COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Nothing has gone according to plan in the LSU-Texas A&M baseball series and the resumption of game 2 Saturday morning was no exception.
The Tigers held a 7-2 lead when the game was suspended after six innings due to severe weather Friday night. LSU coach Paul Mainieri planned to get two innings out of reliever Joey Bourgeois and finish off a victory without having to use closer Chris Cotton so Cotton would be fresh for the seven-inning series finale at noon.
Things didn't happen the Mainieri mapped them out, but they worked out fine for the Tigers.
Bourgeois gave up two runs and had two runners on base and the tying run at the plate when he gave way to Nick Rumbelow with one out in the eighth. But Rumbelow got a double play to end the eighth and Cotton pitched a perfect ninth for his 11th save.
"It got a little bit hairy there and didn't go quite the way we were hoping it would go," Mainieri said. "We hoped Joey could give us two clean innings, and obviously it didn't go exactly as we had hoped. But Rumbelow came in and got the big double play on the kid that had hit the home run earlier today (Daniel Mengden). He was the tying run at the plate so that was obviously a huge out.
"Cotton came in and just pitched tremendous and showed great poise in the ninth inning and did what he needed to do for us."
Aaron Nola (10-0) got the victory Saturday even though his work was done Friday night when he held the Aggies to six hits and two runs in six innings. It was the first time in five starts that Nola didn't throw a complete game.
"Aaron was great," Mainieri said, adding that he was going to take Nola out even if the weather hadn't intervened. "He was pretty exhausted after the sixth inning. He earned that win there's no doubt about it."
The victory put LSU, 44-7 and 20-6 in the Southeastern Conference, in position to clinch its second consecutive SEC West Division title with a victory in the series finale. The Tigers have won one more league game than they did last season when they were overall champions. A&M is 27-23 and 11-14.
"You start the season and the first thing you think of is you want to get to 15 wins because no team has ever won 15 and not made the SEC Tournament," Mainieri said. "Then when you get to 15 you're thinking 20.
"If we can somehow pull off a win in this one it would accomplish a lot of things - an SEC West title, 45 wins in the regular season, which would tie the all-time record at LSU for the regular season in the-56 game era (set in 1997), but it would also put us in position to use this next week to gerrymander our personnel and get us ready for the postseason and put us in the best possible position."
The Tigers return to Alex Box Stadium to play the University of New Orleans on Tuesday and a series against Ole Miss on Thursday through Saturday.
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