All American Game : : Story
Monday, July 18, 2011

Gausman, Lorenzen shine for TUSA

Patrick Ebert        

OMAHA, Neb. – Four days removed from Independence Day, the Collegiate National Team traveled to Omaha to play Team Japan in the new home of the College World Series, TD Ameritrade Park.

Fans were treated to a pair of games between these t
wo teams. In addition to the regularly scheduled night-cap, game four of the five-game series, which was rained out two days prior in North Carolina, was also completed. After taking the first three games of the series, the two last games ended in a 1-1 tie after 10 innings and a 6-2 victory by Team Japan.

It's just an unbelievable honor,” Kevin Gausman said of the experience. “When they play the National Anthem and you're wearing 'USA' across your chest, it can get pretty emotional. You're representing this whole country. It's our pastime and that's something we should never forget.”

Coming off of very successful freshman seasons for LSU and Cal State Ful
lerton respectively prior to joining the Collegiate National Team in North Carolina, both Gausman and his Collegiate National teammate Michael Lorenzen also played together as part of the Aflac All-American Classic in 2009. While each of them were also premium picks in the 2010 draft (Gausman was a sixth-round pick of the Dodgers and Lorenzen was taken one round later by the Rays), the allure to honor their college commitments was too great to overcome.

Due to their already impressive resumes, it wasn't a surprise that both enjoyed a very successful summer while representing their country.

Gausman leads young staff

LSU entered
the 2011 season less than two years removed from a College World Series championship, although without three of the pitching stalwarts that helped get them there. Louis Coleman, Anthony Ranaudo and Austin Ross had all moved onto professional baseball since winning the CWS, as the Tigers turned to a pair of promising freshman to anchor the weekend rotation.

In doing so, Gausman and Kurt McCune led the staff in innings, both enjoying success while throwing nearly 90 frames each. It was no faul
t of this young duo that the Tigers failed to make it to the SEC Championship, much less Regional action. With the amount of young talent the program boasts, that early experience could be key for LSU making a quick turnaround.

I think it helps prepare you for what's going on later in your career,” Gausman said of his experience being part of the 2009 Aflac All-American Classic and how that relates to his current role. “Looking back, that's something I'll never forget.

I played with such great players. Jameson Taillon and (Bryce) Harper were in that game. Those guys are so good, and they decided to take the route to proceed to pro ball out of high school. I really wasn't ready for that, so I went to college. LSU is a huge environment, so getting to come here and play in front of these fans has just been great. I've made every team that I've wanted to make, and I've done everything I've strived to do. I'm just hoping I can keep doing that by working hard and staying motivated.”

Gausman's 5-6 record during his freshman season doesn't speak to the success he enjoyed early in his college career
, but his 3.51 ERA does. He led the Tigers with 86 strikeouts, and combined polish with power by walking only 23 batters in his 89 innings of work while limiting opposing hitters to a .215 batting average.

His stuff matches his success. Topping out at 94 at both the Aflac All-American Classic and the Perfect Game National Showcase during the summer of 2009, Gausman has flirted with triple digits since. With a projectable, 6-foot-4, 185-pound frame, that spike in velocity was somewhat expected.

After a long season, he made only two star
ts for Team USA, one of them coming against Team Japan earlier in the week. In that contest, Gausman went 5.2 innings, allowing only three hits and one run while striking out seven.

They're really good,” Gausman said of the Japanese team. “We did win the series, but every single game was close. There were some big innings that we had that seemed to put them away, but they always came back. They had heart, and they never laid down and I think that shows what kind of character they have. They're the best in Japan and we're the best the U.S., so you expect a matchup like that.”

Being able to play in TD Ameritrade Park certainly was added to his most memorable experiences.

This place is awesome,” Gausman continued. “I definitely want to be back here and I want to see this place when it's covered in purple in gold. I've been to the College World Series every year since I was five. When I was growing up my Dad always told me, “If you work hard enough you can be where these guys are.” Now that I've had this opportunity I'm really going to lead my team and try to get us here.”

The conclusion of the series with Team Japan was also the end of the Collegiate National Team's schedule. Some of the Team USA players were expected to join other summer collegiate teams, while others were expected to take advantage of the lack of international travel by heading home to get some much needed rest.

I'm going home, coach's orders,” Gausman said of his plans for the rest of the summer. “Time to rest up. I'm going to see my family. I haven't seen them since January, as that's something that has taken a little bit of a toll on me, as I'm a family-oriented kid. I'm going to take a week off, lay around and maybe sleep a couple of days. Then I'm going to start fishing, start lifting and probably throw a little bit, but rest more than anything.”

As a draft-eligible sophomore, look for big things from Gausman next spring as he prepares himself to lead LSU back to Omaha.

Lorenzen prepared to carry torch

For as good as Gausman's freshman season for LSU was, one could argue that Lorenzen's was that much better. Taking over centerfield for 2010 first-round pick Gary Brown, Lorenzen finished the season strong on his way to being named the Big West Freshman of the Year. He hit .342, which led the Titans, and was named to numerous freshmen all-american teams.

I grew a lot as a baseball player thanks to the coaching staff,” Lorenzen said of his progression during his freshman year. “(Former Assistant Coach Greg) Bergeron is one of the best coaches I've ever played for, I learned so much from that guy. The most I got out of this year was how much I grew as a person. Fullerton is a place you have to grow up really fast, and that's what I did. (The coaches) made sure of it, and they helped along the way.”

However, the season didn't start as well as the season ended for Lorenzen. He opened the year as a late inning replacement, serving mostly as a pinch hitter, runner or defensive substitute.

(Former Head Coach Dave) Serrano played it perfectly with me, and I need to thank him for that. He humbled me a little bit and sat me for something like 10 games and I had to fight my way back. I was able to come back, work my butt off and get back in a starting position.”

After falling to an upstart Illinois team in Regional play, coaches Dave Serrano and Greg Bergeron moved on to assume similar roles with the University of Tennessee's baseball program. Rick Vanderhook was hired to replace Serrano as the Titan's Head Coach, and in addition, several key members of the Titans were drafted in the early rounds and have already begun their professional careers.

I was absolutely heart-broken,” Lorenzen said of how the way last season ended, losing to Illinois in Fullerton. “We put so much work into (the season) but we came up short. I don't know what happened, it just wasn't our year.

I'm excited about the new leadership with Vanderhook coming in. I can't wait to get on the field with that guy. I don't like to promise anything, but I feel we'll be here the next two years. I think experiencing this now and knowing what it's like here on this field, knowing how it plays, it makes it that much bigger for me. I can't wait just to go back and share with (my teammates) this field and this experience and what we can experience.”

With that added experience, Lorenzen will be looked upon to serve as one of the leaders for the Titans moving forward.

The 6-foot-3, 180-pound outfielder is a true five-tool talent. He excelled as both a hitter and as a pitcher in high school, with an exciting blend of speed, arm strength and the ability to hit. As noted above, he led the Titans in hitting with a .342 average during his freshman year, and also stole 19 bases in 26 attempts. He carried that success into the summer, hitting .317 with the Collegiate National Team, proving that he makes things happen when he gets on base by finishing tied for the team lead in runs scored with 11.

Watching the players that are at or beyond your level and seeing what they do good and how they do good and just picking their brain,” Lorenzen said of the importance in playing in events such as the Aflac All-American Classic and for Team USA. “I roomed with Tyler Naquin (this summer) and we got really close. He knows a lot about hitting, and he, (Erich) Weiss and I talked so much, and I've learned so much from them just from an approach of how to hit. I got to see the right way to do things and the wrong way to do things to develop my ability as a baseball player.”

Playing against and traveling with Team Japan for five games also gave the Team USA players an opportunity to learn a different style and approach to the game.

Their pitchability is amazing,” Lorenzen said. “They have a great staff, and those kids are so awesome. We've gotten to know most of them, and they're just having a good time, and we just had a good time with them. It's more than just baseball right now.”

As for the rest of the summer, Lorenzen knows a lot of hard work will be needed to attain his lofty baseball aspirations. “I'm going home, but I will be working out. I have some goals that I need to accomplish for the next season. I know everyone says, 'bigger, faster, stronger,' but I need to get a lot bigger, faster and a lot stronger. So that's the goal for the rest of the summer.”

With everything both of these young men have accomplished, don't be surprised to
see Kevin Gausman and Michael Lorenzen back in Omaha, possibly playing against one another, with their sights set on a championship at the College World Series.

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