Baton Rouge Super Regional
Oklahoma (43-20) vs. LSU (56-9)
Where: Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.
Game 1: LSU 2, Oklahoma 0 -- Box Score
Game 2: Saturday -- 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
RHP Aaron Nola, LSU -- Oklahoma junior right-handed pitcher Jonathan Gray put together a dominant performance, while LSU right-handed pitcher Aaron Nola found a way to outduel him. Nola was simply outstanding against the Sooners, running a 91-93 fastball all around the strike zone, while also having good command of his slider and changeup. Nola struck out six, walked no one and allowed two hits in a complete game shutout. The shutout was LSU's first in the postseason since 2004 (Lane Mestepey), while it was LSU's fifth in NCAA postseason history.
It looked like it might take sure extra innings for the Tigers and Sooners to finish this contest, but with the two teams scoreless in the eighth inning and after Jonathan Gray struck out Ty Ross on an 0-2 count to begin the innings, the Tigers got things going with an 0-2 triple off the bat of second baseman JaCoby Jones. Tyler Moore then doubled home Jones, while Mark Laird added the second run of the game with an RBI single through the right side to make it 2-0. The Tigers had the lead and wouldn't look back.
WHAT THEY SAID:
It was everything that everyone expected it to be. It was as great of a pitching duel as you’ll ever see. On one hand you have a guy who was picked the third pick in the draft in Jonathan Gray and on the other hand you have Aaron Nola. Our guys have looked forward to facing Gray but people might forget that we had a pretty good pitcher as well. I wouldn’t trade him for anyone in the world. He was fantastic tonight and we’ve seen this before. He pitched a typical game for him. Even though he dominated the game, I still thought it was a tremendous team effort. Gray threw so many sliders and he could throw them for strikes. It was tough for our guys but they never stopped battling. I told Jacoby (Jones) that he was seeing the ball well tonight and he would eventually get to him. He then hit the ball in the gap at the perfect time. Tyler (Moore) was ready and fortunately they made a pitching change to let him regroup. I thought Mark Laird had a tremendous effort it and it was a great team win. Aaron only threw six strikeouts and our defense played great behind him. I thought (Alex) Bregman came back tremendously from struggling last week on defense. We are one down and we still have another one.” -- LSU head coach Paul Mainieri
THE SKINNY: I
t was a pitching matchup built up as one of the best of the college baseball season for a good reason. Then, Oklahoma's Jonathan Gray added a little fuel to the matchup after going third overall in the MLB draft to the Colorado Rockies. Well, neither pitcher disappointed in LSU's 2-0 win over the Sooners. OU's Gray sat consistently 94-96 with his fastball, 84-85 with a sharp slider and 81-82 with a changeup, while he struck out nine, walked two and allowed just two runs on five hits in 7 1/3 innings of work. Meanwhile, Aaron Nola put together a terrific performance and freshman outfielder Mark Laird finished the night 3-for-4 with an RBI.
Fullerton Super Regional
UCLA (43-17) vs. Cal State Fullerton (51-9)
Where: Goodwin Field in Fullerton, Calif.
Game 1: UCLA 5, Cal State Fullerton 3 -- Box Score
Game 2: Saturday -- 10 p.m. (ESPN2)
PLAYER OF THE GAME: RHP Adam Plutko, UCLA -- There could be a very good argument made for reliever David Berg or outfielder Eric Filia, who had four hits, in this category. However, we're going with the guy who put the Bruins in position to win this game -- Plutko. Plutko somehow didn't get drafted on Thursday or Friday, but showed why he's such a special pitcher in the win over the Titans. He struck out two, walked one and allowed a run on six hits in seven innings of work. He also threw 104 pitches, 69 for strikes.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins held a 2-1 advantage through the middle innings, but the Titans eventually tied things up at 3-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning after the Bruins scored a run in the top of the frame. Well, the two teams went to extra innings, where the Bruins capped things off with a two-run 10th to take a 5-3 lead, and to get the win. Eric Filia had an RBI single to start the scoring, while Pat Valaika had a sacrifice fly to add an insurance run. As has been the case throughout the season, the Bruins were very opportunistic at the plate.
WHAT THEY SAID: "We lost, and we lost. We didn't catch the ball very good, we popped up really good. Our whole plan and work all week against Adam Plutko was to try and keep the ball out of the air and we didn't do that. I didn't think Justin Garza pounded the strike zone very well. They beat us. We gave them too much. When you are at this point in the season and you give away too much stuff, you lose and that is what happened. They were the better team tonight and tomorrow is a new day." -- Cal State Fullerton head coach Rick Vanderhook.
THE SKINNY: The Bruins and Titans have put together quite a baseball rivalry over the past few seasons, and Friday's series opener in the Fullerton Super Regional certainly didn't disappoint. The Bruins got another solid performance from right-handed pitcher Adam Plutko, while for the Titans, usually dominant Justin Garza was just OK, striking out six, walking one and allowing three runs on five hits in seven innings. For the Bruins, Eric Filia had four hits and leadoff hitter Brian Carroll added a two-hit performance. Meanwhile, on the mound, All-American right-handed pitcher David Berg prevailed, striking out four, walking one and allowing a run on three hits in three innings of work.