Jones, Moore, Katz energize crowd, keep LSU alive
On the 16th anniversary of the most famous home run in LSU baseball history, visiting Stony Brook received a visit Friday from ghosts of postseasons past.
JaCoby Jones, Tyler Moore and Mason Katz slugged game-tying solo homers in three straight innings, sending Alex Box Stadium into a frenzy all three times and pushing Stony Brook from a near-victory in the opener of the Baton Rouge super regional to a fate still to be determined.
Heavy rain forced officials to suspend play with the Seawolves coming to bat tied 4-4 in the 12th inning. The game is scheduled to resume at 10:05 a.m. Saturday.
“I think this was a first for me,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “I can’t remember three consecutive innings with a home run like that.”
The Tigers nearly had another.
On the heels of Katz’s no-doubter to lead off the bottom of the 11th, cleanup hitter Raph Rhymes appeared briefly to have ended the game with a homer to left. But the ball hooked just foul, allowing Stony Brook to keep Game 1 in the balance for one more day.
Jones, Moore and Katz sat alongside Mainieri in the “postgame” news conference talking about their dramatic homers.
“I wish we had a fourth seat up here for Rhymes to be talking about his game-winning home run,” Mainieri said.
That would have been a moment even more reminiscent of the winner Warren Morris hit against Miami in the championship game of the 1996 College World Series, precisely 16 years earlier.
But considering the Tigers trailed 2-0 most of the day, they were happy to have earned themselves a mulligan with their where-did-that-come-from power surge late in the game.
LSU hit only one homer in its three games at the Baton Rouge Regional last weekend and entered the super regional with only 38 for the season.
Jones got it started as LSU’s leadoff hitter for the bottom of the ninth.
“I asked coach if he wanted me to take the first pitch or swing at it,” Jones recalled. “He said to hit it out.”
The at-bat lasted much longer than one pitch. It included a foul ball down the right field line that Sal Intagliata nearly corralled for the inning’s first out.
Moore experienced a similar break in the 10th when he lifted a 3-2 pitch down the left-field line. Steven Goldstein appeared to have a play on the ball, but lost his footing as he arrived at the pitcher’s mound in the visiting bullpen and overran the foul pop-up.
As for Katz, he hit a ball in the 11th that looked like it may hook foul.
“I don’t know how many of y’all are golf players,” Katz said, “but it had a great power fade.”
One more power fade would have sent Alex Box Stadium into jubilation once again. But the blast Rhymes hit hooked foul instead.
“If Rhymes’ ball had stayed fair, I can’t even imagine,” Mainieri said. “I’m sure they would have been talking about this game forever. They may still. We’ll see. But that would have been an amazing ending.”