BATON ROUGE -- A seven-run seventh inning and a career-high 10 strikeouts by LSU starter Austin Ross lifted the Tigers to a 10-2 victory over fourth-seeded Southern in Game 1 of the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional Friday at Alex Box Stadium.
The Tigers (47-16) will face Baylor, a 5-0 winner over Minnesota, at 6 p.m. CT on Saturday. Southern (30-16) will face the Minnesota-Baylor loser at 1 p.m. CT Saturday.
Live video of all games is available on CST and at www.LSUsports.net/live.
With the win, LSU is now 19-0 all-time in NCAA Regional opening games at home.
“I knew this was going to be a hard-fought game,” LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said. “Southern played a fantastic seven or eight innings there and I’ll be happy if we never see another lefty (Chase Richard) like Southern threw today.”
Ross had a great outing, allowing two runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out 10. Ross tied his career high for strikeouts in a game, a mark he set on March 1 of this season against Central Florida.
The winning pitcher for LSU was Paul Bertuccini (2-0). Bertuccini pitched 1.1 innings and allowed no runs and no hits and struck out two.
Southern jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning when second baseman Ozzie Lamis singled up the middle on the opening pitch. The next batter, designated hitter Victor Franklin blasted Ross’ delivery over the wall in right.
Two batters later, right fielder Brad McDavid tripled, but was held at third when Ross struck out the final two batters of the inning to end the Jaguar threat in the first.
Richard, the Southern starter, held the Tigers scoreless through the first five innings until Schimpf doubled to lead off the sixth, stole third base and scored on a throwing error by catcher Michael Thomas to make the score 2-1.
Ross left the game in the top of the seventh with two outs, giving way to Bertuccini. Bertuccini struck out Franklin with two Jaguars in scoring position to end the inning.
After first baseman Sean Ochinko singled to lead off the seventh, Chris McGhee entered the game as a pinch runner and reached second on a sacrifice bunt by Tyler Hanover. Two batters later, shortstop Austin Nola singled up the middle to score McGhee and tie the game at 2-2.
Richard (6-4) left the game after Nola’s single, giving way to right-hander Kyle Wahl.
The Tigers took a 3-2 lead when the next batter, LeMahieu singled home Nola and reached second on a fielding error by Southern centerfielder Toddrick Stevenson. Schimpf followed with a single up the middle to score LeMahieu and put LSU ahead 4-2.
Blake Dean then singled to left, advancing Schimpf to third. Dean moved up to second on the throw to third. The next batter, Micah Gibbs, lined a shot at first baseman Frazier Hall that was ruled an error. Schimpf and Dean scored on the play, giving LSU a 6-2 advantage.
Gibbs moved up to second when Mikie Mahtook was hit by a pitch. Both Gibbs and Mahtook scored on a liner by pinch hitter Derek Helenihi. Helenihi was thrown out at third on the play to end the Tigers’ rally with the score at 8-2.
LSU continued scoring in the eighth when Hanover led off the inning with a triple off the wall in right-center field and scored on a double by Jared Mitchell, putting the Tigers ahead 9-2. LeMahieu singled home Mitchell to give the Tigers a 10-2 lead.
LSU 10, Southern 2 (May 29, 2009 at Baton Rouge, La.)
Southern............ 200 000 000 - 2 7 4 (30-16)
LSU................... 000 001 72X - 10 14 1 (47-16)
Pitchers: Southern - Chase Richard; Kyle Wahl(7); Mitchell Henderson(8); Jared Cozart(8);
LSU - Austin Ross; Paul Bertuccini(7); Buzzy Haydel(9).
Win-Paul Bertuccini(2-0) Loss-Chase Richard(6-4) T-2:42 A-9874
HR SU - Victor Franklin (11).
Actual attendance: 8,641
COZART,J. faced 1 batter in the 8th.
LSU HEAD COACH PAUL MAINIERI
“I think now that you believe me that it was going to be a hard-fought, close game. I knew it would be. I’ll tell you what. Southern played so well for six or seven innings there, not just (Chase) Richard pitching but the plays they made behind him were unbelievable like the center fielder (Toddrick Stevenson) running the ball down that (DJ) LeMahieu hit and the shortstop (Jesse Olivar) was making every play. They looked really good. We hit some balls hard, but he was frustrating us. If we never see another one of those kind of guys in the rest of our lives, we’ll be really happy. He kept us off balance. We hit some balls hard. They made the plays, but that’s why you play nine innings. When we were down 2-0, and it wasn’t looking so great, I was like, ‘Thank goodness this is a nine inning game.’
“I felt confident that we would eventually get to them. Fortunately, Austin Ross kept us in the game. They scored two runs in the first three pitches, and then he absolutely pitched fantastic the rest of the way, which is not an easy thing to do for a pitcher when he gives up runs early to regroup and hold them down. Schimpf gave us the big boost when he hit the double and then stole third and came home on the errant throw, making something happen there. Then, Austin Nola had the big hit of the game and the biggest hit of the year, and we were able to tack on and go on to victory. We’re glad we got it behind us, and now we can look forward.”
On energizing the crowd in the seventh inning...
“The crowd got fired up. That was great, but we didn’t give the crowd much to get fired up about. They were searching for something to get excited about. That was a good inning for us, and we had just reached a point in the game when I said, ‘Let’s go boys with a little sense of urgency now. It’s time for us to make something happen.’ We had some really good at-bats and wore out the middle of the diamond there. Early in the game with Richard, I was sitting there, and I thought I was watching Ryan Byrd pitch against Vanderbilt (SEC Tournament Championship game). The kid was pitching the game of his life I assume because he did not make a bad pitch in the first four innings of the game. He was hitting every spot. When he threw his first pitch as a breaking ball, he was getting it over for strikes. He was doing everything I’m sure he wanted to do, and it was very frustrating to us. When we did hit the ball hard, I thought the wind really affected the ball that LeMahieu hit to deep left center, and I think we hit some balls really hard right at people, and their kids were making the plays.
“You have to give them credit. My concern was that the team just wouldn’t get frustrated. We knew we had a nine-inning game. We were getting into the later innings, so there needed to be a little sense of urgency, but I felt that if we continued to have a good approach at the plate, sooner or later we’d get some breaks. Next thing you know, we hit a few balls up the middle just out of the reach of their infielders, and some good things started to happen for us.”
LSU PLAYER QUOTES
P Austin Ross
“The first three hits scored two runs. The first guy hit the first pitch as a ground ball to the middle. The next guy hit the ball out the park. After that I kind of beared down and knew I had to keep them there and give our team a chance to win. I knew that if I kept us there our lineup would eventually score some runs and get something going. I told myself don’t let them get anymore and we’ll be all right.”
On feelings going into the game...
“You always hear that if guys throw a really good bullpen before the game, then they won’t have the best performance in the game and vice versa. I probably threw the best pregame bullpen that I’ve thrown all year. I went out at first and really didn’t feel it was all there. I had the breaking ball, but my fast ball command wasn’t the same as it was in the bullpen. I had to fight that all day, but I was fortunate that my breaking ball was working well and could use that as an out pitch.”
On starting the first game of the regional...
“I treated it like any other start I’ve had this year. I knew that Southern was a really aggressive team, and I was going to try to use that to our advantage.”
LF/1B Ryan Schimpf
“Leading off into the seventh inning I was trying to get something going for the team and try to get on base somehow to get something started. I got to second base and was trying to pick up the pitcher’s move and felt like I got a pretty good time on him, and Coach (Javi) Sanchez gave me the sign and I got a good jump and were fortunate enough to have a ball go to the outfield and get something going there. We wouldn’t have been in the situation like that if Austin (Ross) hadn’t held them. Austin did an awesome job of holding them at 2 runs and got big hits from Austin (Nola) when we needed them. ”
On Southern’s approach to today’s game...
“They’re a tough team to play. They’re a great hitting team. They swing hard and are very fundamentally sound. They make good plays. You have to have a lot of respect for them on how they play the game.”
On playing with aggression in seventh inning...
“Coach Javi Sanchez always tells me that he wants to see me have a read on my own this year. I’ve always been indecisive on that. I just saw Blake (Dean) got a hit off the end of the bat and that it was pretty in front of him, so I decided on my own to take the fight to him and force them to make a play.”
SS Austin Nola
“I really wasn’t thinking about anything except that I flushed the first two at- bats, and I knew I needed to get on base. The main thing was I thinking about was to battle and make the pitcher throw as many pitches as he could. Everything worked out well.”
On difficulty in remaining patient with pitcher...
“Like Coach (Maineri) said, we had to see a lot of pitches and do our job by trying to get on base for the big guys in the middle of the lineup like Ryan (Schimpf) and Blake (Dean). He was pitching great and kept the ball down. He would mix it up with the curve ball and that was about it. He did well.”
SOUTHERN HEAD COACH ROGER CADOR
“We played 6 1/3 innings of good baseball and had a multitude of opportunities to really score some runs with men sitting on third base with one out and we couldn’t make it happen. It goes back to what has been our problem all year in getting guys in from third with less than two outs. We brought in our ‘guy’, Kyle Wahl, and he’s been there all year for us. But he never told us he hurt his foot in the bullpen. It was unfortunate that he went out there and didn’t tell us he was injured. If he had told us he was injured, we could have done something different. It’s unfortunate that we endured that type of situation, but hopefully tomorrow we’ll come back and play a better game.”
On the starting pitcher in the Saturday game...
“Jared Maloy will go tomorrow and hopefully he can give us a good outing and keep the ball down in the zone. The ball flies out of this park pretty good so you have to pitch down in the zone and keep people off-balance in order to have a chance to win. Jared throws a lot of ground balls so we ought to be in pretty good shape.”
On the decision to take P Chase Richard out of the game...
“It was difficult. You want to keep a guy in who has thrown well, but in this heat and with that level of competition you want to try and play a percentage. (LSU 2B D.J.) LeMahieu was up to bat and he had done well against (Richard) today and we had P Kyle Wahl in there to get ahead and get a good slider on him. HE hit the ball up the middle on a pretty good 3-2 pitch and knocked it in and then the next guy got a hit. At that point, all hell broke loose.”
On P Kyle Wahl’s foot injury...
“He never told me. I asked him what happened and he said he hurt his foot in the bullpen and I asked him why didn’t he tell me. That’s the kind of thing you have to be conscious of with young people. They think they can carry the world on their shoulders when it’s a team effort. He was hurt and we had P Daniel Garcia that we could have brought in at that point. Daniel would have served us well had we known Kyle was injured.”
On what P Chase Richard did that was most effective...
“He had been our midweek pitcher all year and had done really well. The thing that made him effective was that he threw a lot of first-pitch strikes and he had a good breaking pitch and a decent straight change. He did extremely well in that regard, and he stayed away in the strike zone. I think he came in once all game and it was against (LSU SS Austin) Nola and he got him to pop up. He stayed away all game long and was extremely effective. The umpire was really consistent with the strike zone and Chase found his comfort zone and wa able to go back to it whenever he needed to.”
On how the team’s mentality will change in an elimination game...
“The mentality is always there. You have to go out and hit and score runs, pitch and defend. We fell apart in the seventh inning. That’s what good teams do – they put the pressure on. And if you’re not ready through every pitch, those are the kinds of things that happen. You have to give LSU credit, that’s why they’re the number-two or number-three team in the country. They just stayed close and lurked and waited for their opportunity... and when they saw it, they jumped on us.”
SOUTHERN PLAYER QUOTES
P Chase Richard
On his overall performance today ...
“I went out in the first inning didn’t have much pressure when Victor (Franklin) hit the two-run home run. I was able to go out there and keep LSU off balance. I tried to make them swing at pitches and that seemed to work early in the game.”
On when he found out he was pitching and how he prepared ...
“I found out this morning that I would pitch. I’ve pitched against LSU early this season and last year. I was going into the game pitching my game like I have done all season. I found the zone which was down low and away. I luckily had my good stuff today and was able to pitch that for 6.2 innings.”
On how he was feeling on the relief ...
“I felt alright, I fell into 97 pitches and LeMahieu ( DJ) was up and he was hitting against me pretty good today. We felt that Whal (Kyle) could come in and get that last out we needed.”
DH Victor Franklin
On his two-run home run ...
“It was a great feeling but at the end of the day it was irrelevant. We had to drive in more runs but we were unable to do so. It helped to get the tempo started but we did not capitalize when we should have.”
On the early lead in the first inning ...
“Early in the season we started off the game leading opponents two or three runs. We started off leading with two run but the Tigers were in their stadium with their fans. We had a nice push that gave us an opening that we should have took advantage of. We had a mind set that since we were up Chase (Richard) could throw some good pitches and we would be able to drive more runs in. We did it in the beginning we just didn’t come through in the end.”
On competing against a team like LSU, which is another inter-state school ...
“Some guys are just happy to be here. Don’t mistake me, we are very happy to be here. Our guys showed today that we deserve to be here we’ve showed that in the SWAC Tournament. We showed a little bit of resiliency at the end of the game. We have a few seniors on this team that have never been here, so we are not going home early. We need to play as hard as we can. We will put everything behind each other and roll with it.”
LSU-SOUTHERN POST-GAME NOTES
- After Friday’s loss, the Southern Jaguars, playing in its eighth regional are 3-15 (.167) in NCAA Regionals.
- SU head coach Roger Cador said his probable starter for Saturday’s 1 p.m. loser’s bracket game is junior right-hander Jarrett Maloy. Maloy brings an 8-2 record into the regionals with a 3.14 ERA in 66 innings. He’s given up 73 hits, walked 15 and recorded 47 strikeouts.
- In two appearances against LSU, SU left-hander Chase Richard has pitched 10 2/3 innings, surrendered 15 hits, given up 7 runs (6 earned) with 4 walks and 2 strikeouts. He’s 0-2 against LSU in 2009.
- LSU is in its 23rd NCAA tournament appearance and the Tigers’ 10-2 win improved their overall NCAA record to 113-4 (.720). LSU’s regionals/sub-regionals record is 74-17 (.813).
- The actual attendance of 8.641 is a new Baton Rouge Regional record. It beat the 2008 NCAA Super Regional record of 8,173 set against UC-irvine. The paid attendance in Friday’s first-round game against Southern was 9,874.