(2) Tar Heels 7, (7) Tigers 3
June 20, 2008
Federowicz's grand slam in ninth eliminates LSU from CWS
Updated: June 21, 2008, 1:16 AM ET
OMAHA, Neb. -- LSU took the risk. North Carolina reaped the reward.
Tim Federowicz made the Tigers pay for intentionally walking the batter before him, hitting a grand slam in the top of the ninth inning Friday night to send North Carolina to a 7-3 victory in a College World Series elimination game disrupted twice by rain over two days.
"It was a great feeling to get up there with bases loaded in the College World Series with a chance to put us ahead," Federowicz said. "I struck out the at-bat before, and I knew he would bring the slider. My adrenaline was pumping."
Federowicz channeled that energy and drove LSU reliever Louis Coleman's 1-1 slider into the middle of the stands in left field.
Carolina (53-13) moved to the Bracket 2 final against Fresno State on Saturday. The Tar Heels must beat the Bulldogs (44-29) twice to return to the best-of-three championship series for the third straight year.
Federowicz was an unlikely hero in the Tar Heels' second win over LSU in this CWS. When he came to bat in the ninth, he was 1-for-11 in three CWS games, and he was 11-for-61 (.180) in 16 games in Omaha the past three years.
"I'd struggled a little bit, but I felt comfortable," he said. "I was confident going up there."
Coleman (8-1) was impressive for LSU (49-19-1) in the seventh and eighth innings. But Ryan Graepel doubled with one out, and things began to unravel for him.
Coleman intentionally walked Dustin Ackley, who had reached four times, and then struck out pinch-hitter Mark Fleury after his wild pitch put runners on second and third.
LSU coach Paul Mainieri chose to have Coleman, who had allowed one home run in 55 innings, intentionally walk Tim Fedroff, who came into the game batting .401, and take his chances with Federowicz with the bases loaded.
"I already have asked myself several times if I did the right thing," Mainieri said. "If I had to do it over 1,000 times, I'd do the same thing. It just didn't work out for us."
Federowicz hit his fifth homer of the season and his first career grand slam. It also was the CWS' first slam since 2001. Since then, there had been 280 bases loaded situations in the Series.
As soon as the ball left the park, Tar Heel players spilled out of the dugout for a welcoming party at home plate.
Carolina coach Mike Fox said Federowicz was due to break through in Omaha.
"Sometimes this game can be cruel and humble you, so you have to keep plugging," Fox said. "He hit the ball hard early in the series. Sometimes you don't get rewarded when you do everything right. I'm happy for Tim because he's been a big part of our program the last three years."
For LSU, there would be no dramatic rally in the ninth. The Tigers had come back in the ninth inning Tuesday to beat Rice 6-5 for its 30th come-from-behind win of the season.
Alex White (12-3), who earned the win in Sunday's 8-4 win over LSU, got Michael Hollander to hit into a double play to end the game.
"I guess we ran out of miracles," Mainieri said.
White, making his third relief appearance of the season and first since March, got out of trouble in the eighth after walking Matt Clark, who had tied it 3-all in the sixth with his nation-leading 28th homer.
DJ LeMahieu popped out to second and Leon Landry then grounded out to third for the final out.
The game was twice stopped because of weather -- once Thursday night that forced the game to be suspended with North Carolina leading 2-0 in the top of the first, and again Friday for 1 hour, 27 minutes.
Carolina turned a double, single, walk and two hit batsmen into the 2-0 lead before the rain came Thursday. The bases were loaded with one out when play was suspended, and Mainieri talked about how he hoped the Tar Heels would hit into a double play once the game resumed Friday.
With Jared Bradford having taken over for starter Blake Hill, Carolina's Garrett Gore obliged, grounding to Hollander at third to start the wished-for, inning-ending double play.
The Tigers got a run back in the second on LeMahieu's RBI single.
Players were pulled off the field with one out in the top of the third because of lightning. Rain started a short time later, heavier than on Thursday.
So after 18 minutes of elapsed game time Thursday and 29 minutes Friday, play stopped again.
The long wait proved worthwhile for the Tar Heels.
"My team has a lot of heart," Fox said. "We hung in there."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press