The championship trophy appeared behind the Rosenblatt Stadium backstop with LSU still needing three outs to claim it, but with a seven-run lead the bold Tigers fans in the first few rows starting snapping photos of the soon-to-be Baton Rouge-bound hardware.
Then, the fans readied their cameras again, as
Only instead of a mortarboard, Coleman chucked his glove some 20-feet high before his catcher,
"I don't care," the jubilant SEC Pitcher of the Year said. "I hope I lost it."
As always, the offensive catalyst for LSU was junior right-fielder
The mostly LSU partisan bleachers roared for an unorthodox mid-inning curtain call, but Mitchell was happy to acknowledge the fans' insatiable appetite for recognition with a wave of his cap. The fans realized that, win or lose, this likely would be the last time Mitchell, a first-round pick of the White Sox, would put on a Tigers uniform.
Significant credit for the first inning goes to LSU coach
"It was pretty obvious that Texas made up its mind that they weren't going to let [No. 3 batter]
It was a shrewd move by the career coach, whose father was a national junior college champion coach at Miami-Dade North, and who drew high praise from LSU's dean of baseball as the Tigers tied Texas for second all time with six College World Series championships (USC has 12).
"This is easily as good as any team I ever had," said legendary former coach
After stepping down as coach, Bertman became LSU's athletic director. A few years later, he hired Mainieri, who previously had excelled at Notre Dame and Air Force.
Mainieri successfully manipulated his rotation in Omaha so that one of his co-aces would be starting the deciding Game 3 on four days rest. But LSU's power-pitching sophomore
"I said to myself, Do something to spark this team," Mitchell recalled after the game. "Get on base and score a run."
He took five straight curveballs from Longhorns reliever
Mitchell will almost certainly sign with the White Sox this summer, bringing to an end a journey to the major leagues that began when he first caught the eye of a scout as a high school freshman. The scout visited Westgate High in New Iberia, La., to see some of his older teammates but was immediately impressed with the young outfielder. This spring
"He's already a major league hitter," the coach said of Mitchell, who batted .327 this season, with a .470 on-base percentage, .580 slugging, 11 home runs, 50 RBIs, 64 runs and 35 stolen bases.
That coach also noted, from playing the Tigers and watching three more of their games on tape, how serious of a competitor Mitchell seemed on the field. He never saw Mitchell smile.
But that was the attitude adopted by the whole team before Game 3. At 3:45 p.m., a little less than two and a half hours away from the first pitch, a few dozen fans roaming the concourse outside the main entrance to Rosenblatt Stadium were treated to a curious procession. While the Texas team was already working out on the field, the LSU bus -- a local rental, but appropriately purple nevertheless -- parked on the first-base side of the park, so the Tigers, already in full uniform, slowly marched over to the player entrance on the third-base side.
For the most part, it was a quiet walk, ignoring the casual transactions of the secondary ticket market (one man's t-shirt had "I Need Tickets" printed right on it), though a few fans' requests for high-fives were obliged and reliever
Inside the park, LSU was similarly motivated. Heck, reliever
"Everyone always says their goal is to win a national championship," Mitchell said, "but before the season we sat down, looked at our team and realistically said we have what it takes -- and more -- to win the national championship."
The bullpen, which had been a weak link earlier in LSU's season, was no such problem in the CWS final. The relievers threw five scoreless, no-hit to finish the Tigers' win in Game 1 and added 3 2/3 more shutout innings of one-hit ball to finish Game 3. Of course, the last two innings were pitched by the right arm of normal starter Coleman, but it was Jones' 1 2/3 innings that were more crucial, helping Ranaudo retire the side in the bottom of the sixth, keeping the Longhorns off the scorebard after LSU's big inning.
After UT's Nos. 3 and 4 hitters,
With the win Jones and Mitchell, a wide receiver, became the first two players to win a BCS football championship and a College World Series. His business complete, Mitchell was all smiles after the game.
"If there's a better way [to end a career]," he said, "write the story for me."