NCAA Baseball Super Regionals: Day 1 Results, Highlights and Analysis
The LSU Tigers and the UCLA Bruins jumped out to 1-0 series leads on Day 1 of the Super Regionals. With trips to the College World Series on the line, the Tigers and Bruins have placed the early pressure on the Oklahoma Sooners and Cal State Fullerton Titans, respectively.
The Tigers topped the Sooners 2-0, and the Bruins needed extra innings to down the Titans 5-3.
Two of the four Super Regionals scheduled to begin were postponed until Saturday (South Carolina-North Carolina and Rice-North Carolina State), but the two games on the schedule brought fans plenty of excitement.
Pitching and clutch hitting made the first day of Super Regionals memorable. Here's how LSU and UCLA got it done.
Nola Just a Little Bit Better Than Gray
Oklahoma's ace Jonathan Gray was selected third overall by the Colorado Rockies in the MLB draft on Thursday. But LSU sophomore Aaron Nola tossed a two-hit shutout to outduel him and lead the Tigers to victory.
The two elite pitchers matched each other pitch for pitch through seven-and-a-half innings, but the Tigers' bats finally broke through in the bottom of the eighth.
Junior Jacoby Jones started the rally with a triple to right-center field. Sophomore Tyler Moore drove him in with a double to chase Gray. ESPNU tweeted the bottom line with an image of Jones crossing the plate.
Ralph Garza Jr. relieved him and surrendered Mark Laird's third hit, a single to right field that pushed Moore home for a little insurance.
It was a nice touch, but Nola didn't need it. The Regional Player of the Year was nasty all night. He threw just 102 pitches, struck out six and didn't walk a batter in a pure masterpiece.
A kid that pitches for LSU whose name is Nola has to be good. The pitching performances from both Nola and Gray will be tough acts to follow for the remainder of the series.
Bruins' Bats Bail Out Berg
The Bruins seemed to have the Titans right where they wanted them heading into the eighth inning. They held a 3-1 lead powered by starting pitcher Adam Plutko. Aside from allowing an unearned run in the fourth inning, the 6'3" right-hander was efficient.
ESPNU tweets Plutko walking off the field after his final inning of work.
He didn't have dominating stuff, as he only struck out two, but he didn't walk a batter and went seven strong innings. With the Bruins dominant bullpen, that has been enough throughout the season.
Friday night was a little bit different.
Bruins head coach John Savage turned the ball over to setup man James Kaprielian in the eighth inning. He promptly walked senior Richy Pedroza, the only man he faced. Savage wasted no time turning to sophomore closer and Pac-12 Player of the Year David Berg.
The sidearm right-hander has been shortening games for the Bruins all year, but on Saturday he elongated it. Berg surrendered the game-tying run on an infield single by junior Michael Lorenzen.
Did John Savage stick with David Berg too long?
In the 10th inning, the Bruins' offense came back to life.
Sophomore Eric Filia and junior Pat Valaika drove in runs in the extra frame to give Berg a second chance to shut things down.
He took advantage, but he didn't make it look easy. The Titans were able to put the tying run on base before Berg struck out J.D. Davis and Lorenzen to redeem himself.
Berg worked three tense innings. It will be interesting to see how much work Savage can get from him for the rest of the series.
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