LSU Advances to Super Regionals with 9-8 Thriller Over Oregon
The LSU Tigers advanced to the super regional round of the NCAA Tournament with a thrilling 9-8 victory against the Oregon Ducks
After dropping their first game of the Eugene, Oregon regional to Gonzaga 3-0, the Tigers rallied to win four consecutive elimination games, including two over the No. 14 national seeded Ducks. The winner-take-all finale was an exciting match, where there were five lead changes, but LSU managed to hold off Oregon late to secure their program's 15th trip to the super regional round.
The Tigers got off to a good start in the regional finale against the Ducks. After starting pitcher Ma'Khail Hilliard threw a clean first frame in his only inning of the game, a two-out single by Tre Morgan set up Gavin Dugas for a two-run home run. LSU took a 2-0 lead early.
Oregon answered in the top of the second with a RBI-double to cut the lead in half. With one out, the runner at second stole third base which set up a game-tying sacrifice fly-out to tie the game 2-2.
In the top of the third, the Ducks took their first lead of the night with a two-run home run following a one-out walk. It would not be the last time that a free base-runner hurt the Tigers in the contest.
In the fourth inning, Oregon's offense continued to put pressure on the LSU pitching staff, using three consecutive two-out singles to add to their lead and make it 5-2.
Dugas opened the bottom half of the fourth inning with a solo home run- his second of the game. Drew Bianco hit a one-out single, stole second base, and advanced to third on a wild pitch. A second wild pitch in the inning allowed him to score and the Ducks lead was cut to 5-4.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Tigers rallied to retake the lead. Cade Doughty beat out a ground ball to the shortstop for an infield single with one out. In the next at-bat, Bianco crushed a two-run home run to put LSU in front 6-5.
Their lead lasted two at-bats into the seventh inning. A lead-off error to start the inning gave the Ducks a free base-runner, and a two-run home run gave Oregon their second lead of the night at 7-6.
The Tigers then went to their ace pitcher Landon Marceaux, who threw 101 pitches in their regional opener on Friday night. He stranded two runners with a fly-out in the seventh inning. He also pitched a scoreless eighth to keep LSU within one run.
The eighth inning was the biggest of the game for LSU's offense. Dugas walked and Doughty hit a double to put runners at second and third base with no outs. After a strikeout, Cade Beloso hit a ground ball to the Ducks first baseman, and he tried to throw to home plate to erase the tying run. However, Dugas, who was running on contact, avoided the tag on his slide and his run tied the game at 7-7.
After that, runners were on first and third base with one out in the inning. The Oregon closer was then called for a balk which scored Doughty from third and advanced Beloso to second base. LSU took their final lead of the night on a mistake by the Ducks pitcher.
Jordan Thompson got his first hit of the night with a RBI-single to add an insurance run, and, even though the next two batters failed to reach base, the Tigers rally gave them a 9-7 lead.
Marceaux came back out for the top of the ninth inning to face the best hitters in the Oregon lineup, needing three outs to seal LSU's ticket to the next round of the tournament. He started the inning with a strikeout, but two one-out singles put runners at the corners. A RBI-groundout made it 9-8 and moved the tying runner to second base with two outs. An infield single kept the inning alive for Oregon, but Marceaux was able to get the final out on a fly-out, and the Tigers survived 9-8 to win the Eugene regional.
With the win, LSU keeps their season alive and head coach Paul Mainieri's impending retirement is postponed at least another weekend.
Their super regional matchup is in Knoxville, Tennessee against the No. 3 national seeded Tennessee Volunteers. The Tigers and Volunteers played a three-game weekend conference series in March where Tennessee swept all three games at home, but each contest was within two runs. The two teams will play in a best-of-three series starting on Saturday at 6:00 p.m.