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LSU rally evens Super Regional

UCI takes 7-2 lead into the ninth, but is overcome by host Tigers to force deciding game today.

June 08, 2008|By Barry Faulkner

In the LSU eighth, with the fans roaring uncontrollably for yet another rally, the Tigers did not disappoint.

“I can honestly tell you everybody in that dugout believes in what we’re doing and there’s not going to be any quit in anybody,” Mainieri said of his players, including eventual heroes Blake Dean and Louis Coleman.

“We’re never going to quit,” Dean said. “We’ll never stop fighting. We’re never going to give up, no matter if we’ve got two outs, two strikes, in the bottom of the ninth, down eight runs. We still think we can do it from there. I think that’s the biggest key for us. We keep believing and keep pushing and keep fighting.”

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Added Coleman, who earned the victory with three shutout innings of one-hit relief and is now 7-0: “We have a saying in our locker room: ‘Refuse to lose,’ ” Coleman said. “Everybody believes in each other, one through nine.”

The Tigers sent 10 hitters to the plate in the ninth, which began with a walk and a double against Pettis, who entered in the eighth without a save situation in place.

Pettis, one of five finalists for the national Stopper of the Year award, was victimized by an infield single to short to load the bases in the ninth, then walked Mitchell to force in a run and make it 7-5.

A grounder to third plated another run and Dean, the Tigers’ best hitter who was one for eight in the series to that point, followed with a single through the right side that tied the score.

Sean Ochinko followed with a single that drove in another run and the final run of the inning scored on DJ LeMahieu’s sacrifice fly to left.

Five runs, all earned, were charged to Pettis, who had not given up more than two in any of his previous 30 appearances. In fact, Pettis had allowed just eight earned runs in 43 2/3 innings all season (a 1.65 earned-run average) prior to Sunday.

“[Pettis] He didn’t have his stuff,” UCI catcher Aaron Lowenstein said. “Every day, he has been unreal for us this year. But he was a little out in front [in his delivery], leaving some pitches up, and they punished his mistakes. He fell behind in the count and they really took advantage of it.”

UCI gained the advantage in the fourth, when it batted around against LSU starter Jared Bradford.

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