FINAL: LSU 6, Oregon State 5 (10 innings)
Late-inning Alex Box Magic sends Tigers to the Super Regional
By RICHARD FISCHER
Tiger Rag Assistant Editor
When NCAA Regional baseball is played at the Box, there just seems to be magic in the air.
But whatever it was that pushed LSU to a 5-4 10-inning victory over Oregon State in the Baton Rouge Regional to send the Bayou Bengals to the Super Regional, Tiger faithful will take it.
With LSU trailing 4-3 entering the ninth, Ty Ross stepped up to the plate, and the Tigers hadn’t had a base knock since the third inning.
Things certainly looked bleak for the Bayou Bengals.
Then, Ross doubled to left-center to give LSU life. Alex Edward two-bagged the tying run home two batters later to tie the game at five and send Alex Box into a frenzy.
”I didn’t even know [Edward] could hit a ball that hard, quite frankly,” joked LSU head coach Paul Mainieri following the game. “Obviously, he was amped up.”
Step two came in the next frame when the Tigers took control and never looked back. Austin Nola took a leadoff walk. Then JaCoby Jones doubles down the right field line to advance Nola to third. One pitch later, Nola came home on a wild pitch to put LSU on top 6-5.
And then there was step three - yet another one-run save for closer Nick Goody in the bottom of the tenth. He struck out all three batters he faced to round out the game and the Baton Rouge Regional.
“It was a tremendous victory for our team. It was truely a tremendous victory,” said Mainieri. “This was a total team victory. It was tough. It was a grind out there.”
The victory put a bow on a less than stellar outing from LSU starter Ryan Eades.
Throughout the second half of the season, Eades’ right arm has been a hot topic among Tiger fans.
He struggled mightily for several consecutive starts on the back end of SEC play before finding consistency in the regular season finale versus South Carolina and the SEC Tournament versus Mississippi State.
Those recent outings were far from perfect, but they looked good in the box score.
Sunday, Eades reverted back to the form that made Tiger faithful worry, allowing five runners to score on nine hits in 5.2 innings of work. Four of those runs were earned.
“In three different innings they had two-out base hits to score runs, which is really frustrating to the team that’s giving up those hits,” Mainieri said. “Ryan was really competing hard, but he just couldn’t put them away with two outs.”
The Beavers put up one run in the first, second and third innings before plating two more in the fifth on a Tyler Smith two-RBI single with the bases loaded. Michael Conforto, Ryan Gorton and John Tommasini had RBIs for the Beavers in the earlier innings.
The rest of LSU’s pitchers, however, pitched beautifully.
Nick Rumbelow came on with two outs and the bases loaded in the sixth, and he struck out Conforto to quell the threat. He went on to pitch two more flawless frames with four total strikeouts. Chris Cotton gave up a double but got the other three batters out in the ninth, leading up to Goody’s perfect tenth.
“I thought Nick Rumbelow was a real key to the game to have Rumbelow come in to kind of stem the tide for us,” Mainieri said. “… Then Cotton gave us a great inning. Then what Nick Goody did, that’s true closing right there to close a championship with a one-run lead. That’s why you stick with people who have that kind of talent.”
They definitely made up for Eades’ performance. But as lackluster as Eades pitched today, he wasn’t even the worst starting pitcher of the game. Oregon State starter Taylor Starr got touched up for three runs, and the only out he recorded was a pickoff of JaCoby Jones at second base. Mason Katz drove Austin Nola home on a looping single to left. Then, Raph Rhymes crushed a two-run home run to put LSU on top 3-0 before the Beavers had a chance to catch their collective breath.
But they caught it all right - thanks to the right arm of Scott Schultz. Oregon State’s best reliever in the regular season with a sub-three ERA entering the contest shut down Tiger hitters for lion’s share of the ballgame. After Rhymes’ home run, Rhymes got LSU’s next base hit in the third inning. LSU didn’t get another hit until Ross’ double on the first pitch of the ninth as Schultz was just about lights out. He gave up just the one earned run in the ninth, striking out nine and allowing only three hits in 8.2 innings.
“I felt like I was in a groove most of the game, just throwing my pitches downhill, getting groundball outs,” Schultz said.
Amazingly, he was the second Beaver pitcher of the day to go 8.2 innings today as Ben Wetzler nearly pitched a complete game against ULM earlier. Schultz entered the game with 37 innings on the year, so he increased his innings pitched today by more than 25 percent.
LSU actually did push across an unearned run on Schultz in the seventh as Ryan Dunn just continued to wet the bed at third base. He committed his third and fourth errors of the game in the frame, allowing Grant Dozar to come around to score and cut the lead to one.
That run came back to haunt the Beavers as LSU executed its magic in the ninth and 10th innings.
The Tigers will await tomorrow’s UCF-Stony Brook contest in Coral Gables for their opponent in the Baton Rouge Super Regional next weekend.
LSU 6 runs, 7 hits, 1 error
OSU: 5 runs, 10 hits, 4 errors
Click the following links for LSU head coach Paul Mainieri, left fielder Raph Rhymes, shortstop Austin Nola and right fielder Alex Edward. PART 1, PART 2
CLICK HERE for Oregon State head coach Pat Casey, relief pitcher Scott Schultz and shortstop Tyler Smith.
Below is Richard Fischer’s game blog in chronological order.
Good afternoon and welcome again to Alex Box Stadium for what LSU hopes will be the final game of the Baton Rouge Regional this evening.
Spurred by a 4-1 win over ULM Friday and a 7-1 win over Oregon State last night, the Tigers advanced into the driver’s seat and now have two chances to win once.
First attempt is tonight at 6:30 p.m. versus the Beavers, who dispatched of the Warhawks earlier today 11-2.
Oregon State’s Friday night starter for the majority of this season, Ben Wetzler, threw 128 pitches earlier today and recorded 26 of the Beavers’ 27 outs, keeping their bullpen quite fresh entering the second game of the doubleheader. That was clutch pitching in a big spot from the lefty.
Because the Beavers have already thrown their three predominant regular-season weekend starters this weekend, Oregon State will go with righty Taylor Starr. Tonight will be his seventh start and 17th appearance this season. He’s pitched 45 innings in 2012 and has 26 strikeouts compared to 18 walks.
For the Tigers, sophomore Ryan Eades will be on the bump. After a pair of fine starts, he has really bounced back from his late-season struggles. He’s gone a combined 11.1 innings and allowed just one run in his last two starts, but he’s given up 11 hits in those innings. When Eades struggles, he falls behind in counts and can’t put away batters with two strikes. Oregon State put the take sign on with Kevin Gausman on the bump on a regular basis last night, so Eades will have to throw strikes early in counts to be successful. And if he can’t strike Beavers out, LSU’s defense will have to be on top of its game once again. They’ve been vacuums so far.
That’s especially true for Mason Katz, who made a couple tremendous scoops in last night’s ballgame. LSU head coach Paul Mainieri elected to keep him at first base versus the right-handed pitcher for his defense, and it paid off. The coach has done the same today against Starr, which leaves Alex Edward in right field and Tyler Moore on the bench.
Today is the hottest day as of yet in the Baton Rouge Regional, so it will be interesting to see how the heat affects the visitors from the Pacific Northwest in their second game of the day.
First pitch is at 6:37, and LSU will be the “road” team in today’s game. An LSU win, and the Tigers advance to the Supers. An Oregon State win, and we’ll play a winner-take-all rematch at 6:30 p.m. Monday.
1. Austin Nola SS .317
2. JaCoby Jones 2B .250
3. Mason Katz 1B .324
4. Raph Rhymes LF .451
5. Ty Ross C .310
6. Grant Dozar DH .273
7. Alex Edward RF .246
8. Tyler Hanover 3B .294
9. Arby Fields CF .209
SP- Ryan Eades (5-2, 3.36ERA, 85.2IP, 91H, 36R, 32ER, 26BB, 56K, OPP BA- .282)
Oregon State 40-19
1. Max Gordon CF .266
2. Tyler Smith SS .340
3. Michael Conforto LF .346
4. Danny Hayes DH .312
5. Ryan Dunn 3B .291
6. Ryan Barnes RF .281
7. Kavin Keyes 1B .233
8. Ryan Gorton C .298
9. John Tommasini 2B .216
SP- Taylor Starr RHP (5-2, 3.80ERA, 45IP, 48H, 48H, 20R, 19ER, 18BB, 26K, OPP BA- .284)
Top of the First:
Starr’s first pitch is a strike at 6:38… His next four deliveries are balls, and Nola takes a free pass… Nola takes second on a wild pitch. Starr’s command is pretty bad early on… Starr has to lay a 3-1 fastball in there, and Jones rips a single to right. Javi Sanchez holds Nola up at third… Oregon State already has action going in their pen. Wow… Starr fakes to third, and Jones takes off for second. He’s out at second for the first out of the game. Bad baserunning there… Katz loops a single to left to score Nola… Rhymes turns around a Starr offering for a monstrous two-run shot. No doubt about that one, and Starr’s day is done already. Scott Schultz in to pitch now… Ross smacks a one-hopper off the heel of Dunn’s glove at third. E-5… Dozar pops it up to left for out No. 2… Edward bounces it to short, and Smith goes the short way to retire the side. Oregon State up to bat, behind the eight ball already… Three runs. Three hits. One error. One left on base (1st base)… LSU 3, Oregon State 0
Bottom of the First:
Gordon cues it to third, where Hanover sticks with the hop and makes the throw in time. One out… Smith lines it to center, where Fields misplays the ball and lets it get behind him. Smith makes it to third on the play. He’s credited with a single and a two-base error to Fields… Conforto does his job and flies out to deep left center. Smith scores. Two gone… Hayes goes down on three straight, fanning on the third. The run is unearned for Eades. Good frame for Eades despite the run. Would like to see a little more control though… One run. One hit. One error. None left on base… LSU 3, Oregon State 1
Top of the Second:
Hanover grounds out to first. Nice snag by Keyes. One away… Fields tries to check his swing and excuse-me’s it to short for a quick out No. 2… Nola one-hops it to third, and Dunn boots it again. The normally reliable third sacker is not having a good weekend… Jones rolls up the middle. Smith flips it to second. Side retired… No runs. No hits. One error. One left on base (1st base)… LSU 3, Oregon State 1
Bottom of the Second:
Dunn rolls into the hole, where Nola backhands it and delivers a strong throw to first in plenty of time. That play shouldn’t look routine, and I feel like I’ve said that before. One out… Barnes doubles to the wall in left center… Keyes chases a nice offspeed pitch. Two gone… Barnes steals third without a throw. Eades wasn’t paying much attention to him… Gorton rolls it between Hanover and Nola for an RBI-single… Tommasini flies out to Fields… One run. Two hits. No errors. One left on base (1st base)… LSU 3, Oregon State 2
Top of the Third:
Katz fans on high heat. One down… Rhymes singles up the middle. As the ninth batter Schultz has faced, he’s the first to earn his way on base (previous eight guys made six outs and reached on two errors)… Ross hits into a 4-6-3 double play, and Schultz has been phenomenal… No runs. One hit. No errors. None left on base… LSU 3, Oregon State 2
Bottom of the Third:
Gordon pops it up to Jones moving into shallow right field. One down… Eades brushes Smith… Conforto whiffs. Tremendous slider from Eades. Two gone… Hayes singles to right, and Smith goes first to third… Dunn flies out to Edward by the foul line, and Eades finally puts up a zero, but he made it interesting… No runs. One hit. No errors. Two left on base (3rd base, 1st base)… LSU 3, Oregon State 2
Top of the Fourth:
Dozar foul tips it into the catcher’s mitt for the first out… Edward takes strike three on the outside black. Two gone… Hanover lines out to right center, and only one of 13 batters has earned his way on against Schultz. He’s been practically lights out… No runs. No hits. No errors. None left on base… LSU 3, Oregon State 2
Bottom of the Fourth:
Déjà-vu to lead off the fourth as Barnes doubles to the left-center wall again. He likes that spot out there… Keyes lines out to center, and Barnes tags for third. Productive out… Infield come in, and Gorton hits a swinging bunt to Hanover. He calmly charges, checks the runner and delivers to first. Two outs… Tommasini singles to right just out of the reach of Jones to score Barnes. Tie game… Gordon pops up in the infield, and Hanover calls everybody off. Brand new game after four… One run. Two hits. No errors. One left on base (1st base)… LSU 3, Oregon State 3
Top of the Fifth:
Fields flies out, and one center fielder flies out to another. One out… Nola takes strike three at the letters. Good pitch. Two away… Jones rolls out to third, and now only one of all 16 batters Schultz has faced has earned his way on. What a clutch performance when his team needed it most… No runs. No hits. No errors. None left on base… LSU 3, Oregon State 3
Bottom of the Fifth:
Eades gets Smith looking with the deuce. Awesome pitch. One away… Conforto crushes the ball to the right field wall to hard that he has to settle for a single. Give Edward credit for getting to it so quickly… Hayes grounds it to Katz right on first, so he steps on the bag for out No. 2. His throw to second hits a sliding Conforto in the back, so he’s safe… Dunn nubs it back to Eades, and Oregon State strands another… No runs. One hit. No errors. One left on base (2nd base)… LSU 3, Oregon State 3
Top of the Sixth:
Katz takes strike three, and he did not like that call. One away… Rhymes up. LSU’s last two hits have come off his bat. Not good. This time he flies out to right for out No. 2… Ross grounds out to first, and LSU’s offense has come to a screeching halt. Schultz has now retired 10 straight, getting 11 outs against those batters, and only one of the 19 he’s face has earned his way on… No runs. No hits. No errors. None left on base… LSU 3, Oregon State 3
Bottom of the Sixth:
Nick Rumbelow throwing in LSU’s pen as Eades begins the Oregon State sixth against Barnes. Eades pulls the string on him and he fans. No double to the left-center wall this time. One down… Keyes fouls off more than five pitches before hitting as hard as he possibly could but right at Edward. Two outs… Gorton singles to center, and Eades just can’t have a 1-2-3 inning… Tommasini walks on a 3-2 count. Gorton to second… After a visit from Alan Dunn, Eades hits Gordon on the knee to load the base. So much for even thinking about a 1-2-3 inning… Smith smacks it up the middle to score two. Godon to second, and Mainieri immediately makes the switch to Rumbelow… Rumbelow gets Conforto to swing and miss to limit any more damage… Two runs. Two hits. No errors. Two left on base (2nd base, 1st base)… Oregon State 5, LSU 3
Top of the Seventh:
Dozar takes a pitch on the elbow. No effort to get out of the way. There’s your “program guy” as Mainieri calls him. LSU will take anything to get them going against Schultz… Edward grounds it through the wickets of Dunn at third. That’s the hat trick for Dunn - three errors. Dozar to second… Tigers try to double hit and run. Hanover whiffs on a pitch he had no chance of hitting and Edward is meat at second. One out. Dozar did steal third on the play… Hanover crushes it to third, where guess what happens. Another error. Dozar scores on the play, and Hanover is safe at first. That’s four errors for Dunn tonight. FOUR… Fields grounds out to first for out No. 2. He gets Hanover to second on the play… Nola rolls out to short, but the Tigers get one without a hit… One run. No hits. Two errors. One left on base (2nd base)… Oregon State 5, LSU 4
Bottom of the Seventh:
Hayes watches a Rumbelow delivery. Two batters. Two K’s for Rumbelow. One down in the Oregon State seventh… Dunn walks… Barnes grounds to Hanover, who gets the out at second. Barnes beats the turn to first to keep the inning alive. Two outs… Keyes whiffs on a tremendous breaking ball from Rumbelow. He’s been great… No runs. No hits. No errors. One left on base (1st base)… Oregon State 5, LSU 4
Top of the Eighth:
Jones goes down on three straight, all looking. In no way does that sniff a good at-bat. One away… So does Katz. At least he swung, and Schulz is just dominant. Two down. Guess he doesn’t even want to give his infield a chance to mess up this inning… Rhymes one-hops first, and LSU is down to their final three outs… No runs. No hits. No errors. None left on base… Oregon State 5, LSU 4
Bottom of the Eighth:
Gorton tries to bunt his way on, and Rumbelow fields it and guns him out. One away… Tommasini takes strike three in the inside edge. Great pitch from Rumbelow, and there’s two gone… Back to the top, and Gordon pops out to Ross in foul ground. Don’t let LSU’s futility at the plate overshadow Rumbelow’s dominance to keep the Tigers close… No runs. No hits. No errors. None left on base… Oregon State 5, LSU 4
Top of the Ninth:
Ross doubles to straight away center on the first pitch of the ninth. That’s LSU’s first hit since the third inning… Jared Foster pinch runs for Ross… Dozar fans. Mainieri may be criticized for not bunting there, but hindsight is always 20-20… One down… Joey Matthews comes in for Gordon to play center field… Edward doubles to left center to score Foster and send Alex Box into a frenzy. Tie game… Hanover whiffs. Two outs… Tyler Moore pinch hits for Fields. You can expect him to take over behind the plate for LSU. But first, Moore bounces out to second, and we go to the bottom of the ninth… One run. Two hits. No errors. One left on base (2nd base). LSU 5, Oregon State 5
Bottom of the Ninth:
As expected, Foster (CF) and Moore (C) stay in the game. Chris Cotton the new LSU pitcher… Smith fans on a pitch in the dirt. Great breaking ball from Cotton. One out… Conforto doubles to center field, and Foster dives and slams his head against the wall even worse than Chris Sciambra did against Auburn earlier this season. You just hate to see that. And twice for one team in the same season. You can hear a pin drop at the Box, but after taking a few moments to gather himself, he stays in the contest. Plus, his throw to the cut-off man may have saved the game… Back to the action, and Ryan Dettman pinch runs for Conforto… Hayes fans on a 3-2 pitch for the second out… Dunn flies out to Edward moving toward the line. On to extras we go… No runs. One hit. No errors. One left on base (2nd base). LSU 5, Oregon State 5
Top of the Tenth:
Dettman stays in the game to play left. Dylan Davis comes on to pitch, ending Schultz’s masterful performance. He’s the second Beaver to go 8.2 innings today… Nola works a leadoff walk from Schultz… Nola doubles down the right field line. Would have been a triple, but Javi Sanchez held Nola up at third with no outs… Nola comes home on a wild pitch to give LSU the lead. Jones to third… Infield in, and Katz takes four straight balls. Runners at the cornerns… Pat Casey hands the ball to Tony Bryant… Infield still in, and Rhymes walks. The Beavers just can’t throw strikes. Bases loaded… Beavers go to Cole Brocker on the hill now… Infield still in, and Foster chops it to short. Smith gets out No. 1 at home, and the bases remain loaded. Righty-on-righty sub works for Oregon State… Lefty Matt Boyd in to pitch now, so Mainieri bats Jordy Snikeris instead of Dozar. Snikeris pops out to second. Two down… Edward takes strike three, and the Tigers can;t push another across. They’ll take a one-run lead into the bottom of the 10th… One run. One hit. No errors. Three left on base (bases loaded). LSU 6, Oregon State 5
Bottom of the Tenth:
Nick Goody comes in to try to close the game… Barnes fans on pitch at his eyes. One away… Keyes chases it in the dirt. Looked like a slider. Beautiful… Gorton takes strike three on the outer edge, and the Box explodes. LSU steals one and advances to the Super Regionals. We’ll see ya back at the Box next weekend… No runs. No hits. No errors. None left on base.
FINAL: LSU 6, Oregon State 5