Work in Sports
Bertman's Tigers rally to win fifth title since 1991
OMAHA, Nebraska -- Brad Cresse has taken his place alongside Warren Morris in Louisiana State baseball lore.
Cresse's RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning plated the winning run as LSU won its fifth College World Series championship in 10 years with a dramatic 6-5 victory over Stanford at Rosenblatt Stadium.
The Tigers (52-17) rallied from a three-run deficit to join Southern California (12) and Arizona State (5) as the only schools with five national crowns. They are a perfect 5-0 in the title game and completed this year's NCAA Tournament with a 9-0 record.
After scoring the game-winner, Ryan Theriot jumpped up and tossed his batting helmet into the air. His teammates surrounded him, then seconds later, they all made a beeline for Cresse, who was standing alone between first and second.
The celebration continued as family, friends and fans poured onto the Rosenblatt Stadium field. The players donned championship T-shirts, hats and -- in typical LSU style -- Mardi Gras beads.
"We always knew this was a national championship team and we weren't going to let it work out any other way," Ray Wright said.
Blair Barbier wouldn't let them.
Barbier, the team captain, huddled the players together in the dugout before the eighth inning. He had two questions for them: "Can you believe? Do you believe?"
His teammates answered him with three runs in the eighth and the game-winner in the ninth, improving to 5-0 in championship games.
Theriot started the ninth-inning rally with a single to left, and Mike Fontenot followed with a walk, setting up Cresse's heroics.
Cresse, LSU's leading hitter this season, stepped to the plate having gone 1-for-12 in the series with eight strikeouts.
He lined Wayne's 0-1 pitch over the infield, and Theriot easily beat left fielder Andy Topham's throw home.
"You always want to go out winning the national championship, and it came true," Cresse said. "Last night, I dreamt about being up at the plate with winning run on base. I dreamt of a home run, but I'll take a single."
Trey Hodges (5-2) pitched four scoreless innings for his second win of the tournament. He also picked up a save and was selected the CWS' most outstanding player.
Hodges retired 10 of the final 11 batters he faced.
"I could really care less who got the win or the MVP as long as we got the ring," Hodges said.
Wayne (15-4) gave up four hits and four runs in relief of starter Jason Young, Stanford's ace.
Coach Mark Marquess pulled Young after giving up four hits and two runs in four innings.
The move backfired -- eventually.
Wayne started the fifth inning and seven of his first nine outs were strikeouts, four of them looking.
But LSU (52-17) tied it at 5 in the eighth inning with two home runs.
"We figured we would have to use both of them," Marquess said. "I thought Jason was getting a little tired after two times through the lineup.
"At this stage, I don't worry about the pitcher of record. I felt Justin's slider was a good match for them. And it was. They didn't get a hit until the eighth. But it was a tough decision."
Barbier, after fouling off three pitches to stay alive, reached out and slapped Wayne's 2-2 changeup over the left-field fence to make it 5-3. It was Barbier's ninth homer of season and third of the CWS.
Wayne walked Wally Pontiff, and with one out, Witten lined a two-run homer into left.
"This team has a lot of guts," said Witten, the only current LSU player to win three championships. "We score with two out and we never give up. There's a lot of fight in this team. That's why we love this team."
Stanford (50-16) had been undefeated in CWS championship games. The Cardinal looked to make it 3-0 in title games and claim their first championship since 1988 with an early lead.
Chris O'Riordan and Topham hit back-to-back singles to start the fourth. With one out, LSU starter Brian Tallet hit Damien Alvarado to load the bases, setting up Craig Thompson's grand slam.
Thompson ripped Tallet's 2-1 pitch on a line over the left-field fence for his 12 homer of the season. His second career grand slam gave Stanford a 4-2 lead.
Tallet allowed 11 hits and five runs in five-plus innings.
"He battled them and left runners on base all day," LSU coach Skip Bertman said. "He gave us a chance to stay in the ballgame."
Especially since the Tigers had little going offensively.
LSU scored two runs off Young in the second, but didn't get another hit until Barbier's homer in the eighth.
In the second, Pontiff doubled to lead off the inning and Cedrick Harris followed with an RBI single. Harris scored three batters later on Theriot's ground ball to second base.
The Cardinal took a 5-2 lead in the sixth on John Gall's two-out single, scoring Alvarado. They left the bases loaded, though, when Barbier made a diving stab on O'Riordan's ground ball down the third-base line and threw him out at first.
An even bigger defensive play came in the third when Wright reached over the right-field fence and pulled back what would have been a two-run homer of the bat of Edmund Muth.
"The whole game was up and down but we just kept pecking away," Harris said. "They had a lot of momentum, but fortunately it swung back to us. And because of that, we're national champions."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.