BASEBALL

Striving to be the best: No. 1 LSU advances to Super Regional against Oklahoma

Staff Writer
Plaquemine Post South
LSU's Alex Bregman throws to first after registering the force from Jacoby Jones at second in the Tigers' 8-5 victory over Sam Houston State on Saturday night in Alex Box Stadium. 
POST SOUTH PHOTO/Peter Silas Pasqua

BATON ROUGE - NCAA Regional Most Outstanding Player Alex Bregman went 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI to lead the LSU baseball team past Louisiana-Lafayette, 5-1, on Sunday night at Alex Box Stadium.

LSU (55-9), which won its 20th regional title, will play host to Oklahoma (43-19), who knocked off top-seeded Virginia Tech to advance to the best-of-three NCAA Super Regional.

The Baton Rouge Super Regional will begin Friday, June 7 at 6 p.m. on ESPN. Game 2 will follow Saturday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2. Game 3, if necessary, is set for Sunday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.

"Our attitude is that if we strive to be the best that we can be then somewhere along the way we are going to grab excellence and win most of our games," LSU coach Paul Mainieri said.

LSU starter Brent Bonvillain (3-0) tossed a career-high 5 1/3 innings, allowing one unearned run on three hits with three strikeouts and a walk.

In the sixth inning, Raph Rhymes (3-for-5) scored Jacoby Jones and Bregman with a looping two-RBI single to right field to put LSU ahead 4-0.

Bregman provided LSU an insurance run in the eighth on a solo blast into the bleachers in left.

In front of a record crowd of 10,752 at Alex Box Stadium, LSU fought back from a 5-1 deficit to advance to the regional final, 8-5, over Sam Houston State on Saturday night.

LSU committed three of its five errors in the bottom of the first inning that forced starter Aaron Nola to throw 42 pitches in the frame and led to five unearned runs.

This came on the heels of a Bregman home run that was ruled a double.

However, Nola (11-0) recovered and threw another masterful performance for the overflow crowd. The Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year allowed six hits with six strikeouts and three walks in seven innings.

SEC Tournament MVP Chris Cotton gave up a hit and a walk in the final two innings but kept the Bearkats scoreless to earn his school record-tying 16th save of the season.

LSU cut the Sam Houston State lead to 5-3 in the second inning with an RBI-single from Bregman, who finished the night 3-for-6.

Mason Katz was 2-for-2 with three runs and four RBI, as LSU advanced past Jackson State on Friday afternoon at Alex Box Stadium, 11-7.

Already without the services of outfielder Mark Laird for the game and starting pitcher Cody Glenn for the weekend, the Tigers suffered another blow when leftfielder Rhymes collided with shortstop Bregman on a fly ball that Bregman caught to end the top of the fourth. Each left the game, as Rhymes suffered a cut on his lip and received stitches, and Bregman left the facility to be evaluated.

"Maybe one of the more painful wins that we've had in our time," Mainieri said.

Meanwhile, LSU pitcher Kurt McCune (4-1) tossed four 2/3 innings of scoreless relief of starter Ryan Eades. McCune allowed four hits with five strikeouts after entering a tie game in the third. The LSU offense then scored 10-unanswered runs to bust the game open. Katz' two-run homer to center capped a four-run fourth inning and put LSU ahead 8-2.