We picked LSU baseball's all-time starting nine
LSU is on the short list of college baseball's most accomplished programs and you could make the argument that no school has performed better on the diamond in the last 30 years than the Tigers. All six of LSU's national championships – a number that is tied for the second-most all-time – have come since 1991, including a remarkable four-championships-in-seven-years stretch in the '90s.
We combed through the historical rosters and record books of some of college baseball's best programs and pieced together an all-time starting nine, plus a coach, for each school.
Here is LSU's all-time starting nine, based solely on players' statistics and achievements in college. Players' professional careers were not considered.
Pitcher – Ben McDonald (1987-89)
McDonald earned the Golden Spikes Award and National Player of the Year honors in 1989 after leading the Tigers to the College World Series. He is the school's record holder in career strikeouts (373) and he set SEC single-season records for strikeouts (202), innings pitched (152.1) and consecutive scoreless innings (44.2).
The 6-7 righty, who also played basketball for LSU, posted a 29-14 record in his college career with a 3.24 ERA, including 18 complete games and three shutouts.
McDonald, a two-time All-American and Olympic gold medalist, was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008 and had his No. 19 jersey retired by LSU a year later.
Catcher – Brad Cresse (1997-2000)
Cresse compiled as many individual and team accomplishments and honors as any player in LSU history.
As a senior, the three-time All-American hit .388 and led the country in home runs (30) and RBI (106) in 2000, which earned him the Johnny Bench Catcher of the Year award and Golden Spikes Award finalist honors. Cresse capped off his college career by recording the game-winning hit against Stanford in the College World Series to win LSU to the national championship, his second in Baton Rouge.
Cresse hit .324 with 78 home runs and 257 RBI in his four-year career. He has two of the top-five single-season RBI totals in LSU history.
First base – Eddy Furniss (1995-98)
Furniss was named SEC Player of the Year in 1996 and National Player of the Year two years later. His impressive college career culminated in his induction into the College Baseball Hall of Fame – one of just three former Tigers players to receive that honor. He helped LSU win back-to-back national championships in 1996 and 1997.
Furniss arrived in Baton Rouge shortly after Hall of Famer Todd Walker's college career ended and Furniss ultimately broke several of Walker's SEC records. The first baseman left LSU as the conference's leader in hits (352), doubles (87), home runs (80), RBI (308), and total bases (689). Furniss ranked in the top five in NCAA history in latter four categories when he finished his college career.
Second base – Todd Walker (1992-94)
Walker made an immediate impact as a freshman at LSU, earning 1992 National Freshman of the Year honors – the first time a Tigers player received the award. He was named SEC Player of the Year as a sophomore, when he led the Tigers to the national title and he was named the College World Series Most Outstanding Player.
Walker, a two-time First Team All-American who hit .396 in college, left Baton Rouge after three seasons as the SEC's all-time leader in hits (310), runs (234), RBI (246) and total bases (557).
He was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009 and readers of the Omaha World-Herald voted him on the College World Series All-Time Team. He is one of 12 former LSU student-athletes to have their jerseys retired at the school.
Shortstop – Brandon Larson (1997)
Larson only played for LSU for one season, in 1997, but he sure made the most of it. He helped the Tigers win the national championship, while hitting .381 with 40 home runs and 118 RBI.
Larson set the SEC record for both homers and RBI, and he became just the fourth player in NCAA history to hit at least 40 home runs in a season. He was named the shortstop for the 1997 College World Series All-Tournament Team and the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. He holds LSU records for hits, home runs and RBI in a season.
Third base – Nathan Dunn (1994-96)
Dunn is the only LSU third baseman to ever be named an All-American. He set the LSU single-season runs scored record with 95 in 1996, when the Tigers won the national championship, while recording 81 RBI (10th-best single-season total in LSU history) and 182 total bases (eighth-best).
Left field – Blake Dean (2007-10)
Man, deciding the all-time left fielder for LSU baseball was no easy task. It's tough to leave out Raph Rhymes, who led the NCAA with a .431 batting average in 2012 that is 21 points higher than the second-best individual average ever by a Tigers play. It's hard to look past a two-time national champion in Chad Cooley, who's in the top 10 in LSU history in career doubles, RBI, total bases and steals.
What about Wes Grisham, the two-time First Team All-SEC selection and 1990 All-American, who the SEC in hits, triples and RBI in 1989? Or Ryan Patterson, the 2005 First Team All-American who hit .353 in his LSU career with 50 homers and 174 RBI?
We tried to thread the needle with this selection, considering everything from an outstanding individual season (Dean was a First Team All-American and the SEC Tournament Outstanding Player in 2008), contributions to a historically great LSU team (Dean was a member of the Tigers' 2009 national championship team), and overall career numbers (Dean ranks top-five in LSU history in hits, doubles, home runs, runs, and RBI). He also spent time as the team's designated hitter and first baseman, but we're going with Dean for LSU's all-time left fielder.
Center field – Mikie Mahtook (2009-11)
Mahtook was a First Team All-American in 2011 after leading the SEC in batting average (.383) and steals (29) that season. As a freshman, the Lafayette, La., native was named the SEC Tournament MVP as a starter for a Tigers team that won the national championship. He recorded the game-winning single in the top of the 11th inning of Game 1 of the 2009 College World Series.
Mahtook's batting average jumped nearly 20 points from his freshman to his sophomore season, then almost 50 point from his sophomore to junior seasons. He finished his college career with a .344 batting average, 12 triples (second-most in LSU history), 35 home runs, 144 RBI, and 60 steals (sixth in LSU history).
Right field – Lyle Mouton (1990-91)
Like left field, this was a difficult decision. Albert Belle was named First Team All-SEC in 1987 after leading the conference with 21 home runs. He finished his career with 49 homers and 172 RBI. Harry Berrios was a two-time national champion in the 1990s, led LSU in steals twice, and was named the 1993 SEC Tournament Outstanding Player. Jon Zeringue was named SEC Co-Player of the Year and a First Team All-American in 2004 after hitting .384 with 12 home runs and 57 RBI.
However, Mouton was a central figure on LSU's first national championship team in 1991, as he hit three home runs that year in the College World Series to help the Tigers tie a CWS record for home runs. He was a two-time College World Series All-Tournament Team honoree. In his two-year LSU career, he hit .353 – the seventh-best career average in Tigers history – with 22 home runs and 103 RBI.
Coach – Skip Bertman (1984-2001)
LSU named its field after Bertman, the school's all-time winningest coach, and the National College Baseball Hall of Fame's coach of the year award is named after him as well. The former Tigers coach himself earned National Coach of the Year honors six times while leading LSU to five national championships and 11 College World Series appearances.
Bertman is one of three coaches to win five College World Series titles, which led to him being included in the inaugural class of the College Baseball Hall of Fame. LSU retired his No. 15 jersey in 2001.
Andy Wittry has written for SI.com, Sporting News, the Indianapolis Star, Louisville Courier-Journal and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
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