Tigers defeat Colonels

BATON ROUGE — Senior shortstop Austin Nola collected a career-best four hits and junior first baseman Mason Katz launched his 10th homer of the year as fourth-ranked LSU posted a 9-6 win over Nicholls State in Alex Box Stadium Tuesday night.

LSU, playing its final regular-season home game, improved to 40-13, while Nicholls State dropped to 25-26. The Tigers posted a 40-win regular season for the ninth time since 1992, the first year the NCAA instituted a 56-game regular-season schedule limit.

“It’s a significant accomplishment to win 40 games in the regular season,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said in a university news release, “and I’m very proud of our team for reaching that mark. I thought we swung the bats pretty well tonight, and we had some good efforts on the mound.”

Nola, making his final regular-season appearance in Alex Box Stadium, was 4-for-4 at the plate Tuesday night with a double and two runs scored. Katz was 2-for-5 with four RBIs, including a three-run blast in the sixth inning, and he scored two runs.

Nicholls got on the board first when Beau Faulk singled to shallow right-center driving in Blake Bergeron for a 1-0 Colonels’ lead.

The Colonels added another run for a 2-0 third-inning advantage when a run scored on a groundout to third base.

In the bottom of the frame, LSU erupted for five runs. A run-scoring double by Katz and RBI singles by designated hitter Jackson Slaid, left fielder Raph Rhymes and second baseman JaCoby Jones highlighted the rally.

LSU added three runs in the sixth off reliever Brad Delatte when Katz unloaded his 10th dinger of the year into the left-field seats.

The Tigers extended the lead to 9-2 in the eighth on an RBI single by senior third baseman Tyler Hanover.

The Colonels rallied for four runs in the ninth inning with two outs, but LSU closer Nick Goody recorded back-to-back strikeouts with runners at second and third to end the game.

LSU starter Kurt McCune (3-4) earned the win as he limited the Colonels to two runs on six hits in five innings with one walk and one strikeout.

Nicholls State starter Mike Wisecarver (1-7) was charged with the loss as he surrendered five runs — three earned — on seven hits in five innings with four walks and no strikeouts.

LSU concludes the regular season at South Carolina beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday. The Tigers are one game behind Kentucky and a half-game behind South Carolina in the overall Southeastern Conference standings. LSU already has clinched at least a tie for the SEC Western Division title, and the Tigers have locked up the No. 2 seed in next week’s SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala.

“Our players are very excited for the opportunity to go to Columbia and compete for the SEC championship,” Mainieri said. “We have so much respect for (South Carolina coach) Ray Tanner and his program, and it should be a series the entire nation will be watching.”

LSU (2009) and South Carolina (2010, 2011) have combined to win the last three College World Series titles. This week’s series marks the first meeting between the teams since the Tigers defeated the Gamecocks in the second round of the 2009 SEC Tournament.

The Colonels close out the regular season, with a berth in the Southland Conference Tournament on the line, when they travel to Nacogdoches, Texas, for a three-game conference series with Stephen F. Austin, beginning Thursday.

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