Pitcher Kevin Gausman probably made his final appearance in a game on the Alex Box Stadium pitching mound Saturday.
Gausman, who does have two years of eligibility remaining at LSU, is expected to sign a professional contract with the Baltimore Orioles after being the fourth pick of the major league baseball draft earlier this week.
Tigers coach Paul Mainieri handed the ball to Gausman not once, but twice Saturday morning. First, Mainieri chose Gausman to be the pitcher when Friday's suspended game against Stony Brook was resumed in the 12th inning.
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After LSU won the suspended game 5-4 in the bottom of the 12th on Mason Katz' single, Gausman made his normal start in the regularly scheduled second contest of the series. Gausman kept the Tigers in the game, but dropped a 3-1 decision to the Seawolves and their No. 1 pitcher Tyler Johnson.
"I have never thought over a decision as much as this one to bring Kevin in to start the 12th inning," Mainieri said. "I thought to win today, we needed some boldness. I knew it would be controversial if it didn't work, but our best chance to win was with Kevin on the mound.
"There was also the bad weather forecast. Everyone said that it would rain by 1 o'clock. Suppose we didn't win the first game and it rains in the second game and we have a five-hour delay and can't bring Kevin back. I learned in the postseason you do what you can to win a game when you have the chance."
Gausman had been the starter in each of his previous 30 appearances in a LSU uniform before Saturday. However, he had performed similar double duty during his high school days in Colorado.
"In my senior year in high school in the regionals, I closed out the first game by throwing one inning and then I started the second game," Gausman said. "I didn't find out today I was going to start the first game until I got the field. It was about two hours before the game.
"The guys were asking me if I was throwing game one. I said 'no. that's ridiculous to think that.' Then, I sat down with coach (Mainieri) and we talked about it. I'm a competitor. I wanted the ball."
Gausman threw just 12 pitches in retiring Stony Brook in order in the top of the 12th. Steven Goldstein opened the inning with a fly ball to left fielder Raph Rhymes. Kevin Courtney hit a line drive to center field which was misjudged by Katz before he made the catch. Gausman then struck out Sal Intagliata.
"I just sat around for about 20 minute after the first game," Gausman said. "I relaxed and then went out and got loose. That's nothing new to do in high school, but it's something different to see in college."
In the second game, Gausman retired the first seven batters - four on strikeouts. However, a steady rain then began to fall and the Seawolves batters had some success against Gausman. Courtney doubled, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Intagliata.
Travis Jankowski followed with a single to left field with Intagliata moving to second. The Tigers were unable to turn a double play on Pat Cantwell's grounder to second baseman JaCoby Jones. William Carmona put Stony Brook ahead 2-0 with a single which brought home Intagliata.
"I had trouble having a feel on my pitches during the rain," Gausman said. "I never use resin and I used resin today. That was something different. I didn't have my pinpoint accuracy in that inning. I had to throw the ball down the middle."
The Seawolves tacked on another run against Gausman in the fifth when Courtney hit a home run into the right field seats. Gausman allowed three runs and six hits - three by Courtney - with one walk and six strikeouts in seven innings of the regularly-scheduled game.
"In the middle of the game, I started throwing well," Gausman said. "I was keeping the ball down for the most part all day. The three pitches I left up were the three pitches that hurt us."
Joe Broussard threw a one-two-three eighth for the Tigers. LSU will certainly have a fresh bullpen for the rubber game Sunday since Gausman threw all but one inning Saturday. Ryan Eades will be the starting pitcher in the deciding game of the super-regional series.
"I'd tell Ryan to keep the ball down," Gausman said. "They have hit some balls hard even on their outs. You have to pound the strike zone against them. You can't put them in hitters' counts."
Gausman and Aaron Nola are the only two pitchers who will be unavailable to Mainieri in the Sunday contest.
"We'll start Ryan Eades," Mainieri said. "We have a deep and rested bullpen because we didn't tax it today. I don't know what Stony Brook has available. I'm sure they have some good pitching ready for tomorrow."