BATON ROUGE, La. - Senior shortstop Austin Nola collected a career-best four hits and scored two runs Tuesday night, and junior first baseman Mason Katz launched his 10th homer of the year as fourth-ranked LSU posted a 9-6 win over Nicholls State in Alex Box Stadium.
LSU, playing its final regular-season home game, improved to 40-13 while Nicholls State dropped to 25-26. The Tigers posted a 40-win regular season for the ninth time since 1992, the first year the NCAA instituted a 56-game regular-season schedule limit.
"It's a significant accomplishment to win 40 games in the regular season," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri, "and I'm very proud of our team for reaching that mark. I thought we swung the bats pretty well tonight, and we had some good efforts on the mound."
LSU concludes the regular season at South Carolina beginning at 6 p.m. CT Thursday. The Tigers are one game behind Kentucky and a half-game behind South Carolina in the overall league standings. LSU has already clinched at least a tie for the SEC Western Division title, and the Tigers have locked up the #2 seed in next week's SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala.
"Our players are very excited for the opportunity to go to Columbia and compete for the SEC championship," Mainieri said. "We have so much respect for (South Carolina coach) Ray Tanner and his program, and it should be a series the entire nation will be watching."
LSU (2009) and South Carolina (2010, 2011) have combined to win the last three College World Series titles. This week's series marks the first meeting between the teams since the Tigers defeated the Gamecocks in the second round of the 2009 SEC Tournament.
Nola, making his final regular-season appearance in Alex Box Stadium, was 4-for-4 at the plate Tuesday night with a double and two runs scored. Katz was 2-for-5 with four RBI, including a three-run blast in the sixth inning, and he scored two runs.
LSU starter Kurt McCune (3-4) earned the win, limiting the Colonels to two runs on six hits in five innings with one walk and one strikeout.
Nicholls State starter Mike Wisecarver (1-7) was charged with the loss as he surrendered five runs - three earned - on seven hits in five innings with four walks and no strikeouts.
Trailing 2-0, LSU erupted for five runs in the third inning. A run-scoring double by Katz and RBI singles by designated hitter Jackson Slaid, leftfielder Raph Rhymes and second baseman JaCoby Jones highlighted the rally.
LSU added three runs in the sixth off of reliever Brad Delatte when Nola single, Slaid walked and Katz unloaded his 10th dinger of the year into the left-field seats.
The Tigers extended the lead to 9-2 in the eighth on an RBI single by senior third baseman Tyler Hanover.
The Colonels rallied for four runs in the ninth inning, but LSU closer Nick Goody recorded back-to-back strikeouts with runners at second and third to end the game.
LSU 9, Nicholls State 6 (May 15, 2012 at Baton Rouge, La.)
Nicholls State...... 011 000 004 - 6 11 3 (25-26)
LSU..................... 005 003 01X - 9 12 1 (40-13)
Pitchers: Nicholls State - Wisecarver, Mike; Delatte, Brad(6); McCoy, Jordan(8) and Dufrene, Cody.
LSU - Kurt McCune; Kevin Berry(6); Joe Broussard(7); Nick Rumbelow(9); Nick Goody(9) and Jordy Snikeris; Tyler Moore.
Win-Kurt McCune(3-4) Loss-Wisecarver, Mike(1-7) T-2:44 A-11183
HR LSU - Mason Katz (10).
Actual Attendance: 6,050