LSU beats USM and will host Fla. St. in Super Regional; Duplantis sets career hits record

Glenn Guilbeau
The Daily Advertiser
The LSU Tigers take down  Southern Miss to win the 2019 NCAA Regional Tournament in Baton Rouge, LA. Sunday, June 2, 2019.

BATON ROUGE - It was a Super Sunday for LSU, and another one could be on the way.

First, No. 4 national seed Georgia was eliminated Sunday afternoon on its home field in Athens by No. 3 regional seed Florida State, 10-1. Then the Tigers beat Southern Mississippi, 6-4, Sunday night, in front of 10,718 at Alex Box Stadium, and therefore will take Georgia's spot as a Super Regional host this weekend at the Box against the Seminoles.

WATCH: Antoine Duplantis break the career hits record at LSU

And Lafayette's Antoine Duplantis broke the LSU career record for hits with his 353rd in the first inning.

"I'm pretty excited," said LSU shortstop Josh Smith, who homered to lead off the game and tripled in two more runs for a 3-0 lead in the second inning. "I think a lot of people forget that we were the preseason No. 1. We're a pretty good team. A lot of people doubted us. To be hosting a Super Regional is pretty awesome."

MORE: Suddenly, LSU is a "new" team making a June run

LSU (40-24) will be hosting a best-of-three Super Regional for the right to advance to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, for the 11th time since that format began in 1999. The Tigers, who are a No. 13 national seed, are a Super Regional host for only the second time by virtue of a top eight national seed losing as a host in the NCAA Regional round.

The previous time was in 2004 when top eight seed Rice was upset by Texas A&M, which lost at LSU in the Super Regional.

Antoine Duplantis hits a single to center field for his 353rd hit of the season to break Eddy Furniss for All-Time Hits Record at LSU as The LSU Tigers take on Southern Miss in the 2019 NCAA Regional Tournament in Baton Rouge, LA. Sunday, June 2, 2019.

Florida State (39-21) won its three NCAA Regional games in Athens by a combined 35-11 with a 13-7 over Florida Atlantic, 12-3 over Georgia and 10-1 over Georgia. Coach Mike Martin, 75, announced before this season that 2019 will be his last year as coach after starting at FSU in 1980. LSU has advanced to the CWS from home Super Regionals eight times and lost twice.

"On to the Super Regionals. Just excited to go," Smith said.

"I'm glad Georgia lost so we get to host," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri, who will be hosting his eighth Super Regional at LSU and has advanced to the CWS five times. "But our kids earned it. They deserve it."

Southern Mississippi finished its season at 40-21.

LSU, which trailed the Golden Eagles 4-3 after six innings, scored three in the seventh to take the 6-4 lead. Duplantis led off with a single for his 354th hit. And Daniel Cabrera singled to chase Southern Mississippi starter Josh Lewis.

MORE: LSU also had to rally late to beat USM on Saturday

Zach Watson then greeted reliever Jarod Wright by roping a two-run single to center field to put the Tigers up 5-4. Saul Garza followed with a double for the 6-4 advantage.

Trent Vietmeier, who just came off a shoulder injury last week, picked up the victory with two innings of relief. He improved to 3-1 on the season after allowing zero runs on two hits with two strikeouts and zero walks. Devin Fontenot threw two innings of shut-out ball, allowing no hits with one walk and two strikeouts for his seventh save.

Lewis (1-1) took the loss for USM.

"LSU was just a little too much for us," Eagles' coach Scott Berry said.  

LSU found itself down 4-3, in the sixth inning to an inspired USM team that came back against Arizona State in an afternoon game Sunday from deficits of 10-2 in the fifth, 12-6 after six, and 12-9 after eight to win 13-12 in the bottom of the ninth.

"I'm so happy we don't have to play them one more time," Mainieri said. "In all honesty, I thought the game would be a little easier today."

USM would have had to beat LSU Sunday night and again Monday to advance to the Super Regional, which would have been at Florida State had LSU lost two.

Smith set the tone in the first inning when he drove Lewis' first delivery over the right field wall. "First-pitch fastball - he ambushed it," Lewis said.

The excitement continued as Duplantis became LSU's all-time career hits leader when he singled to center later in the first inning. He broke the record of 352 held by Eddy Furniss, who set it from 1995-98.

"I just want to say something," Watson said. "When he got that hit, I got chills through my body."

MORE: Southern Mississippi came into LSU game on a rush

USM would not go quietly despite LSU's emotional start. Gabe Montenegro, whose two-run, two-out single in the bottom of the ninth gave the Eagles the 13-12 walk-off win over Arizona State just hours earlier, homered to lead off the fourth and cut LSU's lead to 3-1 off starter Eric Walker.

The Eagles struck for three more and took a 4-3 lead in the fifth. Bryant Bowen walked to lead off and was sacrifice bunted to second by Cole Donaldson. Walker apparently got Hunter Leblanc out on a grounder to Reid at first base, but a review showed Leblanc beat Reid's throw to Walker at first was late. 

Danny Lynch followed with a two-run single to right field to tie it 3-3. Walker got Storme Cooper to pop out to shortstop, but he walked Montenegro and was replaced by Matthew Beck. Matthew Guidry, whose grand slam off Zack Hess in the seventh Saturday night tied LSU 4-4 before the Tigers won 8-4, singled off Beck to give USM the 4-3 lead.

"Southern Mississippi tested us and took us to the limit in both games," Mainieri said. "We found a way to win both games."

LSU also found a way to inch back to the top as one of only eight teams who will be in a Super Regional after falling from that No. 1 ranking into the 20s and on the bubble to even host a NCAA Regional just two weeks ago.

"It was a grind to get here," Mainieri said. "Sometimes when you have to grind your way, it's more beneficial. We're two wins away from going to Omaha. That's the goal, no matter how we got here."