(3) Tigers 9, Razorbacks 1
June 15, 2009
LSU rides three homers to 2-0 mark at CWS
Updated: June 16, 2009, 1:16 AM ET
OMAHA , Neb. -- LSU is bringing back memories of its powerful and storied teams of the 1990s, thriving on the long ball and romping through the College World Series.
Mikie Mahtook, Austin Nola and Blake Dean hit home runs Monday night to keep the Tigers unbeaten at the College World Series with a 9-1 victory over Arkansas.
"You saw what we're capable of doing," coach Paul Mainieri said. "When we're clicking, it can be a pretty good offense 1 through 9."
The No. 3-seeded Tigers (53-16) were clicking against their Southeastern Conference rivals, winning their 12th straight game to take control of Bracket 2. They get three days off before playing the Razorbacks or Virginia on Friday. Another win sends LSU to next week's best-of-three finals.
Arkansas (40-23) and Virginia meet Wednesday in an elimination game.
LSU has hit five home runs in two CWS games and has 99 for the season, one short of last year's total but far behind the NCAA-record 188 by the so-called "Gorilla Ball" team of 1997.
The Tigers turned on the power early against Arkansas starter Brett Eibner. Mahtook hit a three-run homer in the first, and Eibner (5-5) got pulled after Ryan Schimpf's double put LSU up 4-1 with two outs in the second.
Merrill: Tigers PounceThough LSU doesn't think it's hitting on all cylinders, Monday's win showed what the Tigers are capable of, Elizabeth Merrill writes. Story
TJ Forrest kept the Tigers quiet until the sixth, when they erupted for five more runs, with four of them coming with two out. The normally light-hitting Nola turned on a fastball for his third homer of the season and Dean hammered his 16th deep into the right-field seats.
"It happened real quick," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "We had a chance to get out of it, and then bang. They've got some pop."
Mahtook said patience at the plate sets up the long ball for the Tigers.
"You fight off pitches you don't like, and the more he throws, the more like he makes a mistake," he said. "When he did, we capitalized on it."
The offensive showing made for a stress-free night for SEC Pitcher of the Year Louis Coleman (14-2).
"Mikie hit the three-run homer, and it's off to the races for us," Mainieri said. "When you give Coleman a big lead, you feel pretty good about your chances."
Coleman pitched a two-hit shutout against Arkansas on May 2, and he was pretty good again Monday. He allowed one run on six hits before leaving after the sixth inning. He struck out seven.
"Our team has so much confidence in him, really," Mainieri said. "Every time you give him the ball, you expect him to keep you in the game."
• LSU beat Arkansas for the third straight time after falling in the first meeting of the season.
• The Tigers are off to a 2-0 start at the CWS. Seventeen of the last 19 champions opened the tourney 2-0.
• LSU has won multiple games in Omaha for the first time since its national title run in 2000.
• The Tigers scored eight of their nine runs with two outs.
-- ESPN Stats & Information
Relievers Daniel Bradshaw and Nolan Cain finished LSU's third win in four meetings against its conference rival.
Coleman was at his best in the third inning after Arkansas loaded the bases, and his defense helped him out in the fourth and fifth.
Coleman went right after left-handed pinch hitter Jacob House after walking the bases full. When House swung and missed on an 0-2 pitch, Coleman glided off the mound toward his dugout pumping his right fist.
"Arkansas was battling hard and they were taking good pitches right off the edge of the plate," Coleman said. "I had to keep competing, and at the end I was able to throw the slider in there."
The next inning, second baseman DJ LeMahieu dived to his right to stop Chase Leavitt's hard grounder up the middle, got up and threw to first just in time.
In the fifth, Zack Cox sent a shot that bounced off first baseman Sean Ochinko's chest. Ochinko picked up the ball, sprawled out and touched the bag with his glove just before Cox arrived.
After the fifth, the Hogs couldn't get a runner past first base until the ninth.
Arkansas' Andy Wilkins said he and his teammates have shown the ability to survive tough circumstances. The Hogs lost 10 of 14 entering the national tournament, then rolled off six wins before losing Monday.
"We're not out of it," Wilkins said. "We've been fighting all year, showing character all year. We know it's not over and that we're still capable of winning it. That's the mind set we're going to have."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press