LSU routed Oklahoma Saturday night to clinch their spot in Omaha. With Vanderbilt's second loss of the tournament coming earlier in the day and North Carolina needing yet another walk-off win, the Tigers are looking more-and-more like the team to beat in this year's College World Series. In other tournament news, N.C. State walked-off against Rice, and Kansas State pulled off an improbable comeback to surprise Oregon State.
LSU 11, Oklahoma 1
LSU wins series 2-0, advances to College World Series.
Jacoby Jones had a monster night for LSU, going 4-for-4 with three runs, two RBI and a homer, as the Tigers pulled away from Oklahoma to become the first team to secure its spot in the 2013 College World Series.
The Sooners got on the board first with a run in the opening inning, taking advantage of a shaky start from LSU's Ryan Eades. Eades would settle down after the second, however, surrendering just the one run over his four innings of work. He was lifted after a lengthy weather delay stalled the game in the top of the fifth.
LSU tied the game in the second, then used runs in the third, fourth, sixth and eighth innings to build a 5-1 lead. They then blew the game off its hinges with a six-run ninth that saw the Tigers record five hits and bat around the lineup. At that point it was more of a victory lap than an inning of baseball, as one player-after-another came around to score, delighting a raucous Alex Box Stadium that was packed to the brim with a standing-room-only crowd. Seniors Raph Rhymes and Alex Edward both recorded RBI hits in their last at-bats in Baton Rouge, and both were saluted with standing ovations after being subbed out of the game.
It's been an up-and-down season for Jones, who was selected by the Pirates in the third round of the MLB Draft but failed to show his talent for much of the 2013 season. LSU fans aren't complaining now, however; Jones finished the Baton Rouge regional 5-for-8 and hit for the cycle over the last two games.
N.C. State 4, Rice 3
N.C. State leads series 1-0.
N.C. State sophomore Jake Fincher capped a ninth-inning rally with a walk-off single to left field as the Wolfpack battled back to take Game 1 of the Raleigh super regional on Saturday afternoon.
It looked like it was all over for N.C. State in the top of the ninth when Rice's Christian Stringer doubled to right field to bring in the go-ahead run and put the Owls up 3-2. The Wolfpack jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, but let Rice chip their way back into it, and Stringer's shot looked like it would be the finishing touch on the comeback.
But a walk for N.C. State to start the bottom of the frame put the leadoff man on, and a steal and a throwing error sandwiched around a strikeout put the tying run on third with one out. After a walk put runners on the corners, a squeeze play tied the game at three. Two batters later Fincher's single ended the game.
N.C. State ace Carlos Rodon was solid, allowing three runs and striking out nine in 8⅓ innings.
Kansas State 6, Oregon State 2
Kansas State leads series 1-0.
With his team down to its final out and trailing 2-1 with the bases empty, Kansas State's Ross Kivett hammered a pitch deep into the right-center gap for a clutch triple. Senior Tanner Witt sent a line drive over the second baseman in the next at-bat, and all of a sudden the Wildcats had tied the game.
With the momentum fully on their side, they went on to score four runs in the top of the 10th, and just like that, Kansas State is now up 1-0 in the Corvallis super regional.
The improbable ninth-inning comeback came after Oregon State recorded a monster out in the previous inning to extinguish what looked to be K-State's last opportunity. Two walks and a single loaded the bases in the top of the eighth with only one out, but a strikeout and a groundout ended the threat.
The Beavers got on the board first when sophomore Michael Conforto belted a two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth inning. Kansas State pulled within one after a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch in the sixth, but grounded out to third to leave the bases juiced.
The game-tying RBI in the ninth was one of three on the night for Witt, who finished 3-for-6.