Sunday, June 11
Tigers primed for another title run?
 
 Associated Press

OMAHA, Neb. -- The Louisiana State Tigers served notice Saturday night -- "gorilla ball" is alive and well, and ready for another College World Series run.

Blair Barbier hit a pair of homers and Brian Tallet pitched seven strong innings as LSU, which won four championships last decade, beat Texas 13-5 at Rosenblatt Stadium.

LSU coach Skip Bertman coined the phrase "gorilla ball" for the power-hitting style of baseball his teams used to win titles in 1991, '93, '96 and '97.

It showed up again Saturday.

The Tigers finished with 14 hits, including three homers and eight for extra-bases.

"LSU's game plan worked to perfection," Texas coach Augie Garrido said. "They executed very well. They capitalized on their strength and power."

Barbier's first homer highlighted a four-run first inning. His second, and eighth of the season, made it 6-2 in the fifth.

Then the Tigers added a six-run sixth to put the game out of reach, especially with Tallet (15-3) on the mound.

The 6-foot-7 left-hander allowed eight hits and five runs in 7 1/3 innings. He got 11 groundouts. His most serious challenge was overcoming a nose bleed in the fifth inning.

Texas' Jeff Ontiveros doubled to start the fifth, moved to third on a fly ball and scored on a ground out. Walking back to the mound, Tallet realized his nose was bleeding.

It took team trainers several minutes to stop the bleeding.

"Coming from Louisiana, I'm so used to the humidity, and here it was a lot of dry air," Tallet said. "I was able to come back from it."

Tallet gave up another run in the sixth when Tommy Nicholson singled and later scored, but then he retired the next seven batters before surrendering two runs and giving way to Hunter Gomez.

Gomez pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings.

LSU (49-17) advanced to face Southern California on Monday. Texas (46-20) will play Florida State in an elimination game.

"We have to go on," said Texas catcher Sam Anderson, who went 1-for-3 with a pair of RBI. "We have to look at FSU and not let it happen again."

The Tigers scored four runs on five hits in the first inning. Ryan Theriot led off with a double, moved to third on Mike Fontenot's single and scored on Brad Cresse's sacrifice fly.

Brad Hawpe followed with his 36th double of the season, tying the NCAA record and scoring Fontenot from third.

Then Barbier put Beau Hale's 3-1 pitch into the left-field stands to make it 4-0. Hale (12-6) gave up 10 hits and eight runs in 5 2/3 innings. Barbier went 3-for-4 with four RBI and scored three times.

"You have to get to Beau Hale early if you're going to get to him at all," Bertman said. "He's a tough competitor who's going to pitch in the big leagues."

The Longhorns got one run back quickly when Anderson led off the second inning with a homer, his first.

The Tigers answered, though, making it 5-1 with an unearned run in the second. Todd West's fielding error allowed Ray Wright to reach first. Wright scored two batters later on Fontenot's double down the right-field line.

"It was a heck of a time to have a bad game," Hale said.

Texas sandwiched a pair of runs around Barbier's second homer in the fifth, closing the gap to 6-3 in the sixth.

But LSU pulled away in the sixth. The Tigers sent 10 batters to the plate, scoring five of their six runs with two outs.

Pitching in relief of Hale, Eric Tomlinson walked all three batters he faced, bringing home two runs. Then Cedrick Harris and Jeremy Witten had back-to-back two-run hits.

"It kind of kills you," Hale said. "We got two outs ... things caved in from there."

Fontenot, 3-for-4, led off the seventh with a solo home run, his 17th.

"We just have to fight our way back," Garrido said.

Southern California 6, Florida State 4
Two years after pitching Southern California to its first College World Series championship since 1978, Rik Currier has the Trojans one game closer to another title.

The junior right-hander allowed six hits in 7 2/3 innings as the Trojans won their 16th straight game, beating Florida State in the first round.

"I was kind of comfortable out there. I felt at home," said Currier, who started for the Trojans when they beat Arizona State in the 1998 title game.

"The situation for me has changed. I came in as a freshman in '98 and I didn't have any expectations. I tried to look at it like any other game. "This time, I'm a junior, so I feel I should be expected to throw like that."

Anthony Lunetta, who was treated for strep throat shortly after arriving in Omaha, and Beau Craig homered for the Trojans (44-18). USC won in the opening round for the first time in three CWS trips under coach Mike Gillespie.

The Trojans, who play the winner of Saturday night's game between Texas and Louisiana State, haven't lost since April.

"We don't really think about it," said shortstop Seth Davidson, who drove in two runs and snared a line drive to start a game-ending double play with two runners on.

"I don't think it matters how many games you win in a row. The team looks at this like a tournament and we want to win the tournament."

Ryan Barthelemy had four hits for Florida State, two of them solo home runs.

"I'd trade all four of those hits if we could have had a 'W' today," Barthelemy said.

Currier (15-3) was the winner and Ronald Flores pitched 1 1/3 innings for his fourth save.

The Seminoles threatened in the bottom of the ninth, putting runners on first and second with one out. Blair McCaleb hit a line drive over Davidson's head, but the 6-foot junior leaped and held on to the ball before flipping it to Lunetta at second.

"When I jumped for the ball it scorched my glove. It started to squirm out a little bit, so I kind of had to turn my glove over to make sure I had it," Davidson said.

The Seminoles (51-18) extended their disappointing run at the CWS. Runner-up a year ago, Florida State has never won the national title in 17 previous trips.

Florida State will play an elimination game Monday against the loser of Saturday night's game.

The Seminoles' top three batters -- Chris Smith, John-Ford Griffin and Marshall McDougall -- were a combined 1-for-12 with three strikeouts. Smith's 25-game hitting streak came to an end.

McDougall, voted the CWS most outstanding player last year, had the only hit of the three with a two-out double in the eighth. He scored on Barthelemy's single up the middle to make it 5-4.

"The other team had 16 hits. That we had a rally going in the ninth is a credit to our guys," said Florida State's Mike Martin, who is the only coach in the bracket without a CWS title.

Currier made up for a lack of clutch hitting for USC. The Trojans left 14 runners on base, including nine in scoring position.

"I was frustrated. I think we all were with the number of opportunities we had but didn't convert," Gillespie said.

Currier struck out four. He forced 11 ground balls and Trojans outfielders only had to catch two fly balls while he was pitching.

After Barthelemy's leadoff homer in the third put Florida State up 2-0, Currier didn't allow another hit until Barthelemy's solo homer in the fifth.

USC took a 3-2 lead in the third on a rally started by Lunetta's homer. Treated at the hospital Thursday night for flu-like symptoms and held out of practice Friday, he was 2-for-3 and scored twice.

Alberto Martinez and Davidson added RBI singles in the third off Robby Reed, who replaced starter Blair Varnes (11-4) after just 3 1/3 innings. Varnes gave up three runs on six hits and two walks in his shortest outing of the season.

The Trojans added two more runs in the fifth on Craig's solo homer and an RBI single by Alberto Concepcion.

Florida State loaded the bases with no outs in the second, but got just one run out of it.
 



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