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Monday, June 09, 2008

Greetings from Titletown, USA

BATON ROUGE - Three LSU baseball fans got in line outside Alex Box Stadium Monday morning at 9:30 a.m. The Super Regional championship game is not until 6 p.m. The line was getting bigger early this afternoon, and they don't even know if LSU will put a limited number of standing room only tickets on sale an hour or so before the game as they often do. LSU would like to, but it may not have the tickets as so many have already been purchased for this game.

The Tigers play California Irvine tonight on ESPN2 for the right to go to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., in the last game ever to be played in 70-year-old Alex Box Stadium, which has been the launching pad for 11 of LSU's 13 trips to Omaha.

Welcome to Titletown, USA.

I just told a friend not to drive over from Biloxi, Miss., with his two sons because he didn't have tickets, and I didn't think he'd be able to get any. He's coming anyway just to be near if not in.

Louisiana will never get a Major League Baseball team, so this is the closest thing the state has to hosting a World Series. And believe me, a championship game to get to the CWS in 7,760-seat Alex Box may be a scaled down version of somethng in MLB, but it's about as good an atmosphere as you will find in the sports world. In fact, since it's so intimate, it may even be better. Remember, it would have been better to see Springsteen in front of 500 at the Stone Pony Asbury Park, N.J., in the 1980s than in some oversized arena.

If you were at LSU's 9-7 victory Sunday, you know what I mean.

"There's something about this stadium," LSU second baseman Ryan Schimpf said.

For the first time in the NCAA postseason at home, the Tigers came from behind in the ninth inning to win. There have been many other rallies in the eighth and seventh and earlier, but never in the ninth in postseason here. LSU scored five runs in the top of the ninth to take the 9-7 lead and held on. Going into the eighth, it trailed 7-2. Jared Mitchell homered to lead off, and the Tigers added another run to make it 7-4, setting up the ninth.

"That was one of the ages," LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. "I will always remember this no matter what happens in the future."

More to come in the near future tonight.


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