Glenn Guilbeau / Gannett Louisiana
BATON ROUGE – LSU blew a 4-0 lead after seven innings and lost to Houston 5-4 in 11 innings Sunday night, forcing another game Monday at 7 p.m. for the NCAA Regional championship at Alex Box Stadium.
Houston (47-18) fought through the losers’ bracket after losing 5-1 to LSU Saturday night and eliminated Southeastern Louisiana 9-5 on Sunday afternoon to get to play LSU again.
The Cougars took the 5-4 lead in the top of the 11th on a two-out single to left field by Kyle Survance off LSU closer Joe Broussard that scored Josh Vidales from third base. Vidales singled with two outs to start the rally and reached third on a double by Michael Pyeatt.
LSU went quietly in the bottom of the 11th in order in front of a very quiet Alex Box Stadium despite 9,482 in attendance.
The Tigers (46-15-1) led 1-0 in the bottom of the second inning on a home run to left field by Kade Scivicque. They increased that to 3-0 in the seventh on a strange, inside-the-park home run down the right field line by Tyler Moore with Conner Hale on first with a single.
Moore’s drive lodged between the bottom of the right field fence and the ground. Survance, Houston’s right fielder, immediately threw up his arms to signal a ball obstruction and never retrieved the ball. Had a ground rule double been called, Hale would have had to stay at third and Moore at second. Instead, umpires immediately ruled an inside-the-park homer for Moore.
Houston coach Todd Whitting argued and eventually filed a formal protest with NCAA officials on hand, but the call stood.
“We determined that a judgment call was made, and the ball was not lodged and remained live and in play,” NCAA representatives Gary Overton and Warren Turner said in a joint statement released later in the game.
LSU added another run in the inning for a 4-0 lead on a single by Christian Ibarra and an RBI double by Alex Bregman, and it looked like the Tigers were ready to host a Super Regional on Friday.
But an incensed Houston stormed right back, though, to score four in the top of the eighth to tie it 4-4. Vidales and Survance singled off LSU reliever Kurt McCune around an obstruction call against McCune that awarded Pyeatt first base on a grounder to first. McCune got in Pyeatt’s way trying to field the ball.
Landon Appling then singled with the bases loaded two score two, cutting LSU’s lead in half at 4-2. Zac Person replaced McCune and got Casey Grayson on a ground out. But Caleb Barker greeted reliever Nate Fury with another two-run single, and it was 4-4.
McCune allowed three hits and four runs, including three earned runs, with a walk in relief of LSU starter Kyle Bouman. LSU coach Paul Mainieri took Bouman out of the game after six innings even though Bouman allowed just two hits and no runs with two walks through six innings and only 64 pitches. Bouman, though, has not thrown more than six innings since March.