LSU rallies to top Texas in thrilling Game 1
Tigers one win away from sixth NCAA championship
OMAHA -- The drama that has characterized the College World Series to this point continued Monday night in the opening game of the Championship Series as LSU battled back from two runs down against University of Texas in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game, eventually winning, 7-6, in 11 innings.
"That was probably the most courageous, never-say-die, just resilient effort that I've ever seen out of one of my teams in 27 years of coaching," LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. "It was one for the ages." Both teams had their chances in the late innings but were unable to scratch a run across until freshman Mikie Mahtook hit a go-ahead single to give the Tigers their final lead in the top of the 11th.
With a two-run lead in the top of the ninth and one on, Texas' went to reliever Taylor Jungmann, who had been lights out throughout the CWS. Jungmann walked a batter and pushed a 2-0 count on Tyler Hanover before being lifted in favor of Austin Dicharry, who battled back and struck out Hanover. Down to the final out, Cubs second-round Draft pick DJ LeMahieu wouldn't let him off the hook, nailing a pitch to the left-field corner for the two-out double to tie the game and send it to extra innings.
Texas coach Augie Garrido acknowledged that both teams were grinding it out in the final innings.
"It was two teams that were doing unbelievable things in order to win," Garrido said. "The team that lost that game was going to feel the wrath of baseball and have to deal with the difficulties of so many great things happening that there had to be a loser.
Not to be forgotten in the victory is the work of the LSU bullpen, which held the Longhorns hitless over the final five innings. Five Tigers relievers combined to hold Texas at bay, yielding only two walks.
College World Series schedule/results (Times ET)
|Sat., June 13 -- Bracket 1|
|Gm 1: Arkansas 10, Cal State Fullerton 6|
|Gm 2: LSU 9, Virginia 5|
|Sun., June 14 -- Bracket 2|
|Gm 3: Arizona State 5, North Carolina 2 (10 inn.)|
|Gm 4: Texas 7, Southern Miss 6|
|Mon., June 15 -- Bracket 1|
|Gm 5: Virginia 7, Cal State Fullerton 5|
|Cal State Fullerton is eliminated from the CWS|
|Gm 6: LSU 9, Arkansas 1|
|Tues., June 16 -- Bracket 2|
|Gm 7: UNC 11, Southern Miss 4|
|Southern Miss is eliminated from the CWS|
|Gm 8: Texas 10, ASU 6|
|Wed., June 17 -- Bracket 1|
|Gm 9: Arkansas 4, Virginia 3 (12 inn.)|
|Virginia is eliminated from the CWS|
|Thurs., June 18 -- Bracket 2|
|Gm 10: Arizona St. 12, North Carolina 5|
|North Carolina is eliminated from the CWS|
|Fri., June 19|
|Gm 11: LSU 14, Arkansas 5|
|Arkansas is eliminated from the CWS|
|Gm 12: Texas 4, Arizona St. 3|
|CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES -- June 22-24 (best of three)|
|Mon., June 22|
|Gm 15: LSU 7, Texas 6 (11 inn.)|
|Tues., June 23|
|Gm 16: Texas 5, LSU 1|
|Wed., June 24|
|Gm 17: LSU vs. Texas, 7 p.m.|
The game that ended with a manufactured small-ball run, began with what looked more like a home run derby than a baseball game, as the team's combined for seven home runs in the contest. Not known for its power, Texas slugged five homers, all off fifth-round Draft pick Louis Coleman. Coleman went six innings, giving up six runs, all earned, on nine hits. All of the five home runs the LSU ace yielded were of the solo variety. Coleman's other earned run came via a wild pitch.
Longhorns DH Russell Moldenhauer blasted two homers, his second and third of the College World Series. Moldenhauer's three home runs in Omaha are his only all season. Travis Tucker, Kevin Keyes and Connor Rowe all added homers for the Longhorns.
For its part, LSU got big offensive contributions from its draftees. Blue Jays fifth-round selection Ryan Schimpf started the Tigers off strong, knocking a solo shot in the first inning. LSU outfielder Jared Mitchell, first-round pick of the White Sox, tied the game in the seventh with a two-out, two-run double. LeMahieu added another homer in the seventh.
The Longhorns got a strong start from Chance Ruffin, who surrendered only three runs on five hits while striking out 10 over 5 2/3 innings. He appeared to exit the game with cramps, but he said afterward it wasn't his call.
"I was feeling fine, and I was going to fight through it," Ruffin said. "I never got asked for how I was feeling or anything like that. It was just the decision that was made."
The Tigers will be the home team Tuesday night as they go for the national championship, while the Longhorns have their backs against the wall. Jungmann will get the ball for the Longhorns, while Mainieri said he isn't sure which pitcher he will send to the mound. Sophomore Anthony Renaudo is the Tigers' No. 2 starter but would be pitching on three days' rest. It also remains to be seen if Mainieri will save him for a potential Game 3 on Wednesday.
Garrido said his club will have to completely forget this game if it wants to have a chance to get to Game 3.
"We've played with the spirit of a champion for a long time now," Garrido said. "We don't have to give that up because we lost a most difficult game. If you lose this game and you can't clear this game from your mind and you take it into tomorrow's game then you're going to lose that game before it starts."
Bailey Stephens is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.