Baseball Advances Past Jackson St., 11-7

LSU's Mason Katz hit his 13th home run of the year.
LSU's Mason Katz hit his 13th home run of the year.
Steve Franz
Seth Landry
Seth Landry

Game 1: LSU def. Jackson St., 11-7
Game 2: Sam Houston St. def. UL-Lafayette, 4-2

Updated on Bregman and Rhymes:
LSU coach Paul Mainieri said Friday night that LSU shortstop Alex Bregman was examined by doctors Friday afternoon, and it was determined that he did not suffer a fracture in his face. Bregman also passed all of the concussion tests that were administered.

Bregman will be checked again by doctors Saturday morning, and his playing status for Saturday’s 7 p.m. game vs. Sam Houston State will be determined at some time prior to first pitch.

Game 1: LSU def. Jackson St., 11-7

BATON ROUGE -- Mason Katz was 2-for-2 with three runs and four RBI, as the top-seeded LSU baseball team (53-9) went against the script but advanced past Jackson State on Friday afternoon at Alex Box Stadium, 11-7.

Already without the services of outfielder Mark Laird for the game and starting pitcher Cody Glenn for the weekend, the Tigers suffered another blow when leftfielder Raph Rhymes collided with shortstop Alex Bregman on a fly ball that Bregman caught to end the top of the fourth. Each left the game, as Rhymes suffered a cut on his lip and received stitches, and Bregman left the facility to be evaluated.

"Maybe one of the more painful wins that we’ve had in our time," LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said. "We’re glad to win the game of course, but the biggest concern is Alex Bregman and Raph Rhymes with the collision. We’ll just pray and hope that they’re going to be okay and be able to get back to playing. It was a rough game. Nothing went by script today.

"Raph Rhymes could have continued to play in the game but I just chose to take him out of the game....Alex' situation is a little bit more concerning to us, quite frankly. He’s at the hospital right now and getting some tests done on the bones in his face."

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Meanwhile, LSU pitcher Kurt McCune (4-1) tossed the 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief of starter Ryan Eades. McCune allowed four hits with five strikeouts after entering a tie game in the third. The LSU offense then scored 10-unanswered runs to bust the game open. Katz' two-run homer to center capped a four-run fourth inning and put LSU ahead 8-2.

Jackson State starter Alexander Juday (7-5) allowed seven runs on six hits with two walks in the loss. Rightfielder Fred Hampton paced the Tigers with a 3-for-4 performance with a two-run home. Leadoff hitter Aneki Knowles was 4-for-5 with a run and an RBI.

On Saturday at 7 p.m., LSU will face Sam Houston State, a 4-2 winner of  Friday's nightcap against No. 2-seeded Louisiana-Lafayette.

Jackson State (34-21) will face UL-Lafayette at 2 p.m. Saturday.

After a 25-minute rain delay in the top of the first inning, Jackson State grabbed a 2-0 lead off Eades with a two-RBI double from center fielder Charles Tilery.

In the bottom of the frame, LSU right fielder Sean McMullen (3-for-4) led off with a single and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Katz for the Tigers' first of 10-unanswered runs. The Tigers evened the score in the bottom of the first on a Jackson State throwing error.

Katz delivered another sacrifice fly in the third, giving LSU a lead which it wouldn't relinquish, 3-2. Later in the inning, third baseman Christian Ibarra (2-for-5) connected for an RBI double.

LSU hitters kept swinging in the fourth with RBI from McMullen and pinch hitter Chris Sciambra. Katz then launched a towering blast off of the batter’s eye in center field for his team-leading 15th homer of the season. LSU extended its lead to 8-2. 

In the sixth, outfielder Jared Foster added a two-run shot of his own into the left field bleachers, marking his second home run of the season.

Jackson State showed a noble effort in the games’ latter innings with three runs in the eighth, and two runs in the ninth on Hampton's homer. LSU senior right-hander Joey Bourgeois stopped the Jackson State rally in the ninth with a shutout inning of work.

Game 1, Baton Rouge Regional, May 31, 2013

With 11-7 win: LSU overall NCAA Tournament record: 128-49 (best percentage in NCAA Tournament history); 81-19 in all-time regional games; 71-14 in tournament games played in Baton Rouge

With the 11-7 loss: Jackson State overall NCAA Tournament record is 0-9, and their 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning was the first lead Jackson State has held in any of their nine NCAA Tournament games.

LSU’s first NCAA Tournament game in Baton Rouge was May 22, 1986 in the South I Regional and was a 14-11 win over Jackson State. It was LSU’s second overall NCAA Tournament win. The first was a 7-2 win over Murray State in 1975 Regional in Starkville, Miss.

Jackson State designated hitter’s Aneko Knowles was 4-for-5, his first 4-hit game this season, and it was the 11th time a Jackson State had at least 4 hits in a game this season.


LSU senior first baseman tied a school single-game record with two sacrifice fly balls. The last player among many to tied the record was Austin Nola in an April, 2011 game at Tulane.

His 15th home run of the season, a two-run shot into the batter’s eye, gave LSU the lead at 4-2 in the 4th inning. His 15 are the most for an LSU hitter in a season since Matt Gaudet hit 19 during the 2010 season. The homer was Katz’s 32nd of his career.

His double in the 8th inning was his 13th of the season and the 51st of his four-year career, a number that puts him in 10th place in LSU all-time career standings. He passed former LSU All-America and Major Leaguer Aaron Hill (50) and Katz is one behind Clay Harris (52) in those standings.

Katz’s four RBI gives him 178 for this career.

Sean McMullin’s stolen base in the first inning was his first of the season.

Ryan Eades’ 2.1 innings was the shortest stint of the season for the junior righthander. He went 4 innings each against Ole Miss (May 18), at Alabama (April 20), and at Arkansas (April 13).

LSU played errorless ball for the 29th game in their 53-9 season.

Paid attendance 11,577 is the largest paid crowd for a regional game at the new Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field. The actual attendance was 9,316, the third-largest crowd for a regional game in the new stadium.


LSU Head Coach Paul Mainieri

Opening statement…
“I don’t know what adjective to use. Maybe one of the more painful wins that we’ve had in our time. We’re glad to win the game of course, but the biggest concern is Alex Bregman and Raph Rhymes with the collision. We’ll just pray and hope that they’re going to be okay and be able to get back to playing. It was a rough game. Nothing went by script today. Obviously Ryan [Eades] had a tough time with his command, and Kurt [McCune] came in and saved the day for the Tigers. He was phenomenal – just absolutely outstanding. This was the longest he’d thrown in a long, long time. The other guy that I think really stepped up for us off the bench was Jared Foster. Chris Sciambra came up and got a big hit for us, and Jared Foster had a big day hitting the homerun and a sacrifice fly. There were a lot of things that didn’t go so great today, but there were a lot of things that were also really outstanding. I’m really happy that some guys really rose to the occasion for our team. So we’re going to hopefully get through this thing – health-wise – and we’ll just dwell on the fact that we won the ballgame and we’re okay and move on to the big game tomorrow.”

On the collision between Alex Bregman and Raph Rhymes
“I’m not really concerned about concussions at all. Raph Rhymes could have continued to play in the game but I just chose to take him out of the game. He had a laceration on his lip and needed some stiches. He took a good blow to the nose so he might have a couple of black eyes – I don’t think his nose is broken or anything. There was no concussion or anything like that. I just felt that the heat and the shot to the head and everything, the best thing was just to get him out of the game. Alex [Bregman’s] situation is a little bit more concerning to us, quite frankly. He’s at the hospital right now and getting some tests done on the bones in his face and I haven’t heard any report yet, so that’s as much as I know.”

On LSU’s relief pitching performance…
“[Nate] Fury did a good job, I thought, and so did Joey Bourgeois. Kevin Berry didn’t and Hunter Newman didn’t. The only reason I took Kurt [McCune] out of the game was because of the balance of playing one at a time, and also knowing you’ve got a long tournament. There’s always a challenge. It’s more challenging because Cody Glenn is not with us. I thought that the game was not in hand but close to being in hand and we could get through two innings, the plan was to go with Kevin Berry for the eighth and [Hunter] Newman for the ninth. Kevin [Berry] got the first out and looked like he was throwing the ball pretty well and all of a sudden just kind of lost it. [Nate] Fury came in and I thought he did a really good job – got us out of the inning. I was going to start the ninth with [Nate] Fury, but I thought let’s try to save the pitches with him, especially after we tacked on the one additional run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Unfortunately, Hunter Newman walked the first batter and gave up a homerun and walked another batter. But Joey [Bourgeois] I thought did a great job.”


LSU Players’ Post Game Quotes


On his hitting performance against Jackson State…
“I just wanted to hit the ball on the ground and keep it out of the air. I didn’t want to do too much. I just wanted to get on base.”

On Jackson State’s pitcher…
“I think their pitcher did very well for them. All we were trying to do was keep the ball on the ground and out of the air. I think we did a pretty good job of that in this game. Hopefully we will carry it over to the next game.”


On his hitting performance…
“Pretty much every situation I came upon in the beginning was a man on third and one out. I had to hit a pop up or fly ball. Then on the homerun there was two outs and I was trying to hit the ball hard. I worked a pretty long count. Chris did the hard work with the first two out RBI. I was able to put one into the wind.”

On his home run…
“I worked a pretty long count. I took a couple good cuts. He was throwing a lot of changeups and getting guys up front. He did throw me a fastball earlier in the count. I fouled it straight back. I was still sticking to the approach to hit the ball to right center, I just tried to get that run in any way possible. The wind was blowing that way. I think it was a three-two count. He threw a fast ball in the middle and I was able to stick to my approach and fell right into what I wanted to do.”


On his pitching performance today…
“I am just really happy that I could help my team out today. I went in with the mindset to just get out of the inning. I never expected to go as long as I did. I am glad did because we were running low on arms. I am just thankful I could do that.”

On pitching multiple innings…
“I loved it. Being able to be out there for a couple innings helped me get into a groove and figure out what was working. I was able to see what pitches were working for me. I think I figured out a lot today.”


Jackson State Post Game Quotes

Head Coach Omar Johnson

Opening Statement
“They came out and played like the No. 1 team in the country. They did not make any mistakes; we anticipated that. We knew coming into the game that we were going to have to play a clean game to have an opportunity to win.”

On pitching plans for tomorrow…
“Well (Desmond) Russell will probably play tomorrow. We still have a couple of arms. We are not the most over powering bunch but these guys are going to throw strikes, you have seen how we pitch. If you don’t stay back and get on some pitches we are going to get you out. So again, Russell will throw tomorrow and we still have an outstanding chance.”

On Jackson State starting out aggressively…
“You always talk about trying to get a lead in the beginning. These guys play on momentum. So, getting a lead, getting up by one run early, gives these guys so much confidence. But, you have to consistently play throughout the game in order to win the nine-inning game.”

On a late game rally…
“We left too many out there. We left too many runs on base, but they kept chipping away. When they start getting a little erratic and we start taking pitches and getting base runners that’s when you know. If you look at the eighth or ninth inning when we had the tying run on deck that is a testament to these guys that they are not going to give up and they will keep battling.”

On LSU’s Kurt McCune
“He hit some spots. One thing about pitching is that it is not always about the velocity all the time. It is about him being able to locate well. (Kurt) McCune made some key pitches when he had to. When McCune struck our player with the bases loaded that was a big time play in the game. If he does not strike that player out right there with the bases loaded we possibly go up two. Because really, you take away the four errors, it is a tie game. You take away the homerun from (Mason) Katz we win. That is wishful thinking, but at the same time that is how a baseball game is played out. You cannot make mistakes and expect to beat the No. 1 team in the country.”

P Aneko Knowles

On his big day offensively…
“I’ve seen these type of pitchers all day and I knew I could have a day like today. I look it as just another pitcher on the mound and you just have to hit the ball.”

On possibly coming back…
“All year we’ve known that we just have to battle back and we could come back. We just had to get some hits back-to-back and we would be right back in it.”

P Alexander Juday

On his pitching…
“I didn’t locate very well today. I just wanted to come out and compete for our guys. I felt like I did that for the first two innings but after that I missed with some pitches and they squared off.”

OF Charles Tillery

On the big offensive day…
“I knew coming in I just had to get myself prepared to hit. I had to try and turn something around.”

On starting fast…
“Coming in we knew that we could do what we did. We’ve seen great pitching all year and we knew we could hit off of them.”

Game 2: Sam Houston St. def. UL-Lafayette, 4-2


With the win, Sam Houston State is now 38-20 overall and will play LSU in the 7 p.m. game on Saturday night. Sam Houston State will be the home team.

With the loss, Louisiana-Lafayette is now 41-19 and will play Jackson State in the 2 p.m. game on Saturday afternoon. Jackson State will be the home team.

Sam Houston State scored the winning runs in the seventh innings and made it stand up, and they are now 32-1 when leading after seven innings of play. Sam Houston State is now 8-14 in NCAA Regional games. This is the third time they have won the opening game of a regional.

Azar Anthony of Sam Houston was 2-for-5 and extended his present streak of reaching base to 13 games.

Seth Harrison, Louisiana-Lafayette’s leading hitter with nine bunt singles, picked up his ninth sacrifice bunt in the third inning moving him into a tie with Blake Trahan for team lead.

Dex Kjerstad extended his hitting streak to 14 games. He is now tied with Tyler Girouard and Ryan Leonards for team-high streak this season. Kjerstad increased his season hits total to 96 moving him within five hits of tying the single-season record 101 set by Nathan Nelson in 2000 … Kjerstad’s 2-for-5 performance marked his team-leading 31st multiple-hit game. Kjerstad has produced multiple hits in eight of the past nine contests, a streak that dates back to second game of South Alabama doubleheader on May 12

Reliever Matt Hicks made his team-leading 29th appearance taking over for Ryan Wilson in the sixth inning. Hicks is now one appearance shy of becoming the first Cajun pitcher with 30 appearances since Danny Farquhar (30) in 2007 ... The relief appearance by Matt Hicks was the 70th of his career. He is one appearance from moving into the Top 5 on the career charts for games pitched in school history

The two runs scored by the Ragin’ Cajuns marked the fewest since scoring two runs on April 13 at UALR (lost 7-2). Louisiana-Lafayette had scored five-plus runs each of the previous 13 games in May and entered the Baton Rouge Regional averaging 9.9 runs per game during the month.

The Ragin’ Cajuns began play in their 13th NCAA Baseball Championship appearance and ninth under the direction of Tony Robichaux. Louisiana is appearing in Baton Rouge for regional round competition for the first time since 2002

Louisiana-Lafayette had a two-game win streak in NCAA Regional round openers snapped with the 4-2 defeat. The Cajuns had won opening round games in 2007 at College Station and 2010 in Austin.

The paid attendance for tonight’s game was 10,886 and the actual was 3,851. The total for day one was 22,463 paid and 13,167 actual.

Sam Houston State Head Coach David Pierce

Opening statement…
“I just thought it was a pretty good ballgame. Both teams left some runners on base. Both teams competed well in the circumstances – the environment and excitement. I thought both teams played fairly loose. We really got a competitive job by Cody [Dickson]. I wouldn’t say it was his best outing, but he competed and gave us a chance the entire time. And Alan [Scott] was just lights out tonight, and he’s been doing that all year. Offensively, we had those timely hits that you always talk about. Luke [Plucheck] had a tremendous night. [Anthony] Azar had a great night. Just a great win for us and we’re ready to get some rest and move on to tomorrow night.”

On Cody Dickson’s pitching performance…
“The thing with Cody [Dickson] is that he’s such a worker and he’s such a preparer. He did a great job preparing. The breaking ball got away from him a little bit tonight, so we really stayed with the fastball and tried to spot it up in some spots to just keep them off of the fastball. He’s always ready to go and his arm works really well. The breaking ball got away from him, but for him to go into the sixth inning and pitch just under 100 pitches and get us to that point and get us out of the game, I thought he did a tremendous job of doing that.”

Sam Houston State Player Quotes

OF Luke Plucheck

On his hitting and defensive performance…
“Each at-bat was set up by the guy in front of me. The homerun just so happened to lead off the inning. I usually just try to get on base for the guy behind me. The other at-bats I just knew the same thing that I needed to get on base and try to create something for the team. Luckily, I came up to that situation at my third at-bat. I had the chance to drive in some runs to get us ahead. Luckily, I was able to get a pitch and hit it pretty hard. Everything worked out.”

On losing to Arkansas last season and learning from the experience…
“Everyone who returned in the dugout experienced that last season.  When they say experience plays a key role in hostile environments like this it’s true. We knew that Louisiana-Lafayette was going to travel well and have a lot of fans here. Louisiana-Lafayette is a resilient team. They wouldn’t go away. We jumped up early on them and they came right back and tied it up. A lot of it comes down to that game last year. It was heartbreaking. We had the game in hand and just let it slip away. We learned from it and we are excited about tomorrow.”

P Cody Dickson

On his pitching performance tonight…
“It wasn’t the greatest outing I would have liked to have. In the end we came out with a win. We are all excited about the next game.”

P Alan Scott

On relieving Cody Dickson…
“When I first came in it was just the same. I really find myself who can handle lefties pretty well. Cody was no big deal. As far as the rest of the game I made a commitment to myself that I was going to attack the plate and just go at it hard.”

Louisiana-Lafayette Head Coach Tony Robichaux 

On tonight’s game…
“First of all, I thought both of their kids threw really well. We just couldn’t really get on top of the ball throughout the night. We kept the game as close as we could. We could have trimmed at least one more run off of there with the dropped fly ball in centerfield. (Sam Houston State) got a critical hit at a critical time of the game. You have to give them credit. They played well. They played good defense. They pitched well. We did the same thing. We kept ourselves in the ball game. We could never really get the good lick at the right time that we got throughout the season. (Ryan) Wilson threw a great game. He gave us a great chance. Matt (Hicks) came in and got the double play off of the bunt to keep us right there. I thought Kendall (Mayer) threw well too and got some big outs. (Sam Houston State) got one critical hit at a critical time of the game and it did us in, but that is what happens when pitchers throw well and you play good defense behind them. (Sam Houston State) never let the game get away. We never let the game get away. It was a good baseball game. I just thought they got the critical hit at the critical time of the game. We have to work to survive and advance now.”

On the team’s pitching plans…
“We will probably go with Austin (Robichaux) tomorrow. We will come out and get after it and get ourselves back in this thing. This was not going to be an easy regional anyway. You are playing one of the better teams in the country in one of the toughest venues in the country. We didn’t fool ourselves and think this was going to be easy. We are going to get back in this thing tomorrow. These guys can hit and they will hit before this thing is over.”  

Louisiana-Lafayette Player Quotes

RF Dex Kjerstad

On his last at bat…
“I got under it too much and the guy just made a great play on the wall out there.”

On Sam Houston State’s starting pitcher…
“He was effectively wild there for a little while and it kept us off balance.

C Michael Strentz

On trying to get back in the game…
“At that point I had two strikes and I knew I had to get on top of the ball which was hard for us tonight. I just stuck with it and I knew I needed to get on base to get back in it. Their pitchers weren’t over powering but that’s just how baseball goes. Tomorrow we just need to work on getting on top of balls and getting back in this tournament.”

On Sam Houston’s big inning…
“The homerun was up and away and he just flipped his bat and got around it. On the double, he threw his bat around it and they scored two off of it.”




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