Nola Tosses Two-Hit Shutout in Super Regional Opener
Director of Digital Media
BATON ROUGE -- While LSU starter Aaron Nola was in the midst of a two-hit complete-game shutout, JaCoby Jones hit an eighth-inning triple and broke a scoreless tie on a double by Tyler Moore, as the Tigers won game 1 of the NCAA Super Regional, 2-0, over Oklahoma.
LSU (56-9) advanced within one game of its 16th College World Series appearance and first since 2009. Game 2 of the best-of-three series is set for Saturday at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN2, WatchESPN.com and the LSU Sports Radio Network.
Ryan Eades (8-1, 2.81 ERA) will get the start for LSU, while lefty Dillon Overton (9-2, 2.91 ERA) is set to take the mound for Oklahoma. The pair were taken 20 picks apart in the second round of the Major League Baseball Draft on Thursday night, with Eades taken 43rd by the Minnesota Twins and Overton 63rd by the Oakland Athletics.
NCAA Super Regional Central
Nola (12-0) was magnificent on the mound, tossing his fifth complete game of the season with no walks and six strikeouts. He hit a batter in the second inning, but picked him off first base.
Nola was only touched for a leadoff double in the left-field gap by Sooners cleanup hitter Matt Oberste in the fifth inning and a two-out single by designated hitter Colt Bickerstaff in the eighth. Oberste was bunted to third but went no further, as Nola got a strikeout and chopper on the infield to end the threat.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma starter Jonathan Gray (10-3), who was the third overall selection in the Major League Baseball Draft on Thursday night, kept up to his end of the pitchers' duel. Gray allowed three hits over the first 7 1/3 innings before his pitch count - and fastball - started to rise.
With one out in the bottom of the eighth, Jones broke through against the hard-throwing righty with his first triple of the season into the right-centerfield gap. In the next at-bat, Moore, pinch hitting for Andrew Stevenson, connected for a double over Oklahoma right fielder Taylor Alspaugh’s outstretched glove, putting the Tigers in front 1-0 and sending Gray to the showers after 118 pitches.
With a 2-0 advantage in the ninth, Nola shut the door retiring the Sooners in order and marking his fifth complete game performance on the season. Nola threw 102 pitches including 77 for strikes. In the process, the SEC Pitcher of the Year lowered his ERA to 1.68.
Oklahoma (43-20) saw its eight-game winning streak come to an end in front of a record crowd of 11,095 on a pleasant evening at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
POSTGAME NOTES – GAME 1 SUPER REGIONAL – LSU 2, OKLAHOMA 0
- The attendance for the opening game of the Super Regional was 12,007 (paid) and 11,095 (actual). The actual is an Alex Box Stadium Skip Bertman Field record, topping the 10,752 set last Saturday, June 1, against Sam Houston State in the regional round.
- With the win, LSU now has a record of 6-4 in first games of the Super Regional. The record at either Alex Box Stadium is 5-2, 3-0 in the new ABS-SBF.
- LSU is now 56-9, winners of seven straight games, dating back to the SEC Tournament, while Oklahoma drops to 43-20 and this loss stopped an eight-game winning streak for the Sooners.
- LSU is 131-49 in NCAA Tournament play. The win was Paul Mainieri’s 25th NCAA post-season win at LSU.
- JaCoby Jones’ triple that would eventually score the technical winning run was his first of the season.
- Aaron Nola pitched his fifth complete game of the season and since giving up five runs in the first inning last Saturday against Sam Houston State, he has pitched 15 consecutive scoreless innings in running his record to 12-0.
- The last complete game pitched by LSU Tiger in an NCAA Tournament post-season game was a 4-0, five-hit shutout in 2004 Super Regional (game2) by Lane Mestepey).
- The last time LSU pitching allowed just two hits in an NCAA Tournament game was the 2000 Game 1 of the Super Regional against UCLA, 8-2. LSU has never thrown a two-hit shutout in NCAA until tonight.
- The last complete game two-hit shutout by an LSU pitcher was by Louis Coleman on May 2, 2009 at Arkansas, 5-0.
- Aaron Nola’s outing marked the first shutout by an LSU pitcher in an NCAA Tournament game since Lane Mestepey defeated Texas A&M, 4-0, on June 13, 2004 in Game 2 of the NCAA Super Regional in Alex Box Stadium. Mestepey fired a five-hitter and threw 108 pitches.
- Nola’s shutout was the fifth by an LSU pitcher in the Tigers’ NCAA Tournament history – the others were recorded by Brett Laxton vs. Wichita State on June 12, 1993 (CWS Championship Game); Kurt Ainsworth on May 31, 1999 vs. East Carolina (NCAA Baton Rouge Regional Championship Game); Justin Meier on June 4, 2004 vs. Army (NCAA Baton Rouge Regional first round game); and Lane Mestepey vs. Texas A&M on June 13, 2004 (NCAA Baton Rouge Super Regional Game 2).
- LSU allowed only two hits in an NCAA Tournament game for the second time in its history. The first time occurred on June 2, 2000 when the Tigers defeated UCLA, 8-2, in Game 1 of the NCAA Super Regional in Alex Box Stadium. Brian Tallet and Weylin Guidry combined on the two-hitter for LSU.Aaron Nola tied the LSU record for single-season shutouts with three – the other LSU pitchers with three shutouts in one season were Randy Wiles (1970), Ben McDonald (1989) and Brian Tallet (2000).
- The Sooners’ winning streak ended at eight games, the third longest win streak of the season.
- Head Coach Sunny Golloway has coached OU to a 24-18 record in the NCAA Tournament since 2005.
- The game marked the 10th meeting with LSU. The Tigers lead the all-time series, 7-3, since meeting for the first time in 1962.
- Oklahoma is 79-68 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
- Max White passed assistant coach Rich Hills (1992-95) for second all-time in games played at OU with 238…he is now one behind Keith Drumright (1973-76) for most all-time.
- In the fifth inning, Jonathan Gray passed Geoff Geary (1998) for third most strikeouts in a season with 143…he later tied Daniel McCutchen (2006) for the second most all-time at 147 in the eighth.
- For the second straight game, the Sooners sent the minimum to the plate in the first four innings.
- Oklahoma played in front of a crowd over 10,000 (11,095) for the first time since the 2010 College World Series against South Carolina (24,180).
- The Sooners are 15-16 when their opponent scores first and 1-19 when trailing after eight innings.
- Gray threw more than 100 pitchers for the 15th time in 17 starts.
- He totaled nine strikeouts or more for the eighth time and he has struck out 32 batters in his last 25.1 innings pitched.
- The Sooners were shutout for just the third time this season…the last against Dallas Baptist, 2-0, on April 30.
- Game 2 is scheduled for 6 p.m. CDT Saturday and will be televised ESPN2
LSU vs. Oklahoma
NCAA Baton Rouge Super Regional
June 7, 2013
LSU Head Coach Paul Maineri
“It was everything that everyone expected it to be. It was as great of a pitching duel as you’ll ever see. On one hand you have a guy who was picked the third pick in the draft in Jonathan Gray and on the other hand you have Aaron Nola. Our guys have looked forward to facing Gray but people might forget that we had a pretty good pitcher as well. I wouldn’t trade him for anyone in the world. He was fantastic tonight and we’ve seen this before. He pitched a typical game for him. Even though he dominated the game, I still thought it was a tremendous team effort. Gray threw so many sliders and he could throw them for strikes. It was tough for our guys but they never stopped battling. I told Jacoby (Jones) that he was seeing the ball well tonight and he would eventually get to him. He then hit the ball in the gap at the perfect time. Tyler (Moore) was ready and fortunately they made a pitching change to let him regroup. I thought Mark Laird had a tremendous effort it and it was a great team win. Aaron only threw six strikeouts and our defense played great behind him. I thought (Alex) Bregman came back tremendously from struggling last week on defense. We are one down and we still have another one.”
On the atmosphere…
“Anybody that hasn’t been to Alex Box Stadium for a game like this needs to put it on their bucket list. You haven’t lived until you experience this with the crowd and the atmosphere. I thought it was a very crisply played game that did college baseball really proud tonight. There’s no other place like Alex Box Stadium so that’s the kind of game that should have been played here. It was an awesome ball game.”
On Tyler Moore stepping up…
“He’s had a knack for getting big hits for us his whole career. I’m just so proud for Tyler. He’s watching the whole game but not as a fan. He’s studying the pitcher knowing that we may call on him. It’s a sign of a great team that they are so unselfish. Our players that aren’t in the game stay ready mentally and physically just in case they are called on.”
On Mark Laird’s performance…
“I’m just so proud of Mark Laird. I’ve believed in him from the day he has walked on this field. I believe he will only get better. He is a great athlete and a good kid. He’s got the it factor and it’s something you can’t describe. He has that extra something. He’s kind of lost in the background but I think he is a great player and has a great career ahead of him.”
LSU Player Quotes
SOPHOMORE P AARON NOLA
On giving up a leadoff double in the top of the fifth inning …
“That leadoff double is definitely a momentum changer for the other team, but my goal was just to not let that run score. Me and Ty (Ross) talked about that when he came during that mound visit. He said, ‘Don’t let this run score.’ That bunt was real big. We made that first out, and I was looking for that strikeout. Fortunately, I got a chop to second. That was a big momentum changer for us after that third out.”
On facing off in a pitcher’s duel against Oklahoma’s Jonathan Gray …
“Coming into the game, I knew it was going to be a pitcher’s duel. All (Jonathan) Gray has done this year is been outstanding. Our whole team knew it was going to be a pitching duel, and we were going to get deep in the game, both of us. We just needed that clutch hit. JaCoby (Jones) provided that for us, and Tyler (Moore) came through for us.”
JUNIOR 2B JaCOBY JONES
On his key triple in the bottom of the eighth inning …
“Well, I told Coach Jav (Sanchez), in the dugout before I got up to bat, that I was going to sit on a slider. He threw me a first pitch slider, and I didn’t swing at it. I was kind of disappointed at myself. Then, he came back with a fastball on the outside corner when I was down 0-2. I know my hands are fast, and I just trusted my hands. He threw a fastball over the plate, I got the barrel to the ball and it went in the gap.”
“I was going to sit on the slider until I got two strikes because he was pounding the zone with all of his sliders. We were just swinging away. He pitched great with his off-speed pitches. Then, he’d come back with his fastball. I just trusted my hands and got the barrel to the ball as I said. I was sitting on the slider before I got two strikes, but after that I was just trying to battle and get on base.”
INF TYLER MOORE
On his clutch pinch-hit, go-ahead RBI double in the bottom of the eighth inning …
“Well, you know JaCoby (Jones) came up big, and that was a huge momentum booster for us. I just used that to carry over into my at bat. Coach told me, ‘Don’t be afraid to do something with the slider. He may come at you early with it.’ That’s exactly what he did, and I just tried to put a good swing on it, lift it and get it into the outfield to at least score the run on a sac fly. It ended up going over his head.”
On his emotions before his go-ahead RBI double in the eighth inning …
“Ever since you’re a little kid, those are the moments that you dream of. You dream of getting the big hit to win the game. Really, all of these guys are prepared for that kind of moment. We’re so close together this year, and we want to do it for each other. Each at bat is just as important as the big at bat, and really just battling and trying to hit every pitch.”
Oklahoma Coach Sunny Golloway
“What a tremendous college baseball game. We tip our cap to [Aaron] Nola and the way he threw the baseball. We’re extremely proud of Jonathan Gray and the way that he threw the baseball for our program today. We’ve grown accustomed to expect nothing less from 'Big Jon.' We kept a close eye on the pitch count and it looked like [Aaron] Nola was winning the pitch count contest throughout the game and that was getting to be a bit of a concern. Really what it came down to was a man on third with less than two outs. [Aaron] Nola got a punch out when we needed to make contact and they brought the infield in and their guy hit a good pitch. I thought [Jonathan Gray] had one strike and I thought he made a really good pitch. You’ve got to tip your cap sometimes. They got the hit when they needed to right there with a man at third – just trying to hit a fly ball, which is what we needed to do earlier in the game in a pitching duel. In summation, it’s just a great environment to play for college athletes and one heck of a college baseball game. I’m glad the country got to see it.”
On Jonathan Gray’s pitching performance…
“We had made a decision going into the eighth that that would be his last inning. You’ve got to understand what the young man has gone through. Last week, threw 129 pitches in a first round win at Blacksburg and his last pitch was 102 [miles per hour]. So even though he’s big and strong and he can do it, he’s gone through the whole week, from a mental standpoint, where he was going to be drafted. He found out yesterday and whether you like it or not, that takes its toll on you mentally and physically. He had just done too good of a job and we’ve got a very good bullpen, so we were going to try to let “Big Jon” go through it. When I went and made a mound visit, it was just real simple. It was ‘let’s not give them anything to hit, let’s go for the strikeout, expand the zone if we can a little bit.’ He made a great first pitch and just lost the second pitch. We’re not going to fault “Big Jon” – not after what he’s done for us all year. We teach our guys we take the good with the bad and vice versa. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but you come back tomorrow and you play hard, so that’s exactly what we plan on doing.”
On his pitching plan for game two…
“We’ll start Dillon Overton, our No. 2 left-hander who was drafted in the second round. He’s got that behind him and he’ll sleep well tonight, and hopefully he slept well last night, and he’ll be ready to go. He’s looked stronger. He’s coming off a bit of a forearm strain which probably kept him from getting drafted in the first round. He’s a very good, quality pitcher and I know for game two, we’ve got two second-rounders going. That’s pretty impressive after seeing what we just saw.”
Oklahoma University Player Quotes
P Jonathan Gray
On JaCoby Jones’ hit…
“We were 0-2. I was going to throw a fastball, but I left the ball up. I threw it too close in the zone and it got hit.”
On his pitching strategy for tonight…
“My pitching strategy was to mix early. I wanted to mix all my pitches early and slow the hitters’ bats down. We had them [LSU] right where we wanted them. I just did not throw a couple of pitches with conviction like I wanted to.”
On the pitching duel and atmosphere…
“They had a great lineup. The crowd was pretty loud, and it obviously favored them [LSU]. It was a great game for both sides. We battled hard and they battled hard, but, they ended up on top. It was a good game. Out on the field it is very loud. It is hard to hear each other. We knew it was going to be like this so we worked on it in practice. We definitely started communicating and looking at each other more.”
1B Matt Oberste
On what the loss means…
“We need to get over it pretty quick because we need to come back tomorrow. You know, it is a three-game series and you have to win two. Jonathan [Gray] did a good job of throwing. We have to do a better job as hitters to get runs across.”