Anthony Ranaudo, Blake Dean pace LSU past Alabama
By Jim Kleinpeter, The Times Picayune
April 16, 2010, 11:35PM
BATON ROUGE -- LSU right-hander Anthony Ranaudo looked like his old self Friday night at Alex Box Stadium.
Blake DeanTigers first baseman Blake Dean jumped on that bandwagon, too.
Still rebounding from an elbow injury, Ranaudo pitched six innings in his longest outing of the season, and Dean broke a home run drought with two in LSU's 12-5 victory against Alabama.
LSU (28-6, 9-4 in SEC) stayed a game behind Arkansas and South Carolina in the SEC. Arkansas beat Georgia 10-2 and South Carolina beat Ole Miss 5-0.
Ranaudo (2-0) was back in his Friday night starter's role for only the third weekend since a stress reaction shelved him for five weeks. He allowed three earned runs and struck out eight while throwing a season-high 98 pitches.
"I thought it was a good outing, and I'm going to try to build off of it, " Ranaudo said. "I had some pretty good stuff. I had some bad breaks, but that's just part of the game. Next week I should be 100 percent ready to go with no pitch count. Just go out there and be me."
Ranaudo's outing might have been more impressive but for a disputed fair ball call that led to three Alabama runs in a four-run second inning. Ranaudo got stronger as the game went on, throwing 70 pitches in the first three innings and only 28 in the last three.
"(Ranaudo) is outstanding, and one of the best guys in the country, " Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard said. "He wasn't real sharp in the first two or three innings, and we had some opportunities there and did not take advantage. Once he settled, he was able to take them through the middle part of the game."
Left-handed reliever Jordan Rittiner allowed one run in the final three innings for his second save of the season.
Dean, who hadn't hit a home run in his previous 19 games and 80 at-bats, gave LSU the lead for good in the second inning with a line drive shot over the right field wall with two runners on. Dean added a solo blast to lead off the fourth inning, his seventh of the season and the 50th of his career. It moved him past Albert Belle and into a tie with Ryan Patterson for fifth place on LSU's all-time list.
"For a while I wasn't hitting it out, it wasn't going anywhere for me, " said Dean, who hit 37 homers in the past two seasons. "I feel like I'm the guy who has to hit home runs and produce runs for this team. It felt really good. Hopefully it will carry on for me, which it usually does when I start hitting home runs."
It was the second consecutive big offensive night for LSU, which had 10 runs and 16 hits against Tulane on Wednesday. Austin Nola also homered for LSU which has 12 hits.
The crowd got into the game early thanks to the fair-ball call. Nola's first homer of the season gave LSU a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but Ranaudo got into trouble in the second, loading the bases on a hit and two walks.
Alabama (22-13, 5-8) tied the score when Brock Bennett barely beat out Nola's throw on a high bouncer in the hole at shortstop, bring Taylor Dugas to the plate. Dugas, who played at Teurlings Catholic, fell behind 0-2 and then hit a bouncer down the third base line that appeared to cross behind the bag in foul territory.
Third base umpire Stephen Hagan made no call, but plate umpire David Savage made a belated "fair" call. Two runners scored on the double, and a third came in when LSU left fielder Johnny Dishon booted the ball near the Alabama bullpen mound. LSU Coach Paul Mainieri argued the call to no avail.
But LSU answered against Alabama starter Adam Morgan. Leon Landry led off with a single and scored after a balk, a ground out and a wild pitch. Grant Dozar walked and one out later scored on Mikie Mahtook's triple to right-center field.
Nola walked and then Dean hit the second pitch from Morgan into the right field seats.