- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 20, 2009

OMAHA, Neb. | Paul Mainieri can’t think of a thing he would change about the way his LSU Tigers are playing at the College World Series.

That’s surely a scary thought for whomever the Tigers end up playing in next week’s best-of-three finals.

LSU used an impressive show of power and pitching to win Bracket 1 with a 14-5 victory over Arkansas on Friday. The Tigers hit four home runs, raising their CWS total to nine in three games, and Anthony Ranaudo bounced back from a subpar outing to throw six shutout innings.

“It’s a dream come true that we got to this point,” said Mainieri, the Tigers’ third-year coach. “When I say a dream, it’s not that I didn’t think we couldn’t. We thought we could when we started the year. Now there’s an opportunity for us, and now we’ll see if we can seize it.”

The Tigers, playing for their sixth national title and first since 2000, await Texas in the finals beginning Monday.

The Tigers (54-16) hadn’t played since Monday’s 9-1 win over Arkansas, and they had to wait even longer because of a thunderstorm that pushed back the start of Friday’s game 2 1/2 hours.

“They were champing at the bit to get back out there on the ballfield,” Mainieri said.

Once out there, the Tigers showed no signs of rust against an Arkansas team they dominated all year. Arkansas (41-24) was outscored 23-6 by LSU in two CWS games, and the Razorbacks lost four of five overall against the Tigers this season.

LSU scored in six of the nine innings Friday and shut out Arkansas for 14 straight innings over their two meetings in Omaha. The Tigers also beat Virginia 9-5 and have won 13 in a row.

“Up to this point, we’ve been rolling pretty well,” said designated hitter Blake Dean, who hit LSU’s first homer in the fifth. “We haven’t reached a stress point in any game. Our toughest game so far was Virginia. Up to this point, we’ve been playing good hard baseball, and we’re more confident than we ever have been.”

The Tigers went deep three straight innings to give Ranaudo (11-3) a big cushion.

Ranaudo, who lasted 3 1/3 innings in last Saturday’s start against Virginia, allowed four hits and had five strikeouts against no walks. Austin Ross took over to start the seventh with the Tigers leading 11-0.

“I just flushed the last start,” Ranaudo said. “I tried to pound the zone early. With what the offense did by scoring runs early, it gave me time to relax and throw strikes.”

TEXAS 4, ARIZONA STATE 3: Connor Rowe hit a solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, moments after Cameron Rupp tied it with a homer of his own as the Longhorns came from behind to beat the Sun Devils and advance to the finals.

Rowe sent a shot into the left-field seats, then sprinted around the bases with his helmet raised in his right hand as his celebrating teammates waited at home plate to greet him.

Two batters earlier, Rupp homered over the 22-foot wall in straightaway center field to tie it.

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