OMAHA, Neb. - Blake Dean hit a three-run double off the left-field wall in the bottom of the ninth inning to keep LSU alive in the College World Series with a 6-5 victory over Rice on Tuesday.
Dean drove Cole St. Clair's 1-0 pitch on a line to the fence, and he was mobbed by teammates shortly after he arrived at second base. The celebration was the culmination of LSU's rally from a 5-0 deficit. The Tigers were two outs away from losing a sixth straight game in Omaha since winning the 2000 national title.
The Tigers had scored a run in the seventh and eighth innings to pull to 5-2 against St. Clair. In the ninth, Michael Hollander hit an RBI single before Jared Mitchell reached on an error to load the bases.
Dean then delivered the big hit.
LSU (49-18-1) plays Thursday against the loser of Tuesday night's Bracket 2 game between Fresno State and North Carolina.
Rice ends the season 47-15.
The Owls led 5-0 after Rick Hague's two-run single in the second, Jared Gayhart's RBI triple in the fifth, Aaron Luna's homer in the sixth and Diego Seastrunk's RBI single in the seventh.
At that point, it looked as if Rice was on its way to advancing and, along the way, restoring its reputation for tough pitching.
Two days after seven Rice pitchers were battered for four homers and a season-high 17 runs on Sunday, Rice starter Chris Kelley limited LSU to four hits in 52/3 shutout innings.
Though St. Clair never found his rhythm, he still looked good enough to finish off the Tigers.
He struck out national home run leader Matt Clark with two men on base to end the sixth inning.
The Tigers scored their first run when St. Clair was called for a balk in the seventh.
The second run came home in the eighth on Micah Gibbs' double into the right-field corner. Gibbs tried to score on DJ LeMahieu's two-out single to right. The throw from Chad Mozingo reached the plate just as LeMahieu arrived. Rice catcher Adam Zornes, who was blocking the plate, made the tag but dropped the ball. As LeMahieu struggled to climb over Zornes and touch the plate, Zornes tagged him again.
LSU's winning rally started with one out when Derek Helenihi singled and Sean Ochinko was hit by a pitch. Hollander hit his RBI single before Mitchell reached when Hague, the Rice shortstop, couldn't come up with a grounder.
The Tigers' fans in purple in gold chanted 'L-S-U, L-S-U' as Dean came to the plate. His double was his second of the day and the most important of his career.
SideBar: College World Series
· LSU 6, Rice 5, Rice eliminated
· Fresno State (43-29) vs. North Carolina (52-12), 7 p.m.
· Stanford (40-23-2) vs. Miami (53-10), 7 p.m. (loser eliminated)
· LSU (49-18-1) vs. Fresno State/UNC loser, 7 p.m. (loser eliminated)