It was beautiful and ugly…well coached and not, and I am only talking about one team. For most of the game Paul Mainieri and his teamed gave the Oregon State Beavers every opportunity to win the game. LSU made plenty of base running errors, had a few defensive breakdowns, at times strange decisions at the plate batting, and Mainieri turned into Grady Little about handling his starting pitcher Ryan Eades, but the Tigers were just too talented and the 10,000 LSU fans on-hand seemingly willed the Tigers to a 6-5 victory.
Early on, it appeared playing two games in on day was too much for the Beavers. Earlier in the day, Oregon State had to defeat ULM to advance to the championship game. They were rewarded by LSU scoring three runs in the top of the first led by a Raph Rhyme’s 2-run homerun.
The 3-0 lead did not last long. In the bottom of the innings Tyler Smith led the inning off with a single, but it turned into a triple thanks to Arby Fields. The Tiger centerfielder could not apply the brakes while tracking the ball and allowed a routine line-drive to reach the wall. Smith scored on a Michael Conforto sacrifice fly..
A trend began in the bottom of the second for LSU’s starting pitcher Ryan Eades. Eades could retire two batters easily in most innings, but the final out was as difficult for Eades to record as it is going to be for the NCAA explaining how Miami hosted a regional. In the bottom of the second, with two outs, Eades gave up an RBI single to Ryan Gorton before recording the final out.
Eades suffered the same fate in the fourth inning, this time John Tommasini hit a 2-out RBI single to tie the game at three. Eades seemed to revert back to the pitcher we saw for most of the SEC season. Eades has good stuff, but just can not limit opposing batters from reaching base. He lacks a strike-out pitch, which isn’t something all guys have, but when you are measured by the talents of both Kevin Gausman and Aaron Nola…any diminishes are alarming.
Things went from bad to what is going on for Eades in the Sixth. After recording two easy outs, Eades allowed the next four batters to reach base, and with the bases loaded Tyler Smith hit a two-RBI single. The Beavers now had a 5-3 lead, but more importantly they had sucked the life out of the Box.
LSU began its comeback in the seventh inning as relief pitcher Scott Schultz finally began to show weakness. Schultz entered the game in the first after starter Taylor Starr could only record one out. Schultz pitched 8.2 innings, allowed only three hits and struck out nine.
Schultz started the seventh inning by plunking Grant Dozar. The next two Tigers, Alex Edward and Tyler Hanover, reached base due to fielding errors by third baseman Ryan Dunn, but Edward was thrown out trying to steal second. Dozar eventually scored to close the Beaver’s gap to 5-4. ( that line alone is worth a ticket to Las Vegas on Americas Got Talent, right?)
LSU would add another run in the ninth inning to tie the game. Ty Ross led-off the inning with a moon-shot double and Jared Foster pinch ran for the catcher. Another interesting decision by Mainieri. Instead if bunting Foster over to third, he allowed Dozar to swing. Dozar struck out and a huge grown was let out at the box, but the tone quickly returned to sounds of joy as Edward hit a RBI double to tie the game.
The Tigers sealed the game in the tenth thanks largely to the Beaver’s bullpen imploding. Austin Nola led off the inning with a walk and advanced to third from a Jacoby Jones double. Nola would score the go-ahead run, and Nick Goody was called upon to win it.
Tension was high during Goody’s first batter. Even with a week removed his performance against Mississippi State still loomed in the minds for most of us, but he did not give the Beavers a chance as he struck out the side.
The regional win is the first for LSU since 2009. The Tigers will face the winner of the Stony Brook/UCF game tomorrow night.
Topics: Alex Edward, Arby Fields, Austin Nola, Baton Rouge Regional, College Baseball, LSU Baseball, NCAA Regionals, Oregon State Baseball, Paul Mainieri, Raph Rhymes, Ryan Eades, Scott Schultz, Ty Ross, Tyler Hanover