Tuesday, June 5, 1990
A pregame knock on the head Tuesday night didn't faze Louisiana State pitcher John O'Donoghue.
O'Donoghue, nearly knocked out when he fell in the dugout and hit his head, pitched an impressive complete game as the Tigers stayed alive in the College World Series with a 6-1 victory over The Citadel.
"Most of the game I was pretty dizzy," O'Donoghue said. "I was doing good just to stand on the mound and throw strikes."
O'Donoghue, 12-3, didn't throw many balls.
The 6-foot-6 left-hander from Elkton, Md., didn't issue a walk, struck out six and scattered eight hits to end The Citadel's magical season at 46-14.
"John O'Donoghue pitched magnificent baseball," LSU Coach Skip Bertman said.
He helped keep the Tigers, 54-18, in the running for their first CWS crown.
The win left second-seeded LSU and third-seeded Oklahoma State to decide the bracket two representative in Saturday's national championship game.
The Cowboys, 2-0 in the tournament, need just a win in Thursday's 6:40 p.m. game to reach the title game. LSU, 2-1, needs to beat OSU twice. A Tiger win Thursday would force a rematch Friday.
Tuesday's crowd of 14,614 at Rosenblatt Stadium didn't know anything about O'Donoghue's pregame fall. Reporters learned about it from Bertman in the postgame press conference.
"We're laughing about it now," Bertman said, "but it was very serious. He was very dizzy. We told the umps that we may have to change pitchers."
O'Donoghue said he doesn't remember much about the fall.
"I stood up and took a step," he said. "They have a low steal beam in the dugout. I hit my head and woke up on the floor."
The Tiger pitcher said he wasn't bothered by the blow.
"I don't think it was that much of a factor," he said. "I recovered from it. The trainer worked on it right from the beginning, gave me ice and smelling salts."
O'Donoghue, who said he has suffered six concussions in his life, didn't want to give up his starting assignment.
"It's special to me," he said. "My father pitched here in 1958 and he lost two games. It was nice to pitch off the mound he pitched off of. It meant something to me.
"And it feels real good to win for the team so we can keep going."
O'Donoghue's father John, not present at the series, finished with a 1-2 record pitching for Missouri in the 1958 CWS.
LSU hitters supported O'Donoghue with three runs in the fifth and three in the eighth to oust The Citadel, the crowd favorite that beat Miami twice in the Atlantic Regional to reach the series for the first time.
"We feel very fortunate to tiptoe past The Citadel," Bertman said, "which evidently after tonight is America's team - touched by Abner Doubleday himself. They're just a Field of Dreams.
"It's just a wonderful thing for the World Series and the successful season couldn't have happened to a nicer guy than Chal Port."
Port, The Citadel's veteran coach, said his team played with heart.
"I'm very proud of our boys," he said. "I thought we fought hard. We played about as well as we could. That's all I can ask of them.
"It's been a real pleasure to be here. It's been a dream come true for me."
The Citadel starter Billy Baker, 8-3, matched O'Donoghue's effectiveness early. He held the Tigers hitless through four innings and retired 10 in a row before Lyle Mouton reached on first baseman Bart Mays' fielding error to get LSU started in the fifth.
Tim Clark followed with a hit-and-run single and the Tigers scored three runs on Tookie Johnson's single, Scott Bethea's fielder's choice and John Tellechea's single.
Clark also contributed a two-run home run in the eighth - his 12th of the year and second of the series against The Citadel - as LSU added three insurance runs.
"We must be pitching Clark wrong," Port said. "He hit two towering shots off us."
LSU defeated the Bulldogs 8-2 in a first-round game Saturday.
The Citadel scored its only run in the seventh on an RBI single by Jason Rychlick, who went 3 for 3. Rychlick was one of the victims as O'Donoghue picked off base runners in the second inning and the third to negate the Bulldogs' first two hits.
"It was a great move," Rychlick said. "I thought he was balking. But I'm not the umpire. He has a great move and he got me."
LSU's Clark said the Tigers - held to two hits by Oklahoma State in a 7-1 loss Monday night - needed a spark when they entered the fifth hitless against The Citadel.
"That inning was big for us," he said, "because we had only two hits in our last 13 innings. Everybody was down because we weren't hitting the ball.
"We started piecing together a couple of hits here and there and things started coming together."
Record Still Possible CWS attendance through session No. 5 Tuesday night totaled 73,822 compared with 78,864 last year, a drop of 6.4 percent.
Jack Diesing Jr. president of the CWS Inc. said crowds for remaining sessions in the 15,000 range would break the series attendance record of 132,865 set last year if four more sessions are required.
"The crowds, " he said, "are a large part of what keeps the College World Series in Omaha. "
Dennis Poppe, NCAA director of championships, attributed the drop in CWS attendance after three sessions to the weather.
"The 15,000 who came out Sunday in Candlestick Park-type conditions, " he said, "are to be commended. "