- Last Updated: 9:35 AM, June 11, 2012
- Posted: 1:49 AM, June 11, 2012
BATON ROUGE, La. — The tale of the tape — emblazoned on the purple LSU billboard behind the right-field bleachers of Alex Box Stadium — should have been downright scary for Stony Brook.
There for all to see were the years of LSU’s six NCAA baseball championships (1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000 and 2009), surrounded by a well-lubricated sea of purple-and-gold fans. As if those power numbers weren’t enough, the perennial SEC powerhouse boasted the highest all-time winning percentage in NCAA tournament history (.728).
LSU had it all going into the championship game of the Baton Rouge Super Regionals — except for one thing.
Stony Brook — the mighty Seawolves (52-13) — had the better team, and they dismantled LSU 7-2 to win the best-of-three super regionals and advance to the school’s first-ever College World Series.
Look out, Omaha. Get ready, UCLA.
“I would not be one bit surprised if Stony Brook went on to win the national championship,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri, whose anemic Tigers offense was shackled to just 15 hits (.153 average) over three games, including last night’s three-hit, complete-game gem by Frankie Vanderka, a sophomore right-hander from MacArthur High School in Levittown. “I can’t imagine anyone in the country being better than that team.”
“I’m a little overwhelmed, quite frankly, because I think I do know the magnitude of this,” said Stony Brook coach Matt Senk. “To make it to Omaha is every college baseball team’s dream, every college baseball coach’s dream. It’s just unbelievable.”
The Seawolves dominated the SEC champions (47-18) in every facet of the game. While Vanderka was painting the corners with his array of two-seam fastballs, cutters, curves, changeups and side-armed fastballs, LSU batters were lunging and failing to make contact.
Then, when the Tigers did make solid contact, center fielder Travis Jankowski, a jackrabbit in the outfield, was chasing down anything that had any kind of trajectory. Jankowski also went 4-for-6 at the plate and scored two runs, but his defensive range was the talk of Baton Rouge. He was selected 44th overall in the major league draft by the Padres.
“Their defense was phenomenal,” said LSU center fielder Mason Katz, whose solo homer in the first inning was one of the few mistakes Vanderka made. “It felt like they were playing with five outfielders. Jankowski covers both gaps. He can cover gap to gap and can run anything down.”
Amazing doesn’t capture the seismic import of the Stony Brook victory. The champions of the American East Conference played before 10,620 fans last night at Alex Box. In 28 home games at Joe Nathan Field in Stony Brook, they had played before a combined total of 6,228 — about 300 souls per game.
Vanderka, whose father, Frank, once pitched in the Yankees farm system, said he was trying to wrap his brain about what this meant.
”The only thing I know is that we’re trending on Twitter,” Vanderka said, laughing.
Stony Brook pounded six Tigers pitchers for 15 hits. The Seawolves chased LSU starter Ryan Eades with four consecutive hits — an RBI double by Maxx Tissenbaum that plated Jankowski, who had a leadoff double, and singles by Kevin Krause, Cole Peragine and Steve Goldstein — in a three-run third inning that put Stony Brook up 4-1.
The Seawolves extended their lead to 6-1 with a two-run double by Tissenbaum in the fourth, which came right after it appeared he was hit on the arm by Broussard only to be ruled a foul tip. Tissenbaum drilled a liner to center field that scooted past Katz, scoring Pat Cantwell and William Carmona. By then, the rout was on.
Incredibly, the notoriously parochial LSU fans gave the Stony Brook players high fives as they circled the stadium following their victory.
“These [LSU] fans were some of the best fans around,” Vanderka said. “They told us, ‘Go win it. We’re going to be there cheering you on.’ ”
Senk said he likes his Cinderella team’s chances.
“Watch out for Stony Brook,” he said.
UCLA, consider yourself forewarned.Follow @NYPostsports