National Freshman Pitcher of the Year Alex Lange threw a complete game six-hitter and the Tigers’ bats came alive for 13 hits, as the LSU baseball team eliminated Cal State Fullerton from the College World Series, 5-3, on Tuesday.
Lange, who became the third pitcher in LSU history to start a season 12-0, allowed three runs on four-straight hits in the first inning before recovering to complete a brilliant performance. After the first, he gave up only two hits while striking out 10. Aaron Nola (2013) and Lloyd Peever (1992) each reached a dozen wins without a loss at LSU.
His complete game was the first by an LSU pitcher in the College World Series since Brett Laxton won the 1993 championship game against Wichita State.
“Obviously, the understatement of the day is that we’re so happy to get a win finally at TD Ameritrade Ballpark,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “Beautiful ballpark and a wonderful city. But it was like it was a ‘curse’ on the LSU Tigers for a couple of years. But great ballgame. Obviously the story of the game wasAlex Lange, who has been just absolutely terrific all year. He just put the team on his shoulders after a rough first inning.
“I just think the true character of a player shows when they get knocked on the ground like he did in the first inning, and then he just regrouped, never lost his confidence, never lost his aggressiveness.”
“I wasn’t really nervous or anything, or amped up,” Lange said. “I left a couple of pitches up and they do what good hitters do, they hit the ball. I took a step back and regrouped in the dugout and just really focused on what I needed to do to go out there and execute my pitches, just hit my spots where (pitching) Coach (Alan) Dunn and (catcher) Kade (Scivicque) calls them and leave it up to the defense. They’ve been great all year. Pitching with that defense behind me makes it real easy.”
LSU’s high-powered offense broke a streak of four games without double figure hits and took its first lead of the 2015 CWS with a four-run top of the third inning.
Alex Bregman, batting leadoff for the first time this season, was 4-for-5 with singles in each of his first four at bats — three of which started innings. Mark Laird, who batted eighth, was 3-for-4 whileKade Scivicque was 2-for-4 at the plate with two runs.
“It was great to see Bregman have a big game,” Mainieri said. “It was great to see Laird have a big game, and Kade has been so outstanding for us all year. We had 13 hits, unfortunately scored only five runs. We made it a little tougher on Alex (Lange) than it needed to be. We needed to take advantage of a few more opportunities that we did have, and we’ll have to do better as we go forward if we want to continue to play.
“But we’ll take the win. We’re not going to critique too much of it today. We’re just happy to win a game.”
LSU (54-11) returns to action on Thursday at 7 p.m. CT and will face TCU, which lost 1-0 to Vanderbilt on Tuesday night. The game will be televised by ESPN and broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network beginning at 6:30 p.m.
In the bottom of the first inning, Lange gave up four straight hits for the first time in his college career. After a pop-up to start the frame, CSF’s Tyler Stieb singled to center field and came home on a triple by Davi Olmedo-Barrera to put the Titans ahead, 1-0. Jerrod Bravo also singled up the middle to score Olmedo-Barrera, and Tanner Pinkston added another base hit to right to put LSU behind, 3-0.
The Tigers’ big inning came in the top of the third when Bregman, Jake Fraley and Scivicque each singled to left off Titans starter Connor Seabold (5-4). Bregman scored on Scivicque’s hit and Fraley came around to score on a single to right by Chris Sciambra that sent Seabold to the shower. A sacrifice fly off CSF reliever Miles Chambers by Andrew Stevenson scored Scivicque to tie the game at 3-3.
With two outs, Chris Chinea singled to put runners on first and second, then Laird lined a single through the right side. LSU took a 4-3 lead and never looked back behind Lange.
Chambers got into a groove until the seventh inning when Scivicque doubled to left-center field and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Conner Hale. Cal State Fullerton went to the bullpen, and LSU countered with pinch hitter Danny Zardon, who hit a sacrifice fly on the first pitch to give Lange another insurance run, 5-3.