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Thursday, May 21, 2009


BATON ROUGE - While the naysayers, alarmists and those with a football mentality went into a panic after LSU's loss to Vanderbilt Wednesday in the Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament, those who know simply knew better.
The second-ranked Tigers eliminated No. 12 Alabama with power and strong starting pitching Thursday afternoon, 9-6, at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala., and advanced to a 6:30 p.m. game Friday against the loser of Thursday's late game between South Carolina and Vanderbilt.
Whatever team loses that game will not have its ace available for Friday night. LSU will have its ace in well-rested senior right-hander Louis Coleman (10-2, 2.99 ERA). LSU's other ace, sophomore right-hander Anthony Ranaudo, pitched well again Thursday in defeating Alabama to go to 8-3 on the season. Ranaudo struggled a little early, but as usual, he recovered with a vengeance and pitched into the seventh inning. Buzzy Haydel relieved him but had to be relieved by Matty Ott to get out of the eighth inning. Ott was not his usual perfect self but did enough to earn his SEC-high 13th save.
Derek Helenihi, benched early this season at third base for freshman Tyler Hanover, was the hero Thursday as he delivered a pinch-hit, three-run home run to give the Tigers a 9-3 lead, and LSU (42-16) held on for the win. Helenihi caught the last out in right field as Alabama had the tying run at the plate.
LSU likely had a top eight national seed and the home field advantage sewed up before it arrived in Hoover, but the win Thursday puts it beyond doubt, though some on Baton Rouge radio Thursday thought LSU may be in trouble at 0-2 here.
We'll never know now.
LSU's next meaningful game will be Friday in Alex Box Stadium in the NCAA Regional.


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