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After a 10-run rally in the bottom of the eighth inning Friday night for a 14-11 win over Kennesaw State in an NCAA Regional opener in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, LSU baseball coach Jay Johnson said, “We can do stuff like that.”
But he hopes to one day win in more conventional ways.
“We haven’t really done things in a dogmatic or orthodox manner all year,” he said.
Then on Saturday night, LSU scored four in the bottom of the ninth to tie host, No. 1 seed Southern Mississippi, and won it, 7-6, in the 10th on a walk-off grounder by Josh Pearson in front of 5,211 at Pete Taylor Park. Dylan Crews and Cade Doughty each homered in the ninth when the Tigers tied it 6-6.
LSU’s collective Rally Hat-tiesburg won again.
“It was beautiful,” Johnson said Saturday night. “You can win games on talent sometimes, but it’s about what’s inside of you. I’d love to dissect that whole rally there, but we have more baseball.”
LSU Trailed 11-4 In Eighth Friday, But Won 14-11
The No. 2 seed Tigers (40-20) play at 7 p.m.eastern Sunday for the right to advance to the NCAA Super Regional round either in Miami next week or possibly at home in Baton Rouge., depending on what team wins the rain-delayed NCAA Regional at Miami. No. 1 seed Miami beat No. 4 seed Canisius, 11-6, on Saturday, and No. 3 seed Ole Miss beat No. 2 seed Arizona 7-4, on Saturday night. If Miami advances, it hosts the Super Regional. If it doesn’t, LSU could host.
The winner of an elimination game at 2 p.m. Sunday between Southern Mississippi (44-17) and No. 3 seed Kennesaw State (36-27) will play LSU Sunday night. Should LSU not win Sunday night, there will be a Hattiesburg Regional title game on Monday at 4 p.m.
In NCAA Regional action Saturday, the SEC went 8-1. Other SEC winners were Tennessee 12-7 over Campbell, Auburn 21-7 over Florida State, Texas A&M 9-6 over Louisiana, Arkansas 20-12 over Oklahoma State, Vanderbilt 21-1 over New Mexico State and Georgia 24-1 over Hofstra. No. 1 seed Florida was the only SEC team to lose Saturday, 9-4, to No. 2 seed Oklahoma in Gainesville.
SUNDAY TV SCHEDULE
No. 2 seed Georgia plays No. 1 seed North Carolina in an elimination game Sunday at 1 p.m. on ESPNU. Florida plays No. 4 seed Central Michigan in an elimination game at 1 p.m. on the SEC Network. Miami and Ole Miss meet at 3 p.m. on ESPN +, and No. 2 seed Vanderbilt and No. 3 seed San Diego play an elimination game at 4 p.m. on ESPN +.
“I don’t guess it matters how slow it went,” Pearson said of his bases-loaded, game-winning grounder up the middle retrieved by USM shortstop Dustin Dickerson, whose throw home to get Josh Stevenson racing in from third was not in time.
“It got the job done,” Pearson said.
LSU’s Tyler McManus singled to lead off the 10th off reliever Garrett Ramsey, who then hit Stevenson and walked Crews to load the bases. Jacob Berry’s grounder off reliever Tyler Stuart went to Dickerson, who threw home for the force out. But Pearson’s grounder was slow enough that Dickerson couldn’t get his throw home in time.
It was LSU’s first walk-off victory in its NCAA postseason history at an opponent’s home ballpark – a night after its largest comeback in an NCAA postseason game since 1998. And the Tigers celebrated as Stevenson scored as if they were College World Series bound.
“It’s a win that should be celebrated,” Johnson said. “But you can’t blow it out right now. It’s something we’ll look back on at the end of this run and go like, ‘How ’bout that game?’ And it’s something that will bond them.”
SEC Spring Meetings: Future Schedules Decided
The Tigers, who trailed 11-4 entering the eighth inning Friday, trailed 6-2 entering the ninth on Saturday against USM closer Landon Harper, who entered in the eighth with 12 saves and just two home runs allowed in 40 and two-thirds innings. Harper put out a bases-loaded fire in the eighth with no runs allowed to keep his team up by four.
Harper got Stevenson to fly out to open the ninth. Then Crews followed with his 22nd home run of the season to cut the Golden Eagles’ lead in half. But Harper got Berry to fly out to right, and LSU was down to its last out. Pearson singled to right field to keep LSU alive.
Then Cade Doughty homered to right field to cut USM’s lead to 6-5.
“When Doughty hit that home run, I knew we had a chance,” Crews said.
Apparently, so did Harper. Rattled, he hit Tre Morgan, and Ramsey relieved. Drew Bianco, pinch-running for Morgan, stole second to put the tying run in scoring position for Jordan Thompson.
Thompson singled up the middle for the 6-6 tie before Gavin Dugas struck out to end the inning.
“Just really wanting to come through for your boys,” Thompson said. “It was crazy, but it was exciting.”
Southern Mississippi’s bullpen allowed five runs on six hits through two and two-thirds innnings after starter Hurston Waldrep dominated the Tigers through six and two-thirds with 11 strikeouts around five hits and two runs. Ramsey took the loss to fall to 5-1. Paul Gervase, who was LSU’s fourth pitcher, retired the side in order in the top of the 10th for the win to improve to 4-1. USM took a 4-2 lead after five innings off LSU starter Ty Floyd.
“Just couldn’t put them away their in the ninth inning,” USM coach Scott Berry said. “Just couldn’t get that one pitch. We just couldn’t get the punch out.”