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June 8, 2012

First game suspended

Following a 2-hour rain delay, NCAA officials suspended Friday's Baton Rouge Super-Regional opener between Stony Brook and LSU.

The teams were unable to decide a winner after four hours on the playing field prior to the rain. The game was suspended after 11 innings with the score tied at 4-4.

Due to poor field conditions and more bad weather in the forecast for Friday night, NCAA representatives Wilfred Ellis and Mike Knight made the decision to suspend the game.

The first game of the super-regional will be resumed at 10 a.m. Saturday at The Box. The second game of the series will begin 50 minutes after the completion of the suspended game. If a third game is necessary, it is scheduled for Sunday at noon.

Three times on Friday afternoon, LSU was down to its final at-bat trailing Stony Brook by one run. Each time, the Tigers answered with a game-tying run. What was surprising was the method in which LSU evened the score in the ninth, tenth and 11th innings.

The Tigers hit three solo home runs to tie the score each time. The first two came from unexpected players - JaCoby Jones and Tyler Moore. The homer in the 11th came from the team leader - Mason Katz.

"This is a strange situation for these two teams to be in," LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. "Stony Brook was outplaying us for a majority of the game. They had some tough outs and their pitcher was outstanding."

Jones hit a line drive home run over the left field fence against James Campbell to lead off the bottom of the ninth to tie the score at 2-2. One inning later, the Tigers were down to their final strike when Moore hit his homer on a full-count pitch into the right field seats.

"I was leading off the inning and I just wanted to get on base," Jones said. "I asked (Mainieri) if he wanted me to take the first pitch or hit. He told me to hit it out. I got a pitch to hit late in the at-bat. The count was 2-and-2 and the pitch was a fast ball in."

The home runs were the fourth of the season for both Jones and Moore. Both homers came after Stony Brook outfielders failed to catch foul fly balls - rightfielder Sal Intagliata on Jones and leftfielder Steven Goldstein on Moore. Campbell had allowed just one homer in 52 innings prior to Friday's game.

"I got another chance," Moore said. "When I hit the foul ball, I was hoping it would go into the stands. Fortunately, (Goldstein) overran it. I fouled off some pitches. On the home run, the ball hit the barrel and it carried out."

Katz hit a long home run - his 12th of the season - off reliever Jasvir Rakkar to tie the score at 4-4 to lead off the 11th. Raph Rhymes nearly ended the game on the next pitch, but his line drive just hooked foul in front of the left field foul pole.

"I felt good to barrel up a ball again," said Katz, who had just one hit previously in the NCAA tournament. "The count got to 2-and-0. I looked at coach Mainieri and he just smirked. I knew what he wanted me to do."

The Tigers did have a chance to win the game in the 11th inning. After Rhymes struck out, Ty Ross walked. Jordy Snikeris flied out, but Grant Dozar kept LSU alive with a single. With Ross at second base, Tyler Hanover flied out to end the inning.

Stony Brook starting pitcher Brandon McNitt was in complete control against the Tigers. In the first seven innings, LSU had only two runners get past first base. Throwing errors by shortstop Cole Peragine enabled the Tigers to get the batter that far both times.

In the second, Rhymes reached on Peragine's first error. After Ross popped up, Rhymes moved to second on a single by Snikeris. Alex Edward then hit into an inning-ending double play.

LSU got an unearned run off McNitt in the seventh. With one out, Rhymes against reached on a Peragine error. McNitt wild pitched Rhymes to third from where he scored on Ross' grounder to Peragine.

McNitt was relieved by Campbell after giving up a leadoff single by Edward in the eighth. Hanover laid down a bunt. Pinch-runner Jared Foster would have been thrown out at second, but catcher Pat Cantwell made a poor throw.

With runners on first and second, Moore was sent up to pinch-hit for Arby Fields. Moore twice fouled off bunt attempts. On a full-count pitch, Mainieri took off the bunt and started the runners.

Moore, who had more strikeouts (29) than hits (26) for the year, struck out into a double play as Foster was thrown out at third base. Austin Nola popped out to first baseman Kevin Courtney to keep the Tigers behind by one run. LSU then turned to the long ball to stay in the game.

"We are not a huge power team, but we were able to pop a few out (Friday)," Katz said. "We are a resilient team. When we get behind, nobody has his head down. Nobody gives up."

Mainieri was undecided as to which pitcher will be on the mound when the game resumes. He used three relief pitchers Friday - Joey Bourgeois for one inning, Chris Cotton for three innings and Nick Goody for one inning. Mainieri did say that Goody will be available in the suspended game.


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