March 12, 2011
Baton Rouge, La. - Tyler Hanover drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the eighth inning to plate the game-winning run as No. 16 LSU edged No. 6 Cal State Fullerton 7-6 in a non-conference baseball game at Alex Box Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Kevin Barry (1-0) was the beneficiary of the Tiger rally in the eighth picked up the win with just 2/3 of an inning under his belt as LSU won the series with the Titans and improved to 14-1 on the year. Matty Ott, the NCAA's active saves leader picked up his 31st career save and fourth of the year with a perfect 1-2-3 ninth.
After the Titans clawed their way back from a 6-2 deficit to tie the game in the top of the eighth, the Tigers got to reliever Dylan Floro (1-2) with three singles and the walk to Hanover in the bottom half of the inning. Floro suffered the loss and dropped the Titans overall record to 8-5. This was the Titans' first series loss of the season.
"It was another tough loss for our team today. I was proud of the way we fought back again. We just weren't able to hold the game there in the eighth," said Fullerton Head Coach Dave Serrano.
"I give a lot of credit to their young guys who are embracing the atmosphere they are being put in and to Mikie Mahtook who rose to the occasion and made two spectacular defensive plays in centerfield."
Serrano was speaking of starter Kevin Gausman, the second freshman starting pitcher the Titans have seen this weekend and Mahtook who took hits away from Richy Pedroza and Anthony Trajano with sprawling, diving catches in centerfield in the seventh and ninth innings, respectively.
Gausman allowed four runs on four hits over seven innings and didn't figure in the decision.
Saturday's game started eerily similar to the way Friday night's did. After a scoreless, hitless top of the first for Fullerton, a free base to LSU leadoff hitter Trey Watkins, and uncharacteristic defensive play led to a pair runs off starter Tyler Pill. Trey Watkins walked, stole second and third, and scored on a grounder that Pedroza couldn't come up with. A batter later Mahtook doubled home the second run.
Fullerton cut the lead to 2-1 in the third without a hit. Ivory Thomas was hit by LSU starter freshman Kevin Gausman and then moved to third on back-to-back sacrifice bunts. With Pedroza at the plate, Thomas came home on a Gausman wild pitch that went to the backstop.
Louisiana State got the run back in their half of the third with consecutive infield singles by Hanover and Mahtook, a sacrifice by Austin Nola and an RBI-groundout by Mason Katz off Pill.
The Titans made it 4-2 in the fourth on a Carlos Lopez double, and a couple of groundouts, but the Tigers got to reliever Jake Floethe for two more runs on three hits in the fifth to extend their lead to 6-2. Pill worked just four-innings allowing four runs (2 earned) on five hits while striking out five and walking three.
Freshman Michael Lorenzen's one-out, two-run home run got the Titans to within 6-4 in the sixth and his one-out walk in the eighth keyed a two run rally that tied the game, and quieted the 9,511 fans in attendance, at least for a brief period of time. Reliever Ryan Eades walked Lorenzen and wild pitched him to second putting the outfielder in scoring position for Joe Terry.
Terry singled sharply through the right side, driving home Lorenzen and making it a one run game. Terry stole second base and moved to third on Ivory Thomas' bunt single off new pitcher Kevin Berry. Pinch-hitter Anthony Hutting drove home the tying run with a slow grounder to second, but that would be all for the Titans.
The finale of the series will begin at 11:00 a.m. PT. Colin O'Connell will be on the hill for Fullerton as the look to salvage a game before heading to Texas A&M on Tuesday.