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June 9, 2012
One game for Omaha
For two days, the LSU and Stony Brook's baseball teams have competed against each other in the midst of numerous rain showers and weather delays.
After two games, the Baton Rouge Super-Regional is all even. In the resumption of Friday's suspended game Saturday morning, the Tigers edged the Seawolves 5-4 on a 12th-inning single by Mason Katz.
Stony Brook, which won three elimination games in capturing the Coral Gables Regional last week, then forced a decisive contest in the best-of-three series by beating LSU and staff ace Kevin Gausman, 3-1.
So, the Tigers (47-17) and Seawolves (51-13) will play a winner-take-all game for a trip to the College World Series in Omaha on Sunday at noon.
"We just need to regroup," LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. "We won one today and we lost one today. We play for all the marbles tomorrow. That's what we have worked for all year, the chance to go to Omaha."
Undoubtedly, LSU needs to do a better job at the plate. In both games, Stony Brook's starting pitchers have shut down LSU's hitters. The Tigers have just two runs - both unearned - against Brandon McNitt on Friday and Tyler Johnson on Saturday.
"We need to be better in every aspect of our offense," said Katz, who is 2-for-8 in the first two games. "We're not going to pop one out three innings in a row like we did yesterday very often.
"We have to do what we did to win the first game today," Katz said. "Get a guy on, get him over and get him in. We have to stick to our simple approach and not try to pop the ball out."
LSU picked up three hits against Johnson, who won his 12th game of the season. The Tigers had their share of base runners due to four walks, two hit batters and an error but rarely threatened against Johnson, who struck out just one batter.
Alex Edward drew a leadoff walk in the third and was bunted to second by Tyler Hanover only to have both Austin Nola and JaCoby Jones grounded out to shortstop Cole Peragine.
A base-running mistake short-circuited a potential LSU rally in the fifth.
Jordy Snikeris, who had a leadoff single, was running on a full-count pitch to Tyler Moore. The pitch was ball four.
Catcher Pat Cantwell still made a throw down to second base. Snikeris didn't know it was ball four and slid into second with his momentum carrying him past the base and getting tagged by Peragine.
"I have never seen a guy get thrown out at second base on ball four," Mainieri said. "Jordy had no idea it was ball four and unfortunately he slid over the base. We had a couple of tough breaks go against us."
Edward was then hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. But, the Tigers failed to score as Hanover hit into a force play and Nola grounded out to second baseman Maxx Tissenbaum.
An error by Johnson was the only reason LSU scored its one run an inning later.
Jones topped a ball down the third base line. Johnson fielded the ball and made a bad throw to first base. After Katz grounded out, Raph Rhymes singled home Jones to pull within the Tigers within the final score.
Ty Ross walked, but Snikeris hit into an inning-ending double play.
"We need to get more hits than we've been getting," Mainieri said. "Stony Brook does not have overpowering guys, but they have good command and they mix up their pitches well. Their pitchers don't let you get too comfortable in the batter's box."
Johnson would have retired the final ten batters he faced were it not for a throwing error by third baseman William Carmona on Snikeris' two-out grounder in the ninth.
Johnson got Moore to pop out to Carmona to end the game.
"Johnson threw a phenomenal game," Katz said. "He did it last summer in the Cape (Cod League). He can work both sides of the plate with his sinker and he has a good slider. He kept us off balance with his slider and sinker. With two strikes, he would extend in and extend out. He just beat us."
Gausman, who had thrown the 12th inning in the suspended game, certainly threw well enough to win. He gave up two runs in the third and one in the fifth on a homer by Kevin Courtney.
Gausman allowed six hits - three by Courtney - in his seven innings in what was likely his final home appearance.
"What Kevin did for our team today was really heroic," Mainieri said. "Their kid was great, too. It was two warriors going at it toe-to-toe, pitch-to-pitch.
"You can tip your hat to their kid. He deserves all of the accolades that he receives, but so does our guy. It is a shame that our guy had to lose that game because he pitched his heart out."
NOTES: Mainieri named Ryan Eades as LSU's starting pitcher in the rubber game of the super-regional series. ... The Tigers are 2-1 in decisive games of super-regional series - winning at home against Baylor and Cal Irvine and losing at Zephyr Field against Tulane.