OMAHA, Neb. – Left-handers Nate Ackenhausen and Riley Cooper combined to toss a nine-inning shutout with eight strikeouts Tuesday night, and LSU struck enough offensively to give the Tigers a 5-0 victory over Tennessee in a Men’s College World Series elimination game at Charles Schwab Field.
With the win, LSU improved to 50-16, and the Volunteers dropped to 44-22 as their season came to an end.
The Tigers return to action Wednesday night to take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons for the second time at the CWS. The contest is scheduled for a 6 p.m. CT first pitch on ESPN, and it can be heard on LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates.
“Great game, great night for our program,” said LSU coach Jay Johnson. “It starts and ends on the mound, winning baseball. And the two big left-handers here executed at a really, really high level.”
Ackenhausen (3-0) fired a season-high 6.0 innings in his best outing of the season and finished with another season-high seven strikeouts. Cooper came in for his second stint of relief at the CWS and was able to hold the Tennessee offense down and complete the shutout.
“Very proud of Nate,” Johnson said. “Maybe a surprise, from a name, from a starter but not a surprise performance. Every game he’s pitched in this year I think we’ve only lost one time when he’s pitched this entire year. I look for those things. He did a great job executing.
And Riley at this point is probably one of the most experienced pitchers in pitching in this ballpark and having success. He did his deal.”
The outing marked just the second time LSU has recorded a shutout in the CWS. The last time the Tigers tossed one was in the 1993 championship game against Wichita State when Brett Laxton set a title game record with 16 strikeouts.
Cooper earned his second save of the season, both in this College World Series. He fired 3.0 innings while allowing no runs on two hits with two strikeouts.
LSU got the scoring started in the top of the first on an RBI single from designated hitter Cade Beloso. The Tigers moved into scoring position with centerfielder Dylan Crews drawing a walk, and first baseman Tre’ Morgan reaching on a single he punched through the left side.
The Tigers weren’t able to add to their total until the top of the sixth, when Morgan scored on a throwing error. He began the inning with a double down the left-field line and scored when UT third baseman Zane Denton made on errant thrown after fielding second baseman Gavin Dugas’ bunt single.
LSU added to its lead in the top of the eighth on a wild pitch from Tennessee reliever Camden Sewell. Morgan and Dugas began the inning with back-to-back hit-by-pitches. Morgan got to third base on a fielder’s choice and later scored on the wild pitch.
Leftfielder Josh Pearson began the ninth inning with a walk and Crews launched his 18th dinger of the season to give LSU a 5-0 advantage.