Even in loss, LSU's Bradford shines on the mound
AP Photo/Dave Weaver
By Curt McKeever, Special to ESPN.com
OMAHA, Neb. -- The Skip Bertman Award is given each year to the LSU baseball player deemed to be the team's most inspirational.
AP Photo/Eric Francis
Paul Mainieri and LSU were stunned in the ninth by UNC.
With Jared Bradford this season, it probably wasn't a close vote.
On Friday, the right-handed senior pitcher gave the Tigers more than should have been physically possible, making their season-ending, 7-3 ninth-inning loss to North Carolina at the College World Series all the more gut-wrenching.
On Tuesday, Bradford threw 106 pitches to help LSU eliminate Rice.
Three days later, he was back on the mound, inheriting a 2-0 deficit with the bases loaded and just one out in the first inning.
Bradford got the double-play grounder that he and the Tigers sought. And thanks to his 76-pitch effort over 5 2/3 innings, LSU eventually drew even.
"We're taught to leave everything on the field, and the team did that tonight," said Bradford, an 18th-round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals. "I definitely have no regrets. I'm proud to say my last years were at LSU and I wouldn't have wanted to go anywhere else."
Bradford's tank was on empty as he began the sixth inning, but his sinker was still effective enough to get two ground-ball outs and his fifth strikeout to get his teammates back into the dugout.
LSU then tied the game in the bottom half on a two-run homer by Matt Clark. But Bradford gave way, and in the ninth Carolina's Tim Federowicz hit the first grand slam at the Series since 2001. And for once, the Tigers were out of the magic that had led to 26 wins in their past 28 games.
"My most overwhelming emotion is that I'm hurting very badly, because the team gave everything and left it all on the field," LSU coach Paul Mainieri said after his club ended the season with a 49-19-1 record. "I'll look back on the season with fond thoughts, but it hurts right now.
"Our kids competed as hard as they could, and obviously, we want the season to gone on forever. But tonight it came to an abrupt halt."
Aces Of Bases
By Curt McKeever, Special to ESPN.com
OMAHA, Neb. -- Alex White had enough on his hands just trying to deal with LSU at the College World Series on Friday night.
The Tigers, who on Tuesday had produced their ninth final-at-bat victory of the season to eliminate Rice from the event, had the Rosenblatt Stadium crowd rocking while threatening to pull off another one in a 3-3 game that had reached the bottom of the eighth inning.
The scene was serious enough that the right-handed sophomore White, the ACC Pitcher of the Year, had been called to make just the fourth relief appearance of his career and first since March 15, after the Tar Heels' rubber-armed closer Rob Wooten made a fielding error to let speedy leadoff hitter Jared Mitchell reach base.
World Series SuperlativesOMAHA, Neb. -- Georgia is in the College World Series driver's seat, but do the Dawgs have the best fans? Which team in Omaha is the most superstitious? ESPN The Magazine's Ryan McGee has spent the past seven days scouting what's hot -- and what's not -- at the CWS. For the complete story, click here.
STOCK UP/stock down
|North Carolina's sophomore slugger went 4-for-4 at the plate -- the fourth time he's had four hits in a game this season. He has 111 hits total on the season.|
|Coleman was having a superb outing -- six strikeouts and just two hits over three innings -- until Federowicz's blast in the ninth.|
|Though quiet for most of the CWS, Federowicz picked an ideal time to make a statement. The UNC junior, making his 16th CWS start, hit the first grand slam in Omaha since 2001 to break open a 3-3 tie and give Carolina the win.|
|After a rocky 2007 CWS, UNC's sophomore ace got his second win at the '08 CWS, and his fourth of the NCAA tournament.|
Postgame Extra: UNC
By The NumbersBy ESPN Research
30,422 The crowd that turned out for LSU-North Carolina set the College World Series single-session attendance record -- edging the previous record of 30,355 (UNC-Cal State Fullerton and Oregon State-Rice on June 21, 2006). The largest single-game CWS crowd had been 26,887 between Oregon State and UNC on June 23, 2007.
8 This is just the eighth time since 1980 that a game in the CWS had been postponed a day. The last time it happened was June 13, 2000 (Clemson vs. La.-Lafayette and USC vs. Florida State).
280 Tim Federowicz's grand slam was the 45th all-time at the CWS and the first since June 11, 2001 (by Georgia's David Coffey) -- a span of 280 plate appearances. It was Federowicz's third career homer in Omaha and his first career grand slam.
On Tap At The CWSAll times Eastern
Saturday, June 21
Game 11 -- No. 8 Georgia (43-23-1) vs. Stanford (41-23-2), 2 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN360)
Game 12 -- Fresno State (44-29) vs. No. 2 North Carolina (53-14), 7 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN360)
For the full schedule, click here.