June 17, 2008
OMAHA, Neb. -- LSU rallied for six late runs, including the final four with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, to claim a 6-5 win over the Rice baseball team in an elimination game at the College World Series Tuesday afternoon in Omaha, Neb. The Owls' 2008 season has come to an end with a final record of 47-15.
The Owls seemed to be in the driver's seat for the game, holding a 5-2 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth inning. The Tigers put four on the scoreboard on three hits and a fielding error to claim the win and to remain alive in the double-elimination tournament. Rice had dropped its opening game of the CWS on Sunday to Fresno State. The Blue and Gray was making its third-straight CWS appearance in three years, but this was the first time since 2002 for Rice not to win a game in a trip to Omaha.
Rice opened the scoring with a pair of runs in the top of the second inning. Adam Zornes reached base on a fielder's choice and Chad Mozingo doubled off the wall in left field to put runners on second and third. Rick Hague laced a single into left field to score both men and the Blue & Gray was in front 2-0.
The Owls added runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. In the fifth Jordan Dodson reached on a fielder's choice and scored from first base on a triple to the gap in right-center by Jared Gayhart. In the next inning Aaron Luna hit the first pitch he saw for a solo home run to left field. His tenth round-tripper of the year, and 39th of his career, stretched the margin to 4-0. Rice scored again in the seventh to make 5-0 after a leadoff double by Dodson and an RBI single by Diego Seastrunk.
LSU scored its first run of the game in the bottom of the seventh. Pinch hitter Nicholas Pontiff singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch. He took third on a base hit by Derek Helenihi and came home on a balk. In the eighth, Jared Mitchell reached on an Owl fielding error and scored on a double into the right field corner by Micah Gibbs.
Helenihi singled up the middle to start the ninth and a hit batsman put men on first and second. Michael Hollander singled up the middle for the first run with two men still on base. An Owl fielding error loaded the bases and the second double of the game by Blake Dean hit the left field wall on the fly to score all three runs and end the game.
Senior Chris Kelley started on the mound for Rice and worked a sound and solid 5.2 innings. The veteran from Sugar Land scattered four hits and three walks while striking out two. Kelley was relieved by Cole St.Clair for the final 2.2 innings.
With the program's seventh trip to the CWS since 1997, the Owls registered another sensational season. Rice won at least 42 games for the 14th-straight year on the way to another Conference USA regular season championship. The team won a number of individual awards for their performance on the field and in the classroom. Rice had a sky-high RPI (rating power index) which allowed the team to showcase the renovated Reckling Park to record crowds for the Regional and Super Regional rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Head Coach Wayne Graham and his staff return a host talented young players and are bringing in one of the top recruiting classes in the nation for the 2009 season.