frame with his fourth home run of the season for the team's largest lead of the day at 5-2.
The Owls got a run back in its half of the sixth. With one away Seastrunk took a 3-2 pitch the other way with a homer to left. The shot was the seventh of the year and the 14th of his Rice career.
Rice had a 1-2-3 seventh, but had a chance for a run in the eighth. Chad Mozingo singled and was eventually stranded at second. In the ninth pinch-hitter and Baton Rouge native Ryan Lewis was hit by a pitch. LSU closer Matty Ott was able to work out of the threat to earn his 16th save of the season.
SEC pitcher of the year Louis Coleman won for LSU to improve to 13-2. Junior right-hander Ryan Berry started for Rice and worked 5.0 innings. He gave up five runs on eight hits while striking out six. Jared Rogers came out of the bullpen and kept LSU off the scoreboard for the final 4.0 innings by holding the Tigers to just two hits.