Tigers advance to Super Regional
BATON ROUGE — The LSU baseball team secured its place in the NCAA Super Regionals at Alex Box Stadium by scoring runs in the ninth and 10th innings to complete a 6-5 comeback against Oregon State on Sunday.
LSU (46-16), the region’s top seed, advanced to the best-of-three series and will face the winner of Monday’s 6 p.m. matchup between Central Florida and Stony Brook at the Coral Gables, Fla., Regional.
The Tigers, who have never failed to advance after winning the first two games of a regional, trailed 5-3 through six innings before finally scraping across an unearned run in the seventh against Beavers reliever Scott Schultz.
Schultz handcuffed LSU for 82/3 innings after entering in the first inning. He allowed only three runs on three hits in relief of starter Taylor Starr, who lasted only 1/3 of an inning after giving up three early runs.
Down 5-4 in the top of the ninth, LSU catcher Ty Ross doubled and Alex Edward hit another double to the same spot in left-center field to tie the game. In the bottom half, LSU lefty Chris Cotton (7-0) fought past a one-out double to force extra innings.
The Tigers got the game-winning run in the top of the 10th when Austin Nola — the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player — scored on a wild pitch by Dylan Davis (1-1). Nola had reached on the first of three walks in the 10th, advanced to third on a double by JaCoby Jones and scored on a wild pitch.
Though LSU left the bases loaded in the 10th, Nick Goody struck out the side to earn his 11th save and complete the perfect start to NCAA postseason play by the Tigers.
Oregon State’s season came to an end at 40-20 overall.
“Obviously, it was a tremendous victory for our team,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said in a university news release. “It was truly a tremendous victory. This was a total team victory. It was tough. It was a grind out there; it really was. (LSU starting pitcher) Ryan (Eades) was giving it everything he had. We had a great lead there in the first inning, with the way we started the game with Raph’s (Rhymes) home run.”
To begin the game, Oregon State starter Taylor Starr walked Nola, who moved to second on a wild pitch and third on a single by Jones. Mason Katz’ single to right field scored Nola, and Rhymes launched his fourth home run of the season into the left field bleachers for a 3-0 lead.
In sending Starr to the dugout early, the Tigers got all they could handle with Schultz. The right hander retired 15 of the first 18 batters he faced, as LSU managed base runners with two errors and a single by Rhymes that was erased with a double play.
Oregon State began to battle back against Eades in the bottom half of the first, as Tyler Smith singled to center field and ran to third when LSU center fielder Arby Fields overran the ball. Smith scored on a sacrifice fly by Michael Conforto to cut the deficit to 3-1.
The Beavers used Ryan Barnes’ first double of the night and a two-out RBI single by Ryan Gorton to get within a run, 3-2, in the second.
The game was tied at 3 by Oregon State in the fourth when Barnes hit his second double of the game and scored on a two-out single to center by John Tommasini.
The Beavers went ahead for the first time in the sixth after Eades got the first two outs. Eades loaded the bases when Gorton singled to center, Tommasini walked and Max Gordon was hit by a pitch. A two-RBI single by Smith drove Eades from the game with LSU now trailing 5-3.
LSU’s Nick Rumbelow entered in relief of Eades and ended the threat with a strikeout.
“Ryan was competing really hard, but he just couldn’t put them away with two outs,” Mainieri said. “They came through with those hits, and suddenly we’re down. I thought (Oregon State head coach) Pat (Casey) made a tremendous move going to his closer, Schultz, right away. That kid just shut us down. He totally had us baffled there for several innings, but our kids never got discouraged. We had some tough at bats, but the kids just kept battling. They kept battling all the way through.
“I thought Nick Rumbelow was very key to the game, for him to come in and stem the tide there for us. I almost wish I had brought him in a batter earlier now. (Chris) Cotton gave us a great inning. What Nick Goody did, I tell you, that’s true closing. To close a championship with a one-run lead and throw the ball the way he did. That’s why you have to stick with people that have that kind of talent.”
In 52/3 innings of work, Eades surrendered five runs (four earned) on nine hits. He walked one and struck out five.
LSU scored an unearned run in the top of the seventh, as former Morgan City standout Grant Dozar was hit by a pitch and both Edward and Tyler Hanover reached on errors by third baseman Ryan Dunn. The latter allowed Dozar to cut the Beavers’ advantage to 5-4.
In the top of the ninth, a pair of doubles by Ross and Edward went to the gap in left-center to tie the game at 5. However, the Tigers couldn’t push across the go-ahead run when Hanover struck out and pinch hitter Tyler Moore grounded out.
Oregon State, the tournament’s second seed, advanced to Sunday night’s regional final against LSU after it defeated the tournament’s fourth seed, the University of Louisiana at Monroe, 11-2, in an elimination game earlier in the day.
LSU 7, Oregon State 1
LSU advanced to the regional final after defeating Oregon State, 7-1, Saturday in front of the largest crowd in LSU baseball history.
LSU sophomore right hander Kevin Gausman got an early lead and guided the Tigers to the win.
Saturday’s attendance of 10,367 was the largest in LSU baseball history, while the paid crowd (11,535) was the largest in postseason history. The day’s records shattered those set just 24 hours before when LSU had a paid attendance of 10,989 and actual attendance of 9,902 in its opening round win against ULM.
“It was such a good team victory,” Mainieri said of Saturday’s win in a university news release. “It was sort of a weird game; the tempo of the game was very slow. They laid off a lot of (Gausman’s) pitches, but we swung at a lot of bad pitches. We kind of grinded our way through tonight and got ourselves a victory. We’re going to put it in our back pocket and move on to tomorrow.”
Gausman (11-1), making his first career NCAA start, gave up seven hits and three walks but held Oregon State to 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. While Gausman threw 129 pitches, the Beavers stranded nine runners and scored their lone run with three-straight two-out singles in the top of the third inning.
“I’ve had Kevin now for almost two full years, and nothing the kid does amazes me anymore,” Mainieri said. “He has gotten better every week. Today, maybe, he wasn’t as sharp as he’s been in previous weeks. He just showed another side of himself, how he could just battle through not being as fine as he normally is. A kid with lesser mental toughness would have probably started to pout and feel sorry for himself and let things get out of control. He just keeps battling right through it.
“He didn’t have a 1-2-3 inning until about the sixth inning. It was a struggle for him, but he just kept fighting and fighting. I thought his last couple of innings were his best innings of the game.”
Nick Goody pitched a perfect ninth for LSU.
Oregon State starter Dan Child (6-4) took the loss after allowing five runs on seven hits with two walks and a strikeout in 51/3 innings of work. Three Beavers relievers combined to keep the Tigers hitless until an A. Nola RBI triple in the eighth.
The Tigers advanced to Saturday’s game after defeating ULM on Friday night.
LSU 4, ULM 1
Starting pitcher Aaron Nola (7-4) limited Louisiana-Monroe to one run on four hits to lead LSU into the winner’s bracket with a 4-1 victory Friday night.
LSU scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to break a 1-1 tie and secure the victory for Nola.
The Baton Rouge native had a career-high 10 strikeouts while matching his longest outing. He threw 118 pitches, 83 for strikes.
LSU third baseman Tyler Hanover drove in the game-winning runs with a two-RBI single to center field that scored Ty Ross and Alex Edward in the seventh. Aaron’s brother, Austin Nola — the Tigers senior shortstop — was 2-for-3 with two RBIs.