On a mission: No. 1 LSU sweeps Oklahoma to advance to College World Series

Staff Writer
Plaquemine Post South
LSU's JaCoby Jones is greeted by Ty Ross at home plate after hitting a solo home run in the eighth inning of the No. 1 Tigers' 11-1 Super Regional clinching victory over Oklahoma on Saturday night in Alex Box Stadium. 
POST SOUTH PHOTO/Peter Silas Pasqua

BATON ROUGE - The LSU baseball team punched a 16th ticket to the College World Series by dominating Oklahoma, 11-1, on Saturday.

In the process, LSU (57-9) tied the school record for victories in a season and won its sixth NCAA Super Regional title in 10 appearances.

All six have come at Alex Box Stadium, which found room for a record 11,401 fans to watch the Tigers dogpile at the new stadium for the first time since its inaugural season in 2009.

Using a core of upperclass leaders mixed with key newcomers, Mainieri earned his third trip to Omaha in his seven seasons at LSU. In 2009, he led the Tigers to the school's sixth National Championship after defeating Texas in the championship series.

"This room reeks of tradition and winning," Mainieri said. "The coaches before me have done amazing things and I get to be the custodian of it now. This team is special and I knew it before the year began. We added a few key pieces to the puzzle this year and we are fortunate. The team has just jelled."

This year, Mainieri's Tigers will take on UCLA on June 16, taking the field at the new TD Ameritrade Park Omaha for the first time. The 24,000 seat stadium opened in April of 2012 and will play host to its second CWS. Game time will be 7 p.m. on ESPN.

"You are always happy to go to Omaha and people don't quite understand how hard it is to get there," Mainieri said. "It's really quite an accomplishment to earn your way there any year but especially this year.

"We are going there to win and I believe we can. We have a great group of guys that are very talented and are on a mission. We've got what it takes and we will show up against whomever we play."

A day after Aaron Nola tossed a two-hit shutout that gave LSU a lead in the best-of-three series, four Tigers combined to hold Oklahoma to one run on five hits.

Will LaMarche (3-0), who took over after a 52-minute lightning delay that forced starter Ryan Eades from the game, earned the victory. Eades gave up a run on three hits, but battled out of jams in the first and second innings and left the game with a 3-1 lead through four innings. LaMarche, Nick Rumbelow and Chris Cotton held the Sooners scoreless for the remaining five frames, as LSU outscored Oklahoma in the series sweep, 13-1.

Junior second baseman JaCoby Jones powered the Tigers through the Super Regional, In his final five at bats in the series - starting with Friday's eighth-inning triple off Jonathan Gray that ended up as the game-winning run - Jones hit for the cycle.

The third-round draft pick finished perhaps his final game at The Box Saturday with a 4-for-4 performance including a ordinary hit to center that he legged into a double and a solo home run in the eighth. Jones scored three times and had two RBI.

Oklahoma left-hander Dillon Overton (9-3), who along with Eades was a second-round draft pick on Thursday, took the loss. He returned to the mound after the lightning delay to start the fifth inning but was lifted in the sixth after Ty Ross' safety squeeze scored Raph Rhymes and gave LSU a 4-1 lead.

In the first inning, the Sooners grabbed an early 1-0 lead on an RBI single to right off the bat of centerfielder Max White.

The Tigers quickly responded in the top of the second with a leadoff single from Rhymes. He later came home on an RBI single to centerfield from Jones, tying the score at 1-1.

With one out in the third, outfielder Mark Laird connected for a line drive that got past Oklahoma right fielder Hunter Hayley and into the corner, allowing Laird to reach third. He later scored on an RBI single off the bat of shortstop Alex Bregman, putting LSU ahead 2-1.

In the fourth, Jones hit a laser to center, and then showcased his base-running abilities by reaching second base on the play. With two outs in the inning, outfielder Jared Foster sent Jones home with an RBI single, extending the LSU lead to 3-1.

LSU tacked on another run in the sixth on a perfect squeeze bunt by Ross, scoring Rhymes from third base. In the next inning, Jones connected for his fourth hit of the night and his sixth homer of the season into the bleachers in left field.

Jones' long ball gave Cotton a 5-1 advantage heading to the bottom of the eighth. He retired the side with a spectacular leaping grab from Rhymes along the wall in left field.

The Tigers kept swinging into the ninth with an RBI double from Rhymes down the third base line. Later in the ninth Ross added two more runs with a two-RBI line drive to center, giving LSU an 8-1 cushion. Three more insurance runs came in the final frame on a wild pitch and RBI hits from Andrew Stevenson and Alex Edward.

Cotton then took the mound in the ninth, giving the Tigers a trip to Omaha with an 11-1 victory with a 1-2-3 inning of work.

Tyler Moore's double broke a scoreless tie on Friday as Nola (12-0) was magnificent on the mound, tossing his fifth complete game of the season with no walks and six strikeouts.

With one out in the bottom of the eighth, Jones broke through against the hard-throwing Gray with his first triple of the season into the right-centerfield gap. In the next at-bat, Moore, pinch hitting for Stevenson, connected for a double over Oklahoma right fielder Taylor Alspaugh's outstretched glove, putting the Tigers in front 1-0 and sending Gray to the showers after 118 pitches.

With Oklahoma reliever Ralph Garza on the hill, pinch runner Foster came home on a seeing-eye single to right off the bat of rightfielder Laird, who finished 3-for-4 on the night.

With a 2-0 advantage in the ninth, Nola shut the door retiring the Sooners in order and marking his fifth complete game performance on the season. Nola threw 102 pitches including 77 for strikes.