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LSU wins SEC Title


LSU 8 Ole Miss 2

HOOVER, Ala. — Designated hitter Blake Dean’s two-run homer Sunday highlighted a five-run LSU fifth inning, and right-hander Louis Coleman fired six scoreless relief innings to lead the eighth-ranked Tigers to an 8-2 victory over Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament championship game at Regions Park.

LSU (43-16-1) won its 20th straight game, establishing a school record. The previous mark of 19 consecutive wins was set by the 1997 club. The Tigers, who trailed 2-1 entering the bottom of the fifth inning, won for the 16th time during the 20-game streak after facing a deficit.

LSU claimed its seventh SEC Tournament championship and its first since 2000. LSU and Alabama are tied for the most league tournament titles with seven apiece.

Ole Miss, playing in its third SEC Tournament title game in the last four seasons, dropped to 37-24 with Sunday’s loss.

LSU will play host to the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional beginning at 1 p.m. Friday. The entire NCAA Tournament field, including the eight national seeds will be announced at 11:30 a.m. Monday on ESPN.

“It’s a tremendous feeling to be SEC Tournament champions,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “This is a game we really wanted to win very badly. I think it’s important for these kids to learn to win championships. It was a tremendous total team effort. I’m very proud to be the coach of the LSU Tigers.

“If there ever was a team that defines unselfishness, this is it. There’s an old saying that there’s no telling what you can accomplish if no one cares who gets the credit, and I think this team epitomizes that.”

LSU exploded for five runs in the fifth to erase a 2-1 deficit and take a 6-2 lead. Shortstop DJ LeMahieu led off the inning with a double, and he advanced to third on a double by centerfielder Leon Landry. Second baseman Ryan Schimpf then ripped the Tigers’ third straight double, scoring LeMahieu and Landry and prompting Baker’s exit from the mound.

Hollander followed with a infield single against Ole Miss reliever Jake Morgan before leftfielder Jared Mitchell fanned for the first out of the inning. Schimpf and Hollander executed a double steal, and rIghtfielder Derek Helenihi’s sacrifice fly to right field gave LSU a 4-2 lead.

Dean, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, punctuated the rally with a two-run blast to right-centerfield, increasing the advantage to 6-2. The dinger was Dean’s 16th of the season and his third in the SEC Tournament. He hit a grand slam Saturday versus Alabama, and he launched a walk-off solo shot in the 10th inning Wednesday against South Carolina.

“We started off slow at the beginning of the year,” Dean said, “but we worked our tails off. Today we fell behind, battled back and looked to Louis Coleman to close it out. We came out today ready to play and we got the job done.”

The Tigers added a run in the seventh when Mitchell lined a two-out double, stole third base and scored on a wild pitch by Ole Miss reliever Cody Satterwhite.

First baseman Matt Clark led off the LSU eighth inning with a homer, his 22nd of the season and his third of the tournament.

Dean, Clark, Schimpf and LSU left-hander Blake Martin – who defeated Vanderbilt on Thursday – were named to the SEC All-Tournament team.

Ole Miss took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning against LSU starter Daniel Bradshaw when rightfielder Jordan Henry singled, moved to third on designated hitter Fuller Smith’s single and scored on leftfielder Logan Power’s RBI groundout.

LSU tied the game in the bottom of the frame when Hollander singled against Ole Miss starter Nathan Baker, moved to second on Mitchell’s sacrifice bunt and scored when Ole Miss shortstop committed a throwing error on a grounder hit by rightfielder Derek Helenihi.

Ole Miss reclaimed the lead in the second when centerfielder Michael Guerrero launched a solo homer, his fifth dinger of the tournament.

However, Ole Miss was held scoreless the rest of the way, as Coleman – who entered the game in the fourth inning – was brilliant in relief. Coleman improved his record to 6-0 on the year as he allowed just three hits in six innings with no walks and seven strikeouts.

Baker (3-5) was charged with the loss as he surrendered four runs – three earned – on five hits in four innings with no walks and two strikeouts.

2008 SEC Baseball Tournament All-Tournament Team

P Lance Lynn, Ole Miss
P Blake Martin, LSU ; Austin Hyatt, Alabama
C Alex Avila, Alabama
1B Matt Clark, LSU; Andrew Giobbi, Vanderbilt
2B Ryan Schimph, LSU
3B Chris McClendon, Kentucky
SS Ryan Flaherty, Vanderbilt
OF Michael Guerrero, Ole Miss
OF Jordan Henry, Ole Miss
OF Kent Matthes, Alabama; Sawyer Carroll, Kentucky
DH Blake Dean, LSU

Most Valuable Player: Blake Dean, LSU

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