COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Severe weather continued to wreak havoc on the LSU baseball team’s series against Texas A&M at Blue Bell Park.
Less than 24 hours after the Aggies’ series-opening 2-1 win was delayed three times and dragged into Friday morning, more severe weather Friday night caused the suspension of a game the Tigers were leading 7-2 after six innings.
That game is scheduled to resume at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and will be completed as a nine-inning game. The series finale, which will be televised on ESPN, will start at noon as scheduled but will be reduced to a seven-inning game regardless of the status of the suspended game.
If the suspended game is in the ninth inning by 11 a.m., it will be completed before the final game begins. If it has not reached the ninth inning by 11, it will be suspended again and resume after the noon game is completed, per Southeastern Conference and NCAA rules.
Tigers coach Paul Mainieri said he wanted to resume the game at 9:30 a.m., and Aggies coach Rob Childress wanted to start it after the noon game.
“I thought that would have been very awkward,” Mainieri said of the later resumption.
Mainieri said the chief of the umpire crew checked with the SEC office and was told that according to NCAA rules “we are obligated to try and finish this game prior to the start of a new one.”
SEC rules call for the second game on a getaway day to be a seven-inning game.
The umpires stopped the game at 8:32 p.m. Friday and ordered the tarp be placed on the field even though there were no weather issues at the park at the time. The stoppage was prompted by an approaching storm that featured severe lightning and rain. The delay lasted until shortly after 11. By SEC rules, the game would have had to resume by midnight Friday or carry over to Saturday.
It didn’t start raining until about 45 minutes after the stoppage, but lightning could be seen in the distance and moved closer to the stadium before the rain arrived.
The severe weather came after the Aggies won the series opener Thursday in a game that was delayed for nearly two hours at the start, stopped twice more briefly after it began and ended after 12:30 a.m. Friday.
The stoppage almost certainly means LSU right-hander Aaron Nola’s streak of consecutive nine-inning complete games will end at four, though he would be credited with a seven-inning complete game if the game doesn’t resume.
Though the Tigers didn’t have an outcome Friday, they did see their magic number for clinching the SEC West Division championship reduced to two when Tennessee defeated Arkansas 8-3. Any combination of LSU wins and Arkansas losses totaling two would make it impossible for the Razorbacks to catch the Tigers. Arkansas hosts Tennessee on Saturday and Sunday.
The stoppage of Friday’s game came just after A&M scored two runs against Nola in the sixth. Krey Bratsen and Jace Statum began the inning with consecutive singles. Mikey Reynolds hit a grounder to third baseman Christian Ibarra, who stepped on third for a force but threw the ball wildly to first for a two-base error.
Blake Allemand followed with a two-run single. Nola got another fielder’s choice before yielding a single and getting a pop-up. Then the umpires called for the tarp.
Before the severe weather, the story was how quickly the LSU hitters straightened themselves out after a poor performance in Thursday’s loss. After getting just five hits Thursday, the Tigers surpassed that total in less than two innings Friday.
Sean McMullen had four hits and drove in three runs, and JaCoby Jones celebrated his 21st birthday with two hits and an RBI.
The Tigers swung the bats much better from the start. They got two singles in the first, though they didn’t score, then broke through in the second.
Raph Rhymes, back in his normal No. 5 spot in the batting order after batting second Thursday, led off with a single, and Ibarra followed by singling him to second.
Ty Ross sacrificed the runners over for Jones, whom the LSU fans serenaded with “Happy Birthday to You” before Jones ripped a single to right for a 1-0 lead. The lead grew to 2-0 when Andrew Stevenson squeezed home Ibarra.
McMullen doubled home Jones for a 3-0 lead, and right-hander Jason Freeman relieved freshman lefty Matt Kemp, who was a late replacement for righty Parker Ray as the Aggies’ starting pitcher. Ray is scheduled to start Saturday.
The Tigers put together another three-run rally with two outs in the fourth. Jones singled, Stevenson walked and McMullen singled home Jones. Jared Foster singled home Stevenson and, after a walk to Alex Bregman, a passed ball sent McMullen home with the sixth run.
In the sixth, Stevenson singled with one out, and McMullen doubled him home.
First baseman Mason Katz played with bruised fingers on his left hand and a wrap around his left elbow. He was hit by separate pitches Thursday; neither injury was considered serious.
Hitting coach Javi Sanchez wasn’t at the game because he was scouting the high school baseball playoffs back in Louisiana. Volunteer assistant Will Davis assumed his duties.
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