Just Enough: LSU GrindS Past Warhawks, 4-1

BATON ROUGE — It was starting to look all too familiar for LSU fans in the top of the seventh when freshman starter Aaron Nola allowed two consecutive singles and an intentional walk to load the bases with one out and the game tied at one.

But with one pitch and a double play, the momentum shifted in LSU’s direction and the bats finally woke up.

Nola pitched eight strong innings and the Tiger bats came to life with three runs in the seventh as LSU opened regional play with a 4-1 victory over Louisiana-Monroe before a postseason Alex Box Stadium attendance record of 9,902.

With the win, LSU (44-16) advanced to face Oregon St. at 7 pm on Saturday. ULM (31-29) fell into the loser’s bracket where it will face Belmont at 2 pm.

“That was Alex Box magic tonight,” said coach Paul Mainieri. “The crowd was so amped up”.

Nola (7-4) struck out 10 Warhawks and scattered four hits in a career-best eight innings. Chris Cotton pitched a perfect inning in the ninth to earn his first save of the season.

“That was an unbelievable game,” said Nola, who threw 118 pitches–83 for strikes. “The crowd was unbelievable; they were really alive, and that’s what made it fun.”

Ty Ross, Alex Edward and Tyler Hanover singled to make it 3-1 in the seventh. Austin Nola would cap the scoring with a run-scoring double later in the inning. It was Nola’s second hit and second RBI in support of his younger brother on the mound.

“I felt really good up there tonight,” said the older Nola. “You have to give it to our pitching and our defense; we really got behind them. You have to tip your hat to the ULM ball club; they played us hard and gave us a solid ball game all the way around.”

“That was just a tremendous postseason game,” said Mainieri. “I think our defense might have been the difference in the game.”

Indeed, while the Tiger bats were scuffling for most of the night, the defense was flawless, including diving catches from Nola at short and Arby Fields in center.

“What can I say about the infielders? They’re great,” said freshman Nola. “Words can’t describe how good they are. That was a game-changing performance.”

Randy Zeigler (5-7), who originally signed with LSU and was on the 2009 national title team before Tommy John surgery derailed his Tiger career, took the loss for the Warhawks despite standing toe-to-toe with Nola for six innings. His errant pick-off throw to first wasted what would have been an out and allowed LSU to score its first run in the third inning. It was the first of two errors on the night for Zeigler.

“I was just really calm before the game,” said Zeigler. “It was everything as usual. I worked on throwing strikes out there. Throwing strikes each pitch gave them something to think about. I gave up timely hits. They outplayed us.”

For just one inning, LSU was indeed better. And it was just enough.

ULM 1, LSU 4

-----------------------------------------------------
WARHAWKS        001 000 000 -  1  4  2
TIGERS                  001 000 30X -  4  6  0
-----------------------------------------------------

WP — Aaron Nola (7-4)

LP — Randy Zeigler (5-7)

S — Chris Cotton (1)

T — 2:23    A — 9,902 (10,989 paid)

Topics: Aaron Nola, Alex Edwards, Arby Fields, Austin Nola, Baton Rouge Regional, Chris Cotton, College Baseball, LSU Baseball, Lsu News, Ty Ross, Tyler Hanover, Ulm

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