BATON ROUGE In front of a record crowd of 10,752 at Alex Box Stadium, the LSU baseball team fought back from a 5-1 deficit to advance to the regional final, 8-5, over Sam Houston State on Saturday night.
LSU (54-9), the region's top seed, committed three of its five errors in the bottom of the first inning that forced starter Aaron Nola to throw 42 pitches in the frame and cost five unearned runs. This came on the heels of and Alex Bregman home run that was ruled a double which negated a 2-0 advantage in the top half of the inning.
However, Nola (11-0) recovered and threw another masterful performance for the overflow crowd. The Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year allowed six hits with six strikeouts and three walks in seven innings. SEC Tournament MVP Chris Cotton gave up a hit and a walk in the final two innings but kept the Bearkats scoreless to earn his school record-tying 16th save of the season.
The Tigers battled to within 5-4 after three innings but couldn't muster a run against Jason Simms, who pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of starter Caleb Smith. In the top of the eighth, LSU touched bullpen ace Alan Scott (2-1) who entered with a 0.60 ERA in 30 innings for four runs that provided the final margin.
LSU will face the winner of the losers bracket final between Louisiana-Lafayette and Sam Houston State which is set for 2 today.
First pitch of the regional final is set for 7 tonight on www.ESPN3.com (no over-the-air television).
LSU rallies to beat Sam Houston