BATON ROUGE - The No. 4 national seed Tigers coasted to their 23rd NCAA Regional title on Sunday night as they defeated Rice 5-0 behind freshman Eric Walker, who was in control all night.
Rice threatened, loading the bases in the ninth, but were unable to scratch a run.
LSU jumped on Rice freshman right-hander Addison Moss in the top of the second inning with three hits and took a 3-0 lead. After Greg Deichmann reached on an error, Josh Smith doubled to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. Beau Jordan followed with a single to put runners on the corners. Michael Papierski's sacrifice bunt scored Smith for a 2-0 lead. Jake Slaughter, subbing for injured regular first baseman Nick Coomes (thumb), singled Jordan home for the 3-0 advantage.
The Tigers made it 4-0 in the third as Kramer Robertson doubled, reached third on a bunt single by Cole Freeman and scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Antoine Duplantis. LSU made it 5-0 in the fourth on a bases-loaded fielder's choice grounder to third by Robertson.
Amazingly, Zach Watson did not figure into any of the scoring. The freshman from Ruston via West Ouachita High in West Monroe started off 0-for-3 after homering four times in LSU's previous two victories - two in each game.
Meanwhile Walker silenced Rice, giving up no runs, striking out eight and walking no one through eight strong innings.
LSU advances to a home best-of-three Super Regional against the winner of the NCAA Regional in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. LSU had won 22 NCAA Regionals entering Sunday with 20 of those in Alex Box Stadium since 1986 and two away from home - at the University of New Orleans in 1987 and at Texas A&M in 1989.
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