BATON ROUGE -- In front of the largest postseason crowd in Alex Box Stadium history, starting pitcher Aaron Nola (7-4) limited Louisiana-Monroe to one run on four hits to lead LSU into the winner's bracket, 4-1, on Friday night.
LSU (44-16), which advanced to face No. 2-seeded Oregon State on Saturday night at 7 p.m. CT, scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to break a 1-1 tie and secure the victory for Nola.
The Baton Rouge native had a career-high 10 strikeouts while matching his longest outing. He threw 118 pitches, 83 for strikes.
ULM (31-29) fell into the loser's bracket where it will face No. 3-seeded Belmont at 2 p.m. CT on Saturday. The Warhawks will be the home team.
LSU third baseman Tyler Hanover drove in the game-winning runs with a two-RBI single to center field that scored Ty Ross and Alex Edward in the seventh. Aaron's brother Austin Nola, the Tigers senior shortstop, was 2-for-3 with two RBI.
"I have to tip my hat to ULM and to their pitcher Randy Zeigler," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "That was a tremendous ball game, it really was. That was NCAA postseason play at its best. I just thought it was an overall tremendous ball game. Aaron (Nola) and Randy were going after each other one pitch at a time. I think our defense might have made the difference in the game. They had a couple of missed plays, and we played flawlessly."
After Nola struck out five of its first seven batters, ULM took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning when Taylor Abdalla singled to left, advanced to second on a groundout and scored on a two-out single by Les Aulds.
The Tigers struck back in the bottom of the frame when Arby Fields reached base on a fielder's choice and took two bases on a failed pickoff attempt. Fields scored on a sacrifice fly by Austin Nola to tie the game at 1-1.
Aaron Nola fought through a bases-loaded jam in the top of the seventh but coerced designated hitter Corben Green into a double play to end the threat.
In the bottom of the seventh, Ross singled off the glove of the shortstop and moved to third on Edward's single past second base. With the Warhawks' infield in and runners on second and third, Hanover chopped a single through the middle of the infield that scored both Ross and Edward. Leading 3-1, Austin Nola doubled to right-center field to drive in Hanover, giving his brother all he needed for his first postseason victory.
LSU's Chris Cotton threw a perfect ninth inning to earn his first save of the season.
Zeigler (5-7) took the loss despite a valiant effort. The former LSU hurler allowed four runs on five hits, walked one and had three strikeouts. The Tigers managed only two hits prior to the seventh inning.
"Our kids battled him hard against Randy," Mainieri said. "Austin (Nola) in particular just absolutely crushed a couple of balls early in the game that I thought were going to be home runs except for the wind blowing in from left field. We had a handful of other balls that I thought we hit really hard that kept us at a 1-1 ball game there. Eventually, our kids just kept battling through. It just goes to show you how the break sometimes can go for you or against you. We had some good fortune tonight. We took advantage of it. It ended up being a good win for us."
Both the paid (10.989) and actual (9,902) attendance were the largest in the postseason history of either the old or new Alex Box Stadiums.
LSU will be the home team against Oregon State.
A limited number of reserved and standing room only tickets are available for the NCAA Baseball Regional Tournament game between LSU and Oregon State on Saturday at 7 p.m.
The tickets will go on sale at noon at the Alex Box Stadium ticket office. A very limited number of reserved seat tickets are available for $15 each in the grandstand and $10 in the bleachers, and standing room only tickets are available for $10 each.
LSU 4, ULM 1 (Jun 01, 2012 at Baton Rouge, La.)
ULM.................001 000 000 - 1 4 2 (31-29)
LSU................. 001 000 30X - 4 6 0 (44-16)
Pitchers: ULM - Zeigler, Randy; Browning, Wil(7) and Fiasco, Logan; Stawychny, Justin. LSU -
Aaron Nola; Chris Cotton(9) and Ty Ross.
Win-Aaron Nola(7-4) Save-Chris Cotton(1) Loss-Zeigler, Randy(5-7) T-2:23 A-10989
Actual Attendance: 9,902
Game televised by Cox Sports TV
LSU/UL-MONROE NOTES - GAME 2- BATON ROUGE REGIONAL - JUNE 1, 2012
- LSU (44-16) advances to play Oregon State (2-1 winner over Belmont) at 7 p.m. Saturday
- UL-Monroe (31-29) plays Belmont at 2 p.m. Saturday in an elimination game.
- Two-game attendance: Paid 21,030; Actual 11,383
- Game 2 paid attendance, 10,989; Actual 9,902. Both figures are NCAA Tournament record for all games played in a Baton Rouge regional since 1986.
- LSU improved its record for NCAA regional (regional/super regional) games played in Baton Rouge to 78-14.
- LSU freshman pitcher Aaron Nola had a career record 10 strikeouts. His eight-inning stint was his longest since March 6 when he went 8 innings against Tulane in New Orleans. Nola worked into
the eighth inning March 25 against Auburn (7.1 innings).
- Aaron Nola (7-4) retired 11 batters in a row until ULM first baseman Joey Rapp doubled with one out in the seventh inning. A 4-6-3 double play with one out in the seventh ended ULM's biggest threat.
- Nola (118 pitches) gave up four hits, the fewest since giving up four in a 5-inning stint versus Alabama (April 15).
- Randy Ziegler (5-7) took the loss for ULM. He was on the LSU staff before transferring to Bossier City Community College after the 2009 season. Ziegler gave up five hits in 6.1 innings. His errant pick-off throw allowed LSU to score its first run in the third inning. Ziegler had two errors in the game.
Two-game totals for the first day:
Total runs: 8 (2-1, 4-1 scores)
Total hits: 19 (6 Belmont; 3 Oregon State; 4 UL-Monroe; 6 LSU). No home runs, one 3B, four 2B.
NCAA Tournament records:
LSU, 25 appearances, 124-47
Oregon State, 13 appearances, 37-24
Belmont, 2 appearances, 2-3
UL-Monroe, 5 appearances, 2-9
2012 NCAA Baseball Championship
Baton Rouge Regional
Game 2 LSU vs. ULM
June 1, 2012
LSU HEAD COACH PAUL MAINIERI
On the game ...
"I have to tip my hat to ULM and to their pitcher Randy Zeigler. That was a tremendous ball game, it really was. That was NCAA post season play at its best. I just thought it was an overall tremendous ball game. Aaron (Nola) and Randy were going after each other one pitch at a time. I think our defense might have made the difference in the game. They had a couple of missed plays, and we played flawlessly, including that big double play in the seventh inning. We just kept battling Randy. Randy pitched a great game. He was something tonight. That's what we expected him to throw when we recruited him. I knew he was good, and he's really come into his own. I'm really happy for him and proud of him. He really pitched a great ball game. Our kids battled him hard. Austin (Nola) in particular just absolutely crushed a couple of balls early in the game that I thought were going to be home runs except for the wind blowing in from left field. We had a handful of other balls that I thought we hit really hard that kept us at a one-one ball game there. Eventually, our kids just kept battling through. It just goes to show you how the break sometimes can go for you or against you.We had some good fortune tonight. We took advantage of it. It ended up being a good win for us."
On pitchers ...
I thought Aaron (Nola) was throwing excellent baseball. He's mature beyond his years. The temperatures were a lot cooler today than they have been in a couple days. I think that probably helped Aaron a lot tonight to stay strong late in the game. I would've still sent him out there in the eighth inning, as long as he felt good and was throwing well. Once he got to 118 pitches, I thought that was it. The reason I didn't go to (Nick) Goody was because we have a long weekend. If I felt like we didn't need to use him tonight, I didn't want to. I was playing them one at a time still because I had tremendous confidence in (Chris) Cotton. I thought the matchups were good."
LSU PITCHER AARON NOLA
On his winning pitching performance...
"That was an unbelievable game. The crowd was unbelievable; they were really alive, and that's what made it fun. What really got it going was that double play in the sixth inning. What can I say about the infielders? They're great. Words can't describe how good they are. That was a game-changing performance.
LSU SHORTSTOP AUSTIN NOLA
On his performance at the plate...
"I felt really good up there tonight. You have to give it to our pitching and our defense; we really got behind them. You have to tip your hat to the ULM ball club; they played us hard and gave us a solid ball game all the way around.
On his previous NCAA Tournament experience...
"Experience is everything when it comes to the game of baseball, especially in the postseason. It was much easier coming here relaxed knowing we've been here before. You just have to play hard, and let it rip. That's what we did tonight; we let it rip. We were confident up there, and we competed hard against a good ULM ball club."
LSU THIRD BASEMAN TYLER HANOVER
On his tiebreaking hit in the seventh inning...
"Coach Mainieri came up to me before the at-bat and asked me if I wanted to bunt, or get the job done with the bat. I told him I want to get the job done with the bat. He told me to hit something to the right-fielder, and I told him the infield was playing in. He said, 'Well, just get something out of the infield.' I was fortunate enough to put a good swing on it, and get the ball up the middle."
On his previous NCAA Tournament experience...
"You still have pre-game jitters like you do before every game, but once that first pitch is thrown, that first at-bat, that first ground ball, it just becomes baseball again. That (experience) is what gave us the confidence tonight."
ULM HEAD COACH JEFF SCHEXNAIDER
On the outcome of the game...
"I thought that anytime you have a pitching duel like that, it's usually the team that makes the mistake that loses, and they took advantage of our mistakes and good teams do that. But I thought that our guys competed extremely hard the whole game. We had opportunities - in the seventh, we had them loaded when it was tied and we didn't get the timely hit and they did and they were able to get their big inning."
On the change in momentum after they grounded into a double play with the bases loaded to end the seventh inning...
"We've been in that situation before. That's part of the game and our guys understand that. It was a let-down for our guys because we felt it coming as an opportunity and in games like this, you can't miss those opportunities and we know that. It probably got them [LSU] more emotionally into the game because that was a big swing for those guys to not let us score."
On whether there are any positives to take away from the loss considering they played LSU close the whole game...
"I don't think our guys are excited about being close at this point. I'm proud of the way they played, but they're disappointed in losing. This is a double-elimination tournament and we've got to be able to get back out there tomorrow and play with the same intensity they did tonight, and that's going to be the big question. This was probably one of the bigger games that all these guys have been in, myself included. It was fun and exciting and we competed as hard as we could. It just didn't go our way."
On tomorrow's game...
"Tomorrow we're going to start Cale Wine our junior right-hander. He's been our Sunday starter here in the conference games, and lately he's been our second starter."
ULM LHP RANDY ZEIGLER
On the Game...
"I was just really calm before the game. It was everything as usual. I worked on throwing strikes out there. Throwing strikes each pitch gave them something to think about. I gave up timely hits. They outplayed us."
On Playing with Emotion...
"A lot of it is just it's an exciting game out there. The fans were into it. The situation of the game dictates how exciting it gets. Being a big game with a big crowd it's going to be a little more exciting."
On the Seventh Inning...
"I guess they pretty much just hit balls where we weren't. Only one ball was really well struck. Balls just found holes."
ULM 1B JOEY RAPP
On the Game...
"They had been pounding me fastballs all day. They got ahead on me and kept throwing me fastballs. I was fortunate enough to get one into the gap for a double."
On LSU Starting Pitcher Austin Nola...
"He threw it great tonight. He had a lot of stuff working. He commanded the ball well on both sides of the plate. He pitched an unbelievable game. He's a great pitcher. There's really not a whole lot else to say. He just threw the ball really well."
On keeping the game close late...
"The biggest thing with us is we know we can come back. We showed it last weekend. When a team gets up on us a little bit we don't really get down because we know we can scratch a couple of runs across and put something together. It's really not over until the last out is recorded. That's pretty much why everybody kept their composure."