LSU rallies to win Baton Rouge Regional title
BY LES EAST
June 08, 2012
LSU won the Baton Rouge Regional in much the way it won the Southeastern Conference regular-season title and put itself in position to host a regional and now a super regional.
A series of pitchers put the Tigers in position to win the game, an unlikely hero came through with a key hit, and it all added up to a one-run victory. This time it was Nick Rumbelow, Chris Cotton and Nick Goody pitching a combined 4.1 scoreless innings in relief of starter Ryan Eades, Alex Edward tying the score in the ninth inning with his fifth RBI of the season, and LSU defeating Oregon State 6-5 in 10 innings to improve to 16-8 in one-run games and finish a three-game weekend sweep Sunday night in Alex Box Stadium.
The top-seeded Tigers (46-16) defeated the second-seeded Beavers (40-20) for the second consecutive night to advance to a best-of-three super regional to be played at The Box beginning either Friday or Saturday against the winner of the Coral Gables (Fla.) Regional, which will be decided when Central Florida and Stony Brook play Monday night. The schedule for the super regional will be released early this week.
“This has been the M.O. of our team,” said Tigers coach Paul Mainieri, who is taking his team to a super regional for the third time in his six seasons. “We showed total grit and determination and a lot of will to win. It’s been a different hero every day.”
One of the biggest heroes was Edward, a junior outfielder from Parkview Baptist who was 1-for-10 in the regional before ripping a double into the gap in left-center to send home pinch runner Jared Foster with the tying run with one out in the ninth. Foster was running for Ty Ross, who opened the ninth with a first-pitch double to deep center.
“I had been struggling all weekend, and it hasn’t been the best year for me,” Edward said. “But it’s been a different player stepping up all year, and it was my turn. This is what you come to LSU for. There’s no question in my mind that the next person whose turn comes up will get the job done.”
The Tigers rallied against OSU reliever Scott Schultz, who had entered the game after the Tigers scored three runs against starter Taylor Starr in one-third of an inning and held them to one unearned run in 7.2 innings before the ninth.
After Edward tied the score, the Tigers still had to stop OSU, which had advanced to the final by beating Louisiana-Monroe 11-2 in an elimination game earlier in the day, from scoring in the bottom half.
Cotton (7-0) came on to start the ninth, replacing Rumbelow, who had allowed just a walk and struck out four in 2.1 innings. With one out, Michael Conforto, who was 6-for-14 in the regional, doubled over Foster’s head in deep center, but Cotton got a strikeout and fly out to send the game into extra innings.
LSU shortstop Austin Nola, who was named the regional’s Most Outstanding Player, led off the 10th with a walk against Dylan Davis (1-1) after falling behind 0-2.
“I knew going up to the plate in that situation I needed to get on base for my team,” Nola said. “I just protected the plate and was able to work a walk.”
JaCoby Jones failed to get down a sacrifice bunt, then lofted a long fly ball that dropped into fair territory in deep right for a double, sending Nola to third. Nola scored on a wild pitch, giving LSU a 6-5 lead.
“We had Nola 0-2 to start the inning, and he did a heck of a job walking,” Beavers coach Pat Casey said. “We had (Jones) 2-2, and he found (a hit) just inside the right-field line. We did everything we could do to win the game. We just didn’t finish it.”
Mason Katz and Raph Rhymes walked, loading the bases with none out, but LSU couldn’t add to the lead as Foster hit into a force-out at home, pinch hitter Jordy Snikeris popped to second, and Edward looked at strike three.
It didn’t matter though, because Goody was untouchable in the bottom half. He struck out Ryan Barnes and Kavin Keyes swinging and Ryan Gorton looking, using a total of 14 pitches one night after pitching a perfect ninth.
“Goody looked like he was throwing the ball 100 miles per hour in the 10th,” Mainieri said.
OSU scored its second and third runs on two-out hits against Eades, and it got to him again with two outs to break a 3-3 tie in the sixth. Ryan Gorton singled, John Tommasini walked and Eades hit Max Gordon with a pitch. Tyler Smith grounded a single through the middle to score two runs and put LSU behind for the first time in the regional. That finished Eades as Rumbelow relieved and struck out Conforto, starting a stint that gave the Tigers a chance to come back.
“It’s very exciting, but we know we have to take it one step at a time,” Nola said. “We have very solid ballclubs all around us in the postseason, and we have to play our best every game. We did it tonight, and now we just have to continue on.”