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LSU wins second CWS title in three years

Freshman Brett Laxton struck out 16 Saturday as LSU pounded Wichita State 8-0 to win the College World Series.

Laxton (12-1) pitched a three-hitter and didn't allow a runner past second base in leading the fifth-seeded Tigers (53-17-1) to their second championship in three years. LSU beat the Shockers 6-3 to win the title in 1991. It was the Southeastern Conference's third title in four years. Georgia won in 1990.

Laxton set a championship-game record for strikeouts. It was the first complete-game effort in the championship since 1961.

"Our greatest fears were realized," Wichita State coach Gene Stephenson said. "We let the game get out of hand from a pitching standpoint, and we did absolutely nothing offensively.

"We were looking for the fastball, getting it and could not hit it. He threw strikes and we didn't hit them."

Seventh-seeded Wichita State (58-17), in its fourth title game in four trips to Omaha, managed only a single in the third and two in the sixth, when Laxton responded by striking out the side. The Shockers' only title came in 1989.

"I had visualized myself throwing strikes, getting guys out and, in the end, having the team pile up on me on the mound," Laxton said. "And it came true."

In a CWS that featured 10 late-inning comeback victories in 14 games, LSU became the first team to score first and hold its lead. Second baseman Todd Walker, named the MVP, hit his third homer of the tournament and 22nd of the season with one on in the first. Walker, a sophomore, was 7-for-20 with three homers and 12 RBI in five games. LSU added three runs in the second, two in the third and one in the eighth.

LSU's title was the first for a team seeded other than fourth or seventh since the modified double-elimination format began in 1988.

LSU coach Skip Bertman has brought six teams to the CWS in his eight seasons. The Tigers came out of the losers' bracket to win the Southeastern Conference tournament and the South Regional. After defeating Long Beach and Texas A&M in its first two CWS games, LSU lost to Long Beach, then defeated the 49ers again before finishing with Saturday's victory.

"These guys are not nearly as talented as the 1991 team," Bertman said, "but these guys have great heart."