06/25/09 12:41 AM ET
LSU wins College World Series
Tigers tackle Texas for school's sixth national title
By Bailey Stephens / MLB.com
Mitchell, the White Sox first-round pick in June's First-Year Player Draft, propelled his team to victory as LSU demolished Texas, 11-4, on Wednesday night to win the College World Series and its sixth national championship.
For Mitchell, voted the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, there couldn't be a better going-away present.
"If there's a better way, write the story for me," Mitchell said. "I can't even explain it. It's been so much fun being around these guys, guys that really care about what's going on. To see us come together and accomplish something like this, it's special."
The Tigers' offense was on to Texas starter Cole Green from the outset. With two runners on, Mitchell stepped to the plate in the first inning and staked his team to an early three-run lead with a home run that curled around the right-field foul pole.
Several other Major League Baseball Draftees got in on the farewell tour as Blue Jays fifth-round pick Ryan Schimpf knocked an RBI single in the second while fellow Toronto pick Sean Ochinko (11th round) put the game out of reach with a two-RBI single in the five-run sixth. Ochinko capped off his 4-for-5 night, adding a home run in the top of the ninth for a total of three RBIs in the contest.
LSU sophomore ace Anthony Ranaudo battled for 5 1/3 innings, in and out of trouble, giving up four runs on eight hits. His control escaped him as he issued five walks, including a bases-loaded pass to Preston Clark in the third.
"It was just one of those innings," Ranaudo said. "I didn't have good command. I couldn't locate. ... I just told myself that I had to let the defense work for me and try to get out of this inning and limit the damage."
The Longhorns, who left 11 men on base, had their chances early against Ranaudo, but Texas coach Augie Garrido wouldn't speculate about the effect it had on the game.
"That may have changed the momentum," the veteran coach said. "I'm not going to be willing to pick our team apart. They've done too much, they've come too far."
In the fifth, the Longhorns rallied again and Kevin Keyes came up with a chance at redemption after striking out with the bases loaded in the first inning. He didn't make the same mistake twice, lining the first pitch into the left-field bleachers for a two-run homer.
LSU simply wouldn't go away that easily, chasing after Texas' bullpen in the sixth. After Keyes tied the game in the fifth, Mitchell fought his way on base with a walk and Mikie Mahtook, the hero of Game 1, responded with an RBI double to reclaim the lead.
"Through the middle innings, we got a little flat," Mitchell said. "I was coming up in the sixth inning and I just told myself to do something to spark this team."
Detroit Tigers fifth-round pick Austin Wood came into the game and hit a batter before giving up the two-RBI single to Ochinko. Wood got an ugly farewell as a hard liner off the bat of DJ LeMahieu knocked him out of the game in the eighth.
For the third night in a row, LSU's bullpen proved resilient, holding the Longhorns scoreless after Ranaudo's exit. The combined effort of Chad Jones, who made the switch to the bullpen from the outfield earlier this year, and Louis Coleman, the Royals' fifth-round Draft selection, kept Texas silent as the game and the national title slipped through the Longhorns' hands.
"How about Chad Jones! Isn't that the most unbelievable thing?, " LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. "Our bullpen was maligned all year. I just had a feeling it was going to keep getting better."
The program's sixth national championship is the first of Mainieri's head coaching career.
"I've dreamt my whole life of having this moment, after the game being able to talk about a national championship," Mainieri said. "Now that it's here, it's almost surreal."
Garrido complimented LSU, but insisted his team had nothing to hang its heads about.
"I don't think we lost this tournament," Garrido said. "I think they won it. It was a great effort that combined all of the ingredients of what baseball is about. ... A well-deserved championship for LSU."
Bailey Stephens is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.