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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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LSU changes mojo by putting on gold, shuffling batting order

LSU changes mojo by putting on gold, shuffling batting order

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — LSU was so disappointed in its performance in its College World Series opener Sunday that change was in order for Tuesday's game against Cal State Fullerton.

The Tigers came out in gold jerseys — their usual uniform rotation would have had them wearing purple tops Tuesday and gold Thursday — and even coach Paul Mainieri put one on. He typically wears a wind shirt in the dugout.

Oh, and Alex Bregman batted leadoff for the first time this season after having been in the No. 3 hole every game since Feb. 20.

By late afternoon, Alex Lange had pitched his second complete game in three starts in a 5-3 win over the Titans and Bregman had matched his career high with four hits. And Mainieri was relieved that LSU had won for the first time in TD Ameritrade Park after two tries in 2013 and two more this year.

"We did change the jersey for mojo," he said. "And I did wear a jersey at the request of the players. I hadn't worn a jersey in a while. They've been trying to get me to wear a jersey all year. So desperate times call for desperate measures."

The Tigers committed four errors in their 10-3 loss to TCU on Sunday, and Mainieri called it the worst performance of the year.

LSU, which batted .320 in the regular season, came into the Fullerton game at .256 in six NCAA Tournament games. Mainieri said he wanted more production from the top of the order after Mark Laird and Jake Fraley, who had been batting 1-2, were a combined 5 for 22 the previous three games.

Mainieri said he mentioned that to Bregman at Monday's practice.

"Alex was like, 'I'd like to lead off,' " Mainieri said. "I said that's what I was hoping you would say. But I really didn't want to move him out of the 3-hole because he's been there all year, and he's our dude. He was excited about it, and I thought, OK, that's what I want to do."

Bregman, who was 2 for 4 against TCU on Sunday after going 1 for 16 in his first five NCAA Tournament games, led off innings the first three times he came to bat against Fullerton and singled four straight times before dribbling out to the pitcher.

"I didn't necessarily expect him to get four hits, but I thought he would make the pitcher work," Mainieri said. "As it turns out, he had a big day."
SLAIN OFFICER HONORED: Virginia is honoring slain Omaha police officer Kerrie Orozco, hanging in the dugout a T-shirt designed in her memory and displaying a specially made bat with her name and unit engraved on it.
Orozco, a member of the police department's gang unit for about three years, was fatally shot May 20 while trying to apprehend a fugitive. One of Orozco's colleagues, Lt. Ken Kanger, was stationed in the Virginia dugout at last year's CWS and became friends with players, coaches and staff.
The equipment staff had the wooden bat made, and the players signed it. The bat will be sold after the CWS, with proceeds going to her family.
"What an unbelievable gesture! For Kerrie's benefit! Go Hoos!" Kanger tweeted.
STRIKE UP THE BAND: The old ballpark organ will have some competition Friday and during next week's best-of-three finals. The basketball pep band from Southeast High School in Lincoln will play the participating teams' fight songs and some baseball-themed ditties from the seats in center field.
"We're going to inject a little more of a collegiate feel in the College World Series this year," NCAA director of championships and alliances Damani Leech said. "That'll be a great fan enhancement for those who are in the stadium."

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