Baseball Rallies Past SLU in NCAA Opener, 8-4
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BATON ROUGE -- LSU rallied from a 4-2 deficit with six runs in its last two at bats to defeat Southeastern Louisiana, 8-4, in the opening game of the 2014 NCAA Baseball Regional at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
Top-seeded LSU (45-14-1) won its ninth-straight game and advanced to face No. 2-seed Houston, a 3-2 winner over No. 3-seed Bryant later Saturday.
Southeastern Louisiana (37-24), the Southland Conference Tournament Champions, had its six-game winning streak snapped despite breaking a 2-2 tie in the top of the sixth inning with a two-run home run by first baseman Sam Roberson.
The Lions fell into the loser's bracket on Saturday at 2 p.m. CT against Bryant.
Trailing 4-2 going to the bottom half of the seventh, shortstop Alex Bregman was hit by a pitch and designated hitter Sean McMullen walked with one out. Catcher Kade Scivicque poked a single past the shortstop and Bregman came around to score on a fielding error by the leftfielder. After the Lions inserted Matt Pittari for starter Andro Cutura, Tyler Moore singled to left field to score McMullen and knot the game at 4-4.
In the bottom of the eighth, LSU erupted for four runs on four hit to go along with two SLU errors.
With one out, Christian Ibarra reached second on a chopper that went about 10 feet from the plate when catcher Jameson Fisher over-threw first base. Mark Laird's third single of the game put runners on the corners, and Ibarra scored when Lions pitcher Dylan Hills' (6-4) attempted pickoff at first base bounced into right field. With a 5-4 lead, Laird scored when Bregman grounded out to the shortstop. Jake Fraley kept the rally alive with a single that was fielded by the first baseman before it could roll foul, and McMullen made the Lions pay for the mistake with a two-run homer to left-center field.
Southeastern led the game, 1-0, when right fielder Andrew Godbold smashed a solo home run off LSU starter Jared Poche' with two outs in the first inning.
The Tigers tied the game in the bottom of the second when Moore walked, advanced to second on a wild pitch by Cutura, moved to third on a groundout and scored on another wild pitch.
LSU took the lead for the first time, 2-1, when McMullen grounded out with runners on second and third in the bottom of the third inning.
Southeastern Louisiana scored the first of three unanswered runs in the top of the fifth, when Kyle Cedotal hit a one-out single and scored on a double by Jacob Williams to tie the game at 2-2.
In the sixth, Roberson hit a two-run home run off Poche' that put the Lions ahead 4-2, which they held until the bottom of the seventh.
Southeastern Louisiana vs. LSU
NCAA Baton Rouge Regionals
May 30, 2014
LSU Head Coach Paul Maineri
“I give a lot of credit to Southeastern. That’s a really good ball club. Their pitcher (Andro Cutura) was just outstanding. He was making tremendous pitches against our hitters in clutch situations, and he is a courageous kid. Ultimately, we came through with some huge hits. (Kade) Scivicque came through with a huge hit and ultimately Tyler (Moore) got the big RBI single to tie the ballgame. Things kind of unraveled for Southeastern there in the eighth inning with the errant throw by the catcher and the errant pickoff attempt. We took advantage of their errors with good base running. (Alex) Bregman and Sean (McMullen) came through when they made mistakes. Nate Fury also came through for us and allowed us to not use Joe (Broussard). All in all, it was a hard fought victory. I told our players after the game it reminded me of the 2009 game against Southern in the opening game of the regional. We ultimately were able to break the game open. That was a team that went on to win the national championship. We are happy with the victory and look forward to tomorrow night.”
On just trying to get the job done…
“We faced a really good ball club that is playing inspired baseball. Their pitcher was really tough and a tremendous challenge. I have a lot of confidence in our guys and know they will stay poised and composed. They have gone through a 30-game SEC schedule and they’ve navigated through some valleys. When you’ve had down days, you have to keep battling and believing in yourself.”
On learning from past NCAA games…
“We try to do everything to build our guy’s confidence. When you’re in this environment at LSU, there are such high expectations. You have to believe in yourself. As a team and individuals, you just can’t give up. It has been a tradition of our program to rally and do whatever it takes to win. We just had to grind this one out. At times, it wasn’t pretty, but we did what it took to win. I don’t think we played poorly; I give more credit to their pitcher. He really did a great job of limiting our guys, but we still had 14 hits on the day. It wasn’t a bad offensive day really.”
On Jared Poche'…
“It’s easy to say he didn’t play well after giving up four runs on eight hits. I would argue that he threw a lot of strikes. He came out from the beginning and pounded the strike zone. He made two bad pitches that they hit over the fence. I have to give credit to Southeastern for making great swings on the ball. He pitched out of a jam in the seventh inning and a player with less courage would have folded. We just find ways to win. At the end of the day, the goal is to have more runs than the other team.”
LSU LHP JARED POCHE’
On starting his first regional game…
“I felt good coming into the game. I didn’t have nerves or anything. I thought my fastball command, changeup command and curveball command was pretty good. I just made a few mistakes and those guys took advantage of that. You have to give credit to those hitters.”
On his pitching performance and the LSU bullpen…
“I think I struggled with my put-away pitches. I left some curve balls too hittable. I should have left them in the dirt. With the bullpen coming in like that, I can’t say enough about those guys. They have been doing that the entire year. They come in, throw a bunch of zeroes and get guys out anyway they can.”
LSU RF MARK LAIRD
On his approach to the plate against Southeastern…
“I tried working the count today. I got deep in some counts. I was just trying to make contact. I found holes and used my speed to my advantage. On the pick-off play, it was a play that got away. (Alex) Bregman did a good job of putting the ball in play off a tough pitcher and getting the run.”
On LSU taking the lead in eighth inning…
“Andro (Cutura) did a good job of keeping our hitters off balance. When we got runners on base, we needed to take advantage of that. Taking advantage of errors was a big thing in the game. In the bottom of the eighth, we got players in scoring position. We just needed to put the ball in play. We did that and scored some runs.”
LSU DH SEAN MCMULLEN
On today’s victory over Southeastern Louisiana University…
“I think Andro (Cutura) pitched a great game today. He kept us off balance. We put together some good at-bats against him. We were able to get him out of the game and get into their bullpen. I think that was the key.”
On his two-run home run…
“It definitely gave us more breathing room. Once Jake (Fraley) stole that base, it was extra inspiration to just get the hit. It is tough getting runners in scoring position. I was lucky enough to hit a ball over the fence. I wasn’t trying to hit a homerun. I was just trying to score Jake.”
Southeastern Head Coach Matt Riser
“Overall, I thought we competed the way we were supposed to. We went out there, we battled. Obviously, we had the one inning that got away from us a little bit, but besides that… I’m proud of the kids. They went out there and competed from pitch one to the last pitch. Even the last at bat, we pulled a guy from the bench who hadn’t had an at-bat all day. He (Jesse Buratt) came in cold, but he came in ready to go. He kept battling off pitches and battling off pitches, but obviously he ends it with a fly-out. That just shows you the tenacity of our team. It shows you the mental makeup of our team. We’ve got a good bunch of tough kids. They are going to continue to compete no matter what happens. That one inning got away from us, but I’ve seen teams come back from it. I’ve seen teams come back and win the tournament... That was my challenge to them, what team are you going to be. Are you going to continue to be the guys that we are at Southeastern and continue to mentally be tough and mentally to battle at each pitch, or are you going to fold up? I think our guys are going to rise to the challenge.”
On moving from this game to the next game…
“It starts right there with the meeting after the game. We go right into it, and we talk about it. We say it’s a tough loss, and we had them on the ropes there until late. We just have to do a good job of flushing. That’s the game of baseball. The beauty of the game of baseball is that we get to go back out there again tomorrow and play some more. It’s not over yet, and that’s what we keep telling our guys. It starts from now. As soon as you get on that bus, you have to flush it. You have to learn from your mistakes, move on from it and also take the good out of the game. Like I said, the best part for me, I saw our guys compete and continue to battle. If they continue to do that part, we will be ok.”
On the game overall …
"We’ve gone over this a thousand times in drills. At the end of the day, it’s baseball. They are 18 to 22 year old guys that go out there and compete. Sometimes you don’t get the bounce, and sometimes you do. You have to tip your hat to LSU. They did a good job. Tyler Moore did a good job with two strikes of just poking one there in the gap to tie it up (during the 7th inning). That was kind of their MO all day. They just kept getting tough at bat and made their breaks today.”
On the pick-off play at first base in the 8th inning …
"Just a regular pick-off move to first, just trying to check on the hit and run there. Obviously, it was in the back of his (Dylan Hills) mind that we’d do it. But at the end of the day, we just didn’t execute it. It’s really simple, and that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
On how the results would be different if it was an error free game…
“Yeah, but usually that’s how it is in the game of baseball. If you play clean baseball, play fundamental baseball, you do get the win. If you look at the two runs they scored to tie it up, there was a hit-by-pitch and a walk. Then obviously the two runs to go-ahead, we threw the ball down the line. Then on the infield single, we threw another ball away. So nine times out of 10 in the game of baseball, that’s why we preach fundamentals. We preach it to our guys in practice day-in and day-out. We did it all week this week as well. At the end of the day, just one inning got us.”
Southeastern Louisiana 1B Sam Robertson
On his 2-for-4 day at the plate …
“I was trying to get a good ball to hit and be a little patient, not try to do a little too much. Luckily, I got two good pitches two hit and capitalized. Their pitchers did very well and hit their spots. I just got two good pitches to hit and capitalized.”
On his home run in the sixth inning …
“That at bat was one of the biggest in the game for our team, I believe… I was just ready for the walk or the hit or whatever would happen after that because he’s (LSU pitcher Jared Poche`) is very good at keeping that behind them and coming though whenever something like that happens. So I was already ready, ready for something good to happen for us. Once I got into that situation and saw him (Daniel Midyett) take second (on a stolen base), I was thinking a single would get him in. Luckily, I good barrel on it, got underneath it and it just went.”
On limiting errors…
“It’s disappointing for sure, but our big thing is eliminate the big inning. It didn’t happen today. It just shows that whenever that happens, it kind of bites you in the butt. But we have to move on and take tomorrow on. Take it inning-by-inning, get three outs as fast as possible and score some runs.”
Southeastern Louisiana P Andro Cutura
On his outing today…
“I didn’t get too many three up, three down innings. They did a good job of hitting, and I had to work from behind a lot. I think our defense did a good job of making plays, and we battled through a lot of adversity through the game. I think we did a decent job. We had that one inning where we let it slip. Other than that, we did a good job of battling and facing adversity.”
On his will to battle through adversity…
“This is my first time playing here, and I think I had a little bit of jitters in the beginning. I think I got through that pretty quickly. I fell behind in a lot of counts, and they got a lot of hits. I basically had to battle the whole time and try to make pitch for pitch in big situations. I was able to do that for most of the game but a couple slipped away.”
Game 2: Houston def. Bryant, 3-2 (10 inn.)
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Second-seeded Houston defeated third-seeded Bryant, 3-2 in 10 innings, in game two of the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional Friday night at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
Houston's Ashford Fulmer led off the bottom of the 10th inning by being walked. Fulmer moved to second on a ground out and third on a passed ball. Designated hitter Justin Montemayor then hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score the game-winning run.
With the win, Houston will face top-seeded LSU on Saturday at 7 p.m. CT. Byrant will face Southeastern Louisiana in the elimination game Saturday at 2 p.m.
Bryant led off the game with back-to-back singles. Leftfielder AJ Zaronzy then hit an RBI single through the left side to score Carl Anderson to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.
Houston tied the game at one in the bottom the third inning. With runners on the corners, centerfielder Kyle Survance made it home on a wild pitch by McAvoy.
Houston scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Montemayor led off the inning with a double to left-center field. Third baseman Connor Hollis then reached first on an error by the Bryant pitcher, McAvoy. With runners on the corners, shortstop Frankie Ratcliff grounded into an RBI double play.
Houston’s Tyler Ford (9-0) earned the win after only allowing one hit in the top of the 10th inning. Bryant’s Kyle Wilcox (3-3) was charged the loss after allowing the winning run.
BRYANT HEAD COACH STEVE OWENS
“We talked about what it takes to be successful at this level and at these games. I was very confident in our pitching and hitting. As it was evident, you have to take care of the baseball and limit free opportunities. We had six walks today. I am sure all of them scored. We made four errors, one on a drop pop fly, two on catcher’s interference and one on a bunt that didn’t hurt us. You can’t give away free bases. I don’t know how many runs they earned today. There weren’t a lot of runs. They were hard to come by for both teams. The pitching was excellent. I am disappointed in the outcome. I thought we had a chance when we got through that last inning to keep playing for a while. We came up a little short.”
On moving on from tonight’s loss and preparing for tomorrow…
“We are already done with today. We already addressed today, and it is over. We will get something to eat, shower and go to bed. Then we will wake up and eat breakfast. We will be prepared to play our game tomorrow. We have a very good senior pitcher going tomorrow. We are a resilient team that I think has only loss two days in a row twice all year. I trust them. I know they will be ready to play hard tomorrow. Hopefully, we play a good game and will still be eating BBQ on Sunday.”
Bryant Player Quotes
P Kevin McAvoy
On tonight’s game with Houston…
“It was good. They’re a good hitting team. Coach (Owens) told me before the game that we were going to pitch, and we were going to hit it. We didn’t take care of the ball, we gave them too many base runners. Overall, it was a good game. We played hard.”
3B John Mullen
On his game tying hit…
“I got up 3-1 in the count and was looking for a good pitch to hit. He left a breaking ball up. I was able to get a base hit with.”
HOUSTON HEAD COACH TODD WHITTING
“Bryant’s an extremely good baseball team. Their starting pitcher, Kevin McAvoy, was really good. They are scrappy and really physical. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of them. Our team just grinds games out with good pitching. It might not necessarily come from our starter. Tonight is no different than a lot of the games we have played this year. I’m just really proud of our guys and the effort. The guys didn’t get down in the eighth inning when we gave up that run. Jared Robinson absolutely saved us today. We kept a really good hitting team off guard.”
On facing LSU…
“We are not going to change anything going into tomorrow. I’ve been through a lot of these regionals and it’s a lot of the same thing. The only thing that changes are the distractions and the environment around you. If you can put those things to the side and play then you have a chance to win. I told them that tomorrow is going to be a lot of fun. There is going to be a packed house out there. LSU is such a great team, and we are going to face the best pitcher in the country. You can’t ask for anything more on a big stage like this.”
On taking the underdog role…
“I guess on paper we are. They are one of the hottest teams in the country right now. We’ll take the underdog role. We have nothing to lose and not one person in the country thought we would be here back in the fall. We are going to go out there and continue to play the game as we always have. We don’t have any superstars, but we have a really good team. They play really well together and never quit.”
Houston Pitcher Jared Robinson
On his relief performance…
“I just came in and tried to get one pitch at a time, let my defense get behind me and try to see what happens.”
On facing LSU…
“We anticipated it, we want to win every game. We look to play the best teams. That’s how you get on to the next round. We got a little sneak peak of the atmosphere and it’s going to be a lot of fun tomorrow night. They’re obviously a great team from top to bottom. They can hit and pitch, but we just have to come out and play our game.”
Houston DH Justin Montemayor
On his final at bat…
“My last at bat I was going up there and realized he was throwing a lot of fastballs. So I was looking for a fastball, took a pitch in and drove it to the outfield.”