The super regionals are off and running, and Friday night featured two tight games that both came down to the late innings. LSU picked up a win in a big-time pitchers' duel with Oklahoma, and UCLA overcame a late rally to outlast Cal State Fullerton in extra innings.
LSU 2, Oklahoma 0
LSU's Aaron Nola got the better of Oklahoma's Jonathan Gray in the two aces' highly-anticipated pitching showdown Friday night in Baton Rouge, La.
Nola spun an absolute gem, giving up only two hits and striking out six in a shutout performance that put his Tigers one game away from a trip to Omaha.
Gray, who was selected by the Colorado Rockies with the No. 3 overall pick in Thursday's MLB draft, was just as strong for most of the game, matching Nola pitch-for-pitch and holding a dangerous LSU lineup in check for the first seven innings.
The game got away from Gray in the eighth. LSU's JaCoby Jones started off with a one-out triple, then sophomore Tyler Moore brought him in with a double to deep right. After a lineout to short put the second out on the board, Mark Laird connected for his third hit of the day to make it 2-0.
That was the support Nola needed, as he sat the Sooners down in order in the top of the ninth to pick up his 12th win.
Gray finished with two runs on five hits and nine strikeouts through 7⅓ innings.
LSU and Oklahoma face off again at 7 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2.
UCLA 5, Cal State Fullerton 3 (10 innings)
A two-run 10th inning by UCLA stymied a valiant comeback bid from Cal State Fullerton and put the Bruins in the driver's seat in the Fullerton super regional.
After beginning the top of the 10th with a strikeout, UCLA strung together three consecutive singles to take the lead and put men on the corners with one out. A sacrifice fly from Pat Valaika, who was selected by the Red Sox in the ninth round earlier on Friday, made the final score, 5-3.
Heading into the bottom of the eighth inning with UCLA up, 3-1, it appeared as though it would be a much earlier night, but a hit-by-pitch and walk to begin the frame put two and no out for the Titans. Two sacrifice plays later had the score, 3-2, with a man on third. All-American Michael Lorenzen then legged out an infield single to allow the tying run to cross the plate.
Cal State Fullerton's freshman phenom Justin Garza wasn't as sharp usual, allowing three runs off of five hits and struggling with command at times. Despite the struggles, he still managed to grit out a solid seven-inning, six-strikeout performance.
David Berg picked up the win for the Bruins, giving up one run in three innings of relief.
UCLA and Cal State Fullerton return to action at 10 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2.
The Chapel Hill and Raleigh super regions were also set to begin Friday, but a tropical storm moving up the East Coast postponed both of the series until Saturday.