Two up, two down

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
LSU freshman Alex Bregman came into Omaha batting .380 but went 0-8 in the Tigers' two losses. Photo by LSUsports.net.

If you blinked, you missed seeing the Tigers in Omaha.

LSU spent much of the year as the No. 1 team in the nation and even headed into the NCAA Tournament as the country's top-ranked team but after just two games, they were ousted from the College World Series.

The Tigers made their way to Omaha after they ran through their regional with wins over Jackson State, Sam Houston State and ULL.

In the Baton Rouge Super Regional, they swept Oklahoma--which included an emphatic 11-1 beatdown in game two. The euphoric victory pushed the Tigers on to the College World Series for the 16th time in school history.

It was their first trip to Omaha since they won their sixth national title in 2009. But this time around, LSU failed to collect a single victory.

In their first game with UCLA, they took the opening lead when Mason Katz belted out the first homer of the World Series by any team. The solo blast gave the Tigers a 1-0 advantage that ace Aaron Nola kept intact until LSU uncharacteristically let errors do them in.

In the sixth, UCLA's Brian Carroll got to second on a bunt after catcher Ty Ross made an errant throw to first base. The error proved to be costly as Carroll eventually came home to tie the score after a sacrifice fly into left.

And in the eighth, the Tigers fell behind for the first time after an error at shortstop by National Freshman of the Year Alex Bregman.

With two outs, Bregman let a routine grounder get by him. So, instead of the play ending in an easy out and the end of the inning, a run came to score--giving UCLA their first lead of the game at 2-1.

Prior to the game, LSU had a 98 percent fielding percentage.

The lead would eventually hold as the Tigers fell into the losers' bracket where they were forced to play the top-seeded team in the nation with their season hanging in the balance.

No. 1 North Carolina quickly got to Cody Glenn--who hadn't pitched since May 22. Tar Heel catcher Brian Holberton jacked a two-run homer in the top of the first to quickly give them the lead.

North Carolina got another run in the third--forcing Glenn to cut his stint short. Brent Bonvillain then entered in relief, but the damage was already done. With the 3-0 deficit, the Tigers were forced to play catchup for the rest of the game.

They were able to collect 10 hits, but they never could capitalize on the offense. They left 13 men stranded on base. They stranded 20 base-runners total in their two losses in Omaha.

The hitting was just never consistent for the Tigers in their two games at the World Series. They batted .308 for the year but in addition to leaving 20 men on base, they were only able to muster five hits against UCLA in the first game and three total runs for both contests.

The freshman phenom Bregman led the team in hitting throughout the year. He came to Omaha with a big-time .380 batting average, but he went 0-8 in the Tigers' two losses.

Raph Rhymes had much of the same struggles. He was batting close to .350, but he also failed to register a single hit in Omaha--going a very ordinary 0-9.

JaCoby Jones--who was so hot in the Super Regional--cooled down considerably. He was just 1-7 in Omaha.

The lack of hitting is what really did the Tigers in. When it came to pitching, LSU was actually pretty solid.

Nola was dealt his first loss of the year against UCLA, but the defeat really came on the heels on shoddy defense. Both runs he gave up in the game were unearned scores the Bruins generated from the two costly LSU errors.

North Carolina did most of their damage in the first three innings. Even though the Tar Heels finished with 11 hits, they only accumulated four runs.

This now marks the third time in LSU's last five trips to Omaha that they have failed to win a game. Excluding the 2009 title year, the Tigers are just 1-6 in the World Series since 2003.