Box Opens with Big LSU Win

POSTED: Friday, February 20, 2009 - 10:51pm

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 10:57pm

Leftfielder Blake Dean blasted a three-run homer and centerfielder Jared Mitchell had three RBI as the Tigers exploded for a 12-3 victory over Villanova (0-1) in the season-opener in the new Alex Box Stadium.

The Tigers (1-0), who are ranked No. 1 by Collegiate Baseball and USA Today/ESPN, captured their eighth-straight home opener in front of a crowd of 9,054 in the new stadium’s inaugural contest.

Senior right-hander Louis Coleman (1-0) started hot on the mound for the Tigers, striking out the side in the top of the first inning. Coleman got the win, lasting five innings and surrendering no runs on two hits with two walks and eight strikeouts.

“Louis did exactly what I hoped he would do,” said head coach Paul Mainieri. “I thought his experience would lend to him having tremendous poise under the circumstances and if he could dominate the game early it would give our guys the opportunity to get their feet wet in the new season.”

LSU got the scoring started early with the help of some Villanova errors, as the Tigers notched four runs in the first inning. Jared Mitchell singled up the middle with the bases loaded, scoring Ryan Schimpf and Micah Gibbs. After Mitchell stole second, first baseman Sean Ochinko knocked in Mitchell and D.J. LeMahieu with a deep drive to left field that hit off the glove of Villanova leftfielder Matt McFolling, making the score 4-0.

LSU went up 5-0 in the second when third baseman Derek Helenihi scored from third on a balk by Villanova starter Chris Pack.

Pack (0-1), who was charged with the loss, gave up five runs, one of them earned, on four hits in four innings of work.

Mitchell got his third RBI of the evening on a single in the fifth inning when he knocked in. LeMahieu, who tripled off Nova reliever Mike Francisco.

Mitchell finished 2-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored.

The Tigers took a 9-0 lead in the sixth when leftfielder Blake Dean hit a three-run home run off Francisco, who walked Leon Landry and Schimpf prior to facing Dean. Francisco left the game after an inning and a third when he gave up a double to Gibbs following Dean’s homer.

The Wildcats scored their first two runs in the seventh inning when third baseman Kevin Wager singled to left off LSU reliever Nolan Cain. Wager then scored from third on a passed ball a few batters later to cut the Tiger lead to 9-3.

LSU extended the lead to 11-3 in the bottom of the seventh when Schimpf doubled to right scoring Nicholas Pontiff and Landry.

Freshmen Austin Nola, Tyler Hanover, Grant Dozar and Mikie Mahtook all saw action in the season opener. Nola singled in the eighth inning and scored on a wild pitch to make the score 12-3.

The season-opening series in the new Alex Box stadium continues Saturday at 2 p.m. and will conclude Sunday at noon.

Sophomore right-hander Anthony Ranaudo is slated to take the mound for LSU while Villanova will counter with junior right-hander Brian Strelein.