#16 Oregon State (39-18) vs. #3 LSU (44-16) at 7 PM CDT (5 PM PDT) at Alex Box Stadium on the LSU Campus in Baton Rogue, LA - Comcast Sports Northwest - KEJO 1240 AM & KPOJ 620 AM - Audio Stream on Beaver Nation Online, for a fee
Oregon St. continues their trek through the Baton Rogue Regional with a Saturday evening showdown with host LSU. The winner moves into the enviable position of having 2 opportunities if necessary to win 1 game, while the loser would have to win 3 straight in 2 days, in order to win the regional.
The game will be a sellout, with a crowd in the area of 12,000 Tiger fans. LSU has led the NCAA in baseball attendance for the last 16 seasons, and SEC teams had 7 of the top 10 total attendances this year.
Pitching carried the Beavers to a 2-1 win over Belmont to open the NCAA regionals, with freshman Jace Fry turning in a strong 5+ innings, before turning the 1-1 tie game over to the "Killer B's". Fry unexpectedly experienced tightness in his forearm in the top of the 6th inning, and Tony Bryant had to come in without warning.
"He felt like he felt something in his arm, and we weren't going to take a chance on him and jeopardize that," Oregon St. coach Pat Casey said. "I think he's going to be fine, but he felt something and wanted to talk to me about it. ... I said, ‘no talking, you're coming out.'"
Bryant, the Beavers' closer for much of the season, proceeded to take over with a 2-2 count, and set down 5 Bruins before giving up a single to Drew Turner.
Matt Boyd took over, and struck out the first batter he faced in each of the last 3 innings to set the tempo. Boyd gave up only a 2 out single in the 8th, and never let the ball get out of the reach of the infield in the 9th inning.
Meanwhile, Joey Matthews and Ryan Barnes combined their efforts in the bottom of the 6th to push across what would prove to be the game winning run in dramatic fashion.
Matthews drove the first pitch he saw to center field for a double, and after moving to third on a Tyler Smith sacrifice, and an intentional walk to Michael Conforto, scored on a masterful bunt by Barnes. Barnes rolled the ball all the way down the first base line, inches from going foul. Belmont had to let the ball roll, as the only way they could get Matthews backed up to third base again was to have it go foul. It never did, and Oregon St. had the run that was all the help Bryant and Boyd needed.
Bryant got the win, improving him to 6-2 for the season, and Boyd picked up his 3rd save, and easily his best one.
Chase Brookshire went 7 innings for Belmont, and allowed only 3 hits and 2 walks, but still suffered the loss, dropping him to 8-4 for the season.
Oregon St. took the early lead in the 2nd inning when Kavin Keyes lifted a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Barnes, who had led off the inning with a double to right, and moved over to third on Ryan Gorton's sacrifice.
Belmont retaliated in the 5th inning, when Dylan Craig led off with a triple into the right field corner, and scored when Zac Mitchell hit a grounder to Smith that he couldn't do anything other than throw out Mitchell with.
All 3 runs in the game came after lead-off extra base hits. It was also the first game the Beavers have won this season when they have scored 2 of fewer runs, having lost all 11 such regular season games.
The win achieved another milestone, as Casey, who became the winningest baseball coach in Oregon St. history with last Friday's win over Oregon, became the winningest Oregon St. coach in any sport with the win over Belmont. Casey's 617 wins passed wrestling coach Dale Thomas, who won 616 matches in his career.
LSU Prevails In Another Low-Scoring Game
The WarHawks scored on a pair of singles, which was half the hits they would get against the Tigers, and starter Aaron Nola, who got the win, improving him to 7-4 for the season. Nola went 8 innings before handing the ball over to Chris Cotton, who got his first save of the year.
The Tigers led off the 7th with 3 consecutive singles, the third a 2 RBI single by Tyler Hanover. Hanover went on to score the final run of the game on Austin Nola's RBI double.
6 time National Champion LSU is looking for their 11th win in the 12 regionals that the Tigers have hosted. The Tigers have captured 18 regionals in 25 trips to the NCAA postseason.
Setting the Table
For those in the mid-valley, KEJO Radio, the Home of the Beavers, will again have a 1 hour tailgater show, starting at 3:30 PM, preceding the network pregame at 4:30 PM.
Louisiana-Monroe defeated Belmont 6-3 this afternoon, sending the Bruins home. The WarHawks (32-29) await tonight's loser in tomorrow afternoon's elimination game, at 1:30 CDT (11:30 AM PDT).
Danny Hayes will return to the lineup tonight, in the designated hitter and cleanup role, as Conforto will be back in left field.
Casey has ruled Fry out for the rest of the regional, which could go 4 more games, but the specifics of the root issue are still unknown.
Oregon St. expects to send sophomore RHP Dan Child (6-3, 2.75 ERA) to the mound tonight, and LSU will counter with the ace of their staff, sophomore LHP Kevin Gausman (10-1, 2.84 ERA).
Based on those season numbers, look for another low-scoring game tonight.